The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

Eating Peppers Could Hold the Key to Parkinson’s Prevention

Bell Peppers

This one came as a huge surprise to me. Not the fact that eating peppers is good for us, but the reason why eating peppers could help prevent the onset of Parkinson’s disease. The key is nicotine.

Crazy, right? For years, we’ve been told how terrible nicotine is for us, but it might actually have some benefit, if eaten in foods rather than taken in as a chain-smoker.

Interestingly, peppers are a member of the same botanical family as tobacco and contain small amounts of nicotine as a result. Research studies have shown that people who eat peppers (it really doesn’t specify which variety) at least twice per week have a much lower instance of contracting Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers at the University of Washington studied this phenomenon and published their findings in the Annals of Neurology. Go read about it and see how they made this conclusion. Of course, they still plan to do more studies to confirm the results, but hey, it’s a great excuse to eat a delicious vegetable, just in case.

As a person that was raised by two chain-smoking parents, I detest the idea of my starting to smoke just to potentially avoid Parkinson’s. I don’t recommend you doing it either. Stick to eating yummy peppers instead.

Also, be sure to check out the full page of information about Cayenne peppers to learn more about their medicinal benefits.



Resource Links

Futurity: Can Eating Peppers Help Prevent Parkinson’s?

Nicotine from edible Solanaceae and risk of Parkinson disease

University of Washington: Do peppers reduce risk of Parkinson’s?

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Civil War Era Medicinals Found Potentially Effective Against Infection

Civil War Era Medical Guide

Scientists at Emory University took on the study of some medicinal plants cited in a Civil War era medical guide to see if they actually are effective in treating some infections. The guide, Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, Medical, Economical, and Agricultural; Being Also a Medical Botany of the Confederate States, by Francis Peyre Porcher, listed the Devil’s Walking Stick, White Oak and Tulip Poplar as having the ability to fight infections in soldiers.

Since surprisingly, more soldiers died from infection than from Civil War battles themselves, fighting infections was of the utmost importance. So naming these three plants as having antiseptic properties was definitely a big deal of the time. The good news is that Emory’s study of them shows that there’s some validity to their use in fighting infections and more study could show that extracts from them could help us fight drug-resistant bacteria today.

Futurity: The results show that extracts from the plants—the white oak, the tulip poplar, and the devil’s walking stick—have antimicrobial activity against one or more of a trio of dangerous species of multi-drug-resistant bacteria associated with wound infections: Acinetobacter baumannii, Staphylococcus aureus, and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

“Our findings suggest that the use of these topical therapies may have saved some limbs, and maybe even lives, during the Civil War,” says senior author Cassandra Quave, assistant professor at the Center for the Study of Human Health and the School of Medicine’s dermatology department at Emory University.

“Our research might one day benefit modern wound care, if we can identify which compounds are responsible for the antimicrobial activity,” says Micah Dettweiler, the first author of the paper in Scientific Reports.


You can read more about this fascinating study by following the links below. Also, be sure to check out the full pages about these plants and their medicinal uses


Resource Links

Futurity: 3 Plants from U.S. Civil War Medical Guide Fight Infection

Emory University: Civil War plant medicines blast drug-resistant bacteria

Nature.com: American Civil War plant medicines inhibit growth, biofilm formation, and quorum sensing by multidrug-resistant bacteria

Buy It! Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, Medical, Economical, and Agricultural; Being Also a Medical Botany of the Confederate States, by Francis Peyre Porcher

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Broccoli’s Cancer-Fighting Potential Revealed

Broccoli

You may not think of broccoli as a medicinal herb, but read on to find out why it should definitely be included in this category. Recently, there has been a multitude of scientific research into the cancer-fighting potential of broccoli. It seems that a vegetable we have been encouraged to eat all our lives may hold special potential to keep us healthy. Here are some of the recent findings from research studies that show broccoli’s cancer-fighting potential.

Broccoli sprout extract may keep cancer from returning.
Potent doses of broccoli sprout extract activate a “detoxification” gene and may help prevent cancer recurrence in survivors of head and neck cancer, according to new research at the University of Pittsburgh.

Colon cancer is more easily killed by a drug that includes broccoli component.
Colon cancer cells were more likely to die when they were pretreated with sulforaphane, an ingredient found in broccoli, and then treated with a cancer drug currently in development. The concentration used was equivalent to eating a typical serving of broccoli, according to a study at The Swiss National Science Foundation.

