Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hawthorn Berry




Scientific name: Hawthorn - Crataegus oxyacantha; Smooth Hawthorn - Crataegus laevigata;
Common hawthorn - Crataegus monogyna; Chinese Hawthorn - Crataegus pinnatifida

Other names:
Oneseed or single-seed hawthorn(common hawthorn), white horn, hawberry, May-tree, thornapple, mayblossom, whitethorn, hagthorn, cheese Tree

Description:

Common hawthorn - Crataegus monogyna is a small flowering tree or shrub that is native to temperate regions of  Europe, North America, North Africa and Western Asia. It has abundant red berries and its seeds are readily spread into open fields, grasslands and woodlands, thus creating a thorny thicket.  The leaves are long and broad and has 3 to 7-lobed that looks like mittens or paws. The petals are white and sometimes pinkish. The stem is filled with 1-3cm thorns. The fruit, also known as, haw is berry-like and looks like cherries or stones of plums and is brilliant red in color.

The dried haws are made into tablets or capsules.


Parts Used:
Dried haws or fruits


Nutritional Benefits and Properties:

Hawthorns are rich in Vitamins C and B-complex.

Hawthorn in general contains amyddalin, flavonoids(vitexin, rutin, quercetin, and hyperoside), flavone-C, flavone glycosides, tannins, catechins, oligomeric proanthocyanidins (epicatechin, procyanidin, and  procyanidin B-2),  triterpene acids (such ursolic acid, oleanolic acid, and crataegolic acid), polyphenols, saponins, hyperoside, cardiotonic amines and phenolic acids (caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, and phenolcarboxylic acids). These chemical constituents have beneficial effects and antioxidant properties.

Flavonoid acts as a natural ACE inhibitoris know to convert angiotensin (angiotensin I) into the active vasoconstrictor (angiotensin II). It widens the arteries and increases the supply of oxygen to the heart.

The bioflavonoids are known to benefit the circulatory system of the by toning and strengthening the muscles of the walls of the arteries which helps prevent aneurism & stroke.


Medicinal Properties and Uses:

Several species of hawthorn have been used in traditional medicine. The ripe fruit and flowers are usually used in herbal medicine.

Heart Problems


Hawthorn is widely known for the treatment of various heart diseases such as angina pectoris as well asatherosclerosis, chest pain, stroke, high blood pressure, stress....

It increases the supply of oxygen to the heart and is effective in increasing the amount of blood per heart beat. It is known to strengthen the heart muscles and dilate the coronary blood vessels. It also lowers blood pressure and reduce the amount of stress place in the heart by inhibiting the angiotensin converting enzyme. Hawthorn also has antioxidants that protect against the formation of plaque(prvents atherosclerosis) and lowers the LDL (poor) cholesterol.

Indigestion

Hawthorn was used in quite a few Chinese medicines to help with the retention of meals inside the belly. Hawthorn’s capabilities to break up fat also causes it to be useful for helping with indigestion that comes on as a result of eating greasy foods.


Other benefits:

Mild diuretic
Astringent quality (relief of sore throat)
Indigestion
Insomnia (fresh hawthorn is best used for this and is made into tea)
Weight loss ( hawthorn reduce the amounts of cholesterol in the body and increases the metabolic process)


Precaution and Side Effects of Hawthorn Berry

Hawthorn should be taken at recommended doses over the short term. Using hawthorn may cause headaches, nausea, vertigo, rashes and palpitations. While overdose may cause cardiac arrhythmia and it may lower the blood pressure at a dangerous level.

Just like in any part of this blog, it is still best to consult your physician before taking medicinal plants/herbs or any medications.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cardamom

Scientific name: Elletaria cardamomum

Description:


Cardamom is a very expensive spice that comes from an herbaceous perennial clumping plant that belongs to
the same family as ginger and turmeric. It is native to India & Sri Lanka and it grows up to 5 meters. 
Arising from the rhizome are 10 to 20 leafy shoots(pseudo-stems) in an overlapping leaf sheaths. The leaves are dark green and lanceolate. The pale green or yellow flowers/fruits are capsule-like that grows in long drooping pannicle. Inside the small green papery thin-skinned pod are tiny black seeds. It is harvested before they are ripe and then allowed to dry. There are different kinds of cardamom namely black cardamom, brown cardamom, green cardamom, red cardamom and white cardamom. but the main type of cardamom are black cardamom and green cardamom. The seed has a strong, pungent flavor and aroma that is floral and slightly citrus y. The black cardamom has a slight smoky taste.