A new drug made from broccoli and other plants may help fight breast cancer.
Luteolin, a natural compound found in herbs such as broccoli, may reduce the cancer risk for women who have taken hormone replacement therapy, accroding to a recent study at University of Missouri.

Mouth cancer might be effectively prevented by including broccoli sprout extract in the diet.
Research showing the potential to prevent mouth cancer and other head and neck cancers using broccoli sprout extract has been very promising. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Johns Hopkins University collaborated on the study, which was announced recently at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

Prostate cancer might be treated effectively with a compound found in broccoli.
Research at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Institute of Biosciences and Technology has been studying whether a compound known as sulforaphane, which occurs naturally in broccoli, could be used to treat advanced prostate cancer, with very promising results.

A broccoli component, selenium, may fight melanoma, prostate cancer, and leukemia.
The mineral selenium, which naturally occurs in foods like broccoli and garlic, appears to slow down a process that allows cancers such as melanoma, prostate cancer, and leukemia to spread, according to research at University of Copenhagen.

So your mom was right…Eat your broccoli! And be sure to check out the full page of information about Broccoli to learn much more about this important plant.



Resource Links

Futurity: Broccoli Sprout Extract May Block Cancer’s Return

University of Pittsburgh: Broccoli Sprout Extract May Protect Against Oral Cancer Recurrence

Prevention of Carcinogen-Induced Oral Cancer by Sulforaphane

Futurity: Stuff in Broccoli Helps Drug Kill Colon Cancer

Broccoli ingredient has positive influence on drug efficacy

Sulforaphane Preconditioning Sensitizes Human Colon Cancer Cells towards the Bioreductive Anticancer Prodrug PR-104A

Futurity: Drug Made from Herbs May Fight Breast Cancer

University of Missouri: Natural Compound Found in Herbs, Vegetables Could Reduce Breast Cancer Risk in Some Women

Luteolin inhibits progestin-dependent angiogenesis, stem cell-like characteristics, and growth of human breast cancer xenografts

Futurity: Broccoli Sprout Extract May Prevent Mouth Cancer

Futurity: This Broccoli Compound May Treat Prostate Cancer

SUV39H1/H3K9me3 attenuates sulforaphane-induced apoptotic signaling in PC3 prostate cancer cells

Texas A&M University: Chemical Found in Broccoli May Offer a New Option for Treating Advanced Prostate Cancer

Futurity: How Selenium in Broccoli May Fight Melanoma

The Selenium Metabolite Methylselenol Regulates the Expression of Ligands That Trigger Immune Activation through the Lymphocyte Receptor NKG2D

University of Copenhagen: Selenium compounds boost immune system to fight against cancer

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Herbs That Fight Viruses

Echinacea

As our world is dealing with the onslaught of COVID-19, let’s talk about some herbs that have natural antiviral properties. And the good news is, many of them may already be in your herb garden or cabinet.

These are the usual suspects and not only do they fight against viruses, but most of them also offer immune-boosting effects as well. As we all know, the most effective way to keep from getting sick in the first place is to build a strong immunity. So consider beginning to take them before you get sick.

Here’s the list of the most important antiviral herbs:

Be sure to go check out the full pages to learn more about each herb and decide which ones are right for you. It’s important to know about the individual herbs and their effects since some have harmful interactions with medications and others may have side effects you don’t want.

As a bonus, here is a link to data from a clinical research study into the antiviral capabilities of many herbs and the kinds of viruses they fight.

Stay safe and well! Namaste.



Resource Links

PubMed: Antiviral Natural Products and Herbal Medicines

Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors: Top Ten Natural Anti-Viral Agents

HealthLine: 15 Impressive Herbs with Antiviral Activity

Herbs for Viral Respiratory Infections

IndoIndians: Top 6 Natural Antiviral Herbs

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Steaming to Relieve Congestion

Eucalyptus

One very effective herbal way to help relieve congestion in the sinuses and in the lungs is to do an herbal steam. This is done by bringing a pot of water to a rolling boil, then removing it from the heat. Add either a handful of crushed, fresh aromatic herbs or 2-4 drops of aromatic essential oil to the pot, then drape a towel over the head and lean over the pot to breathe deeply to inhale the steam. Be careful not to get too close to the steam so as not to burn yourself or your lungs.

For small babies, there is a very helpful modification to this process. Boil the water, add the herbs or oils, then set in the room with the child’s bed or crib so the room will fill with the herbal steam. Be careful to set the pot safely out of reach of the child!

You can repeat this every couple of hours, as needed.

When I was pregnant with my oldest child, I came down with a case of the flu so intense that my sinuses were swelled so much that my upper teeth were loose! And, being pregnant, I was unable to take any medication for it. My dear grandfather told me how to do an herbal steam and it made such a huge difference in how I felt that it became my go-to treatment for congestion and coughs ever since. I also used it for both of my children with great success and have recommended herbal steeaming for many people since.

Recommended herbs for steaming:

Be sure to visit the individual herb pages to learn more about these vital medicinal herbs.


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New Research Suggests Elderberries May Lessen Impact of COVID-19

According to recent research studies, another promising herb to help treat coronavirus is elderberry. An article in Elsevier states “…elderberry extracts, have evidence for shortening the duration of influenza by about two to four days and reducing the severity of the infection.”

That’s pretty promising news for anyone already infected with the virus. There isn’t as much research yet into elderberry for treating coronavirus in comparison to research done showing promise for licorice root, but it does look like it may offer hope.

ConsumerLab.com: Elderberry extract has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the replication and hemagglutination of human flu viruses, including certain strains of Influenza A and B, and H1N1. Small, preliminary trials in people with the flu suggest that, taken within the first day or so of experiencing symptoms, elderberry shortens the duration of the flu, but more studies are needed to corroborate this.

For people who do choose to try elderberry extract, it’s helpful to know that it appears to be generally well-tolerated. However, people who are allergic to grass pollen may have allergic reactions to elderberry. Never consume raw elderberries, as these contain toxic compounds that can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness and diarrhea.

Be sure to check out the full page about Elderberry to learn more about it.


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Research Shows Promise of Licorice Root Compound to Fight Coronavirus

Licorice Root Tea

The current spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 is disturbing. We all want to know how to protect ourselves and our loved ones from this dangerous new virus. Well, it turns out that a well-known herbal medicinal may actually be a key in the search for a treatment and potential vaccine. Licorice root contains a compound, Glycyrrhizin, that has been shown in multiple scientific studies to inhibit the ability of the SARS virus (genetically very similar to the new COVID-19 virus) to attach to cells and to grow.

Licorice root has been used for ages in ancient Egyptian medicine and also in Indian Ayurvedic medicine as well as in traditional Chinese medicine. Researchers became curious about this compound when they noticed that people that had both been exposed to coronavirus and who took supplements or drank tea from licorice root did not become infected with the virus.

According to an article in Thailand Medical News “more than 83 published researched papers showing the effectiveness of various phytochemicals contained in Licorice Roots against the then SARS virus. Unfortunately many of that research had only begun during the Post-SARS period and the interests died down in about 2012. It would be great if research entities and also pharma companies around the world picked up on those research and started conducting more detailed research fast with regards to the new coronavirus strain called 2019-nCoV or the commonly referred to as the ‘Wuhan Virus’.

Glycyrrhizin hampers the growth of other viruses too, including herpes, and helps restore liver function in patients with hepatitis C. It is currently being assessed as a treatment for HIV infection, as it slows the replication of the virus in cultured cells.

But until effective treatments are found, or a vaccine developed, everyone should practice the standard precautions of washing and sanitizing hands often, maintaining hygiene and staying away from those infected. Also to maintain one’s immunity, eat well and eat healthy foods, rest and sleep well and exercise. In addition, detailed tests with various disinfection solutions showed that agents based on ethanol, hydrogen peroxide or sodium hypochlorite or ozone are effective against coronaviruses.

But before starting to take licorice root supplements or tea, please note that there are also some very adverse side effects associated with licorice root supplementation and it can be dangerous and even fatal for those with underlying chronic diseases. Be sure to go to the full page on licorice root to learn more.



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Chocolate for Your Sweetheart May Offer Health Benefits

dark chocolateIf you are considering giving your Valentine some chocolate this year, don’t count out chocolate as an option. A recent study shows that eating 100 grams of chocolate each day, or the equivalent of about one bar of chocolate, could have multiple health benefits.

This small amount of chocolate has been shown to improve liver enzyme levels and reduce insulin resistance. And reducing insulin sensitivity has the added benefit of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Who knew that such a yummy treat could be potentially healthy too?