Parts used: Seed, Fruit

Nutritional Information and Properties of Cardamom:

Cardamom has a good amount of vitamin C and also contains vitamin B-complex like niacin, riboflavin, and
thiamine.

The minerals found in cardamom includes a rich amount of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. It also has a good quantity of manganese, sodium, iron and traces of copper and zinc.

Cardamom is a spice rich in essential oil such as cineol, terpinene, limonene, sabinene, and terpineol(in the form of formic and acetic acid) as well as heptanes, ß-phellandrene, menthone, and mycene. These volatile oils have therapeutic properties and is known to inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, mold and fungus.

Cardamom also contains many phytonutrients that helps in cell repair and is a powerful antioxidant.


Health Benefits and Medicinal Uses of Cardamom:

1. Controls Blood Pressure:

Cardamom lowers elevated blood pressure because it is rich in potassium and it is diuretic as well.

2. Improves Blood Circulation:
Cardamom improves blood circulation also contains a good amount of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant.

3. Improves eyesight:

The Cardamom capsule taken with honey is known to improve eyesight.

4. Genito-urinary disorders (cystitis, nephritis, gonorrhoea):

The volatile oils founds in powdered seeds are known to heal the inflammation.

5.Depression

Make a tea by using ground cardamom seeds and boiled water.

6. Oral disorders (pharyngitis, sore throat...)
Mix ground cardamom, cinnamon and water and gargle it.

7. Hiccups, stomach cramps
Cardamom has antispasmodic properties that provides relief from hiccup and stomach cramps. You may boil
cardamoms with mint leaves in a cup of water.


Other Uses of Cardamom:

Cardamom is commonly used in Indian cuisine and Middle Eastern cuisine. The seeds are used whole or ground and used in preparing various curries, stews basmati rice, desserts, baked goods, confection and flavoring in drinks.

Skincare - cardamom is an ingredient in soaps and hand creams. It has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory properties and can also be used for skin allergies.

Aromatherapy products - Cardamom imparts fragrances that is relaxing to the senses.


Precautions/Side Effects/ Warnings
:

If taken in large amounts, cardamom can exhibit some adverse effects. It is contraindicated in women who
are breastfeeding and those people with gallstones.

Like any herbs/plants in this blog, it is still best to consult your physician before taking it.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rosemary



Scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Description:

Rosemary is a perennial bushy, woody plant that is native to the Mediterranean and now is grown worldwide. The leaves are about an inch long that stays evergreen and has a pungent odor. The flowers are small and paleblue. There are several varieties but the rosemary with green leaves is the kind that is used medicinally.

The dried rosemary takes on the texture of pine needles. The whole plant is strongly aromatic and belongs to the mint family.  It is used in aromatherapy as well asair fresheners. Rosemary is also used for cooking and lends itself well to roasted chicken, meats and stews.


Parts Used: stem, leaves, flower tops, upper part of the shoots (fresh or dried)


Health benefits of Rosemary herb:

Rosemary is exceptionally rich in Vitamin B-complex (folic acid, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin),
Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It is also a rich source of minerals like calcium, copper, iron and magnesium.

This herb also contains volatile essential oils (a-pinene, borneol, bornyl acetate, camphene, cineol and esters) as well as phenolic anti-oxidant rosmarinic acid. These compounds have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-fungal, antiseptic and carminative properties.


Uses and Medicinal properties:

Headache, stomachache, colds, skin irritations, healing of wounds - externally apply oil of rosemary.

Rosemary oil are prepared by distilling from the fresh flowering tops and the upper part of the herb. Fill it with olive oil enough to submerse the flowers. Seal the jar for a month. Strain the contents off and store the oil in bottle.

Dandruff, hair loss - rosemary is known to prevent premature baldness and stimulates the hair roots to grow hair and improve circulation. To make a hair wash - use an infusion of dried rosemary leaves and flowers mixed with nettle leaf. One can also use the essential oil of rosemary and applied directly to the scalp.

Asthma and allergies - rosemary are known to block histamine and thus alleviates allergies and asthma.

Arthritis, gout, rheumatism, sprain - Rosemary oil is use to massage and relieve arthritis. It also helps the circulatory system.


Other uses:

Air freshener/aromatherapy = Put rosemary leaves, water, a wedge of lemon or orange and a teaspoon of vanilla into a sauce pot. Let it simmer on low all day but watch the water level or put it in an oil burner.


Adverse reaction:

When taken in large amounts, rosemary can cause abortion to pregnant women, kidney dysfunction and might worsen existing neurological conditions like epilepsy.