Futurity: “Given the growing body of evidence, including our own study, cocoa-based products may represent an additional dietary recommendation to improve cardio-metabolic health,” says Saverio Stranges, visiting academic at the University of Warwick Medical School.

Stranges says the findings could lead to recommendations by healthcare professionals to encourage individuals to consume a wide range of phytochemical-rich foods, including dark chocolate in moderate amounts.

It’s important, researchers say, to differentiate between the natural product cocoa and the processed product chocolate, which is an energy-dense food. Further, physical activity, diet, and other lifestyle factors must be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time.

Be sure to check out the page about Chocolate to learn more about this fascinating food.



Resource Links

Futurity: Can Chocolate Every Day Protect Your Heart?

University of Warwick: Eating chocolate each day could reduce heart disease and diabetes risk

Daily chocolate consumption is inversely associated with insulin resistance and liver enzymes in the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg study

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Tomatoes Lower Risk of Breast Cancer

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of the vegetables (aka fruits?) that I grew up eating. My family served tomatoes in one form or another at nearly every meal. They are delicious and so very versatile. So it was a delight to discover that they may also provide some protection from breast cancer too.

As women reach menopause, their body mass typically increases, which puts them at greater risk of breast cancer. But a constituent of tomatoes, adiponectin, has been shown in recent studies to reduce breast cancer risk. That is great news for those of us that love tomatoes.

“The advantages of eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato-based products, even for a short period, were evident in our findings,” says Adana Llanos, assistant professor of epidemiology at Rutgers and a research member at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Llanos was a postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center when she conducted the research.

The study also found that the benefits of eating tomatoes increase when the person maintains a healthy body weight.

Futurity: “The take-home message from our study’s preliminary findings is that the beneficial effects of a diet high in lycopene, specifically increasing adiponectin, may explain why tomatoes may be effective at reducing breast cancer risk.”

Be sure to check out the full page about tomatoes to discover their other health enhancing properties!



Resource Links

Futurity: Tomatoes May Lower Women’s Breast Cancer Risk

Effects of Tomato and Soy on Serum Adipokine Concentrations in Postmenopausal Women at Increased Breast Cancer Risk: A Cross-Over Dietary Intervention Trial

Rutgers University: Breast Cancer Risk May Be Lowered with Diet Rich in Tomatoes, Says Rutgers Researcher

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An Avocado a Day Keeps High LDL Cholesterol Away

AvocadoWe’ve been told for years that avocados are good for us and even that they help lower overall cholesterol, but now there’s a scientific study that helps us understand that. And the results may even be better than we expected.

“Including one avocado each day as part of a moderate-fat, cholesterol-lowering diet compared to a comparable moderate-fat diet without an avocado provides additional LDL (low-density lipoproteins) lowering effects, which benefit CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk,” says Penny M. Kris-Etherton, professor of nutrition at Penn State.

Kris-Etherton and a team of researchers recently looked at the ability of three different diets to lower cholesterol and subsequently lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. All three diets consisted of lower to moderate amounts of fat. The differences were that one of the three diets incorporated one avocado each day and one diet included a comparable amount of high oleic acid oils—such as olive oil—to match the fatty acid content of one avocado.

Participants were closely monitored for cholesterol levels and other important health indicators during the study. All three diets lowered the LDL cholesterol levels of the participants. However, the participants that had eaten the diet that included the avocados had even greater reductions in LDL levels.

Futurity: The avocado diet was linked to a decrease in “bad” cholesterol of 13.5 mg/dL, while LDL decreased by 8.3 mg/dL on the moderate-fat diet, and by 7.4 mg/dL on the low-fat diet.

“This was a controlled feeding study, but that is not the real world—so it is more of a proof-of-concept investigation,” says Kris-Etherton. “We need to focus on getting people to eat a healthy diet that includes avocados and other food sources of better fats.”

So don’t just eat guacamole, add some diced avocados to your salad, put some sliced avocados on your next sandwich and make a smoothie with some fruit and an avocado. This versatile fruit can be incorporated in your diet in many creative and tasty ways, so start using it!

Additional researchers from Penn State and the University of South Australia worked on the study, which the Hass Avocado Board, the National Center for Research Resources, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences supported.


Resource Links

Futurity: Daily Avocado Diet May Cut Cholesterol

Journal of the American Heart Association: Effect of a Moderate Fat Diet With and Without Avocados on Lipoprotein Particle Number, Size and Subclasses in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial

Penn State: An avocado a day keeps the cardiologist away

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