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Sunday, February 17, 2008


Healing effects of ‘Saffron Crocus’

The word Saffron, originates from the Arabic word Zafaran, which means yellow. The Saffron Crocus plant was initially cultivated by Minoans of ancient Crete. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, and requires 200,000 flowers (hand-picked) to produce 1 kg of Saffron.

saffron herbSaffron is a bitter-sweet herb that aids digestion, stimulates circulation, and lowers high blood pressure. The Chinese use saffron as a medication to revitalize ‘stagnant liver energy’. Ayurveda uses the herb to strengthen the functioning of the stomach and to cure digestive problems. It is also used in treating cough, bloated stomach and colic.

During the ancient days, saffron was also used as an aphrodisiac, to increase flow of bile, to improve appetite and to deal with menopausal problems.

Apart from treating physical illness alone, saffron is also said to be beneficial in reducing depression. A study, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, stated that saffron works just in the same manner as the modern day anti-depressants. It also enhances the activity of mood-boosting medications.

Another interesting fact is that, a research revealed that saffron inhibits carcinogenesis, and is now being studied as the most-effective Cancer Chemo-preventive agent.

However, it should be noted that Saffron contains a toxin that could cause kidney or nerve damage, when used in excess, and hence should be avoided by pregnant women.

Cardamom - spice that heals

Cardamom is one of the ancient spices in the world, which originates in the forests of Western Ghats in South India, and is a native to the East. However, today it is grown in Gautemala, Tanzanida, Indo China, and Sri Lanka.

Cardamom is an expensive spice, next only to saffron. Cardamom is removed from the seeds of a ginger-like plant. The cardamom pods are available whole or split and the seeds are sold loose or ground. However, it is always best to buy whole pods, as the ground cardamom quickly loses flavor.

Being both, a stimulant and carminative, cardamom, although is not used in western medicine, is excellent for flavouring, and forms the base for medicinal preparations for flatulence and indigestion, along with other ingredients. The spice is considered to be a good aphrodisiac by Arabs, while the Indians use it for treating many conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, kidney stones, anorexia, debility and weakened vata.

In traditional medicine, cardamom is broadly used to treat infections pertaining to gums and teeth, and to prevent throat troubles, pulmonary tuberculosis, congestion of lungs, inflammation of eyelids and digestive disorders. It is also used as an antidote for snake and scorpion venom.

The spice could be consumed by preparing an infusion, wherein a teaspoonful of freshly crushed seeds are poured into a cup of boiling water, and allowed to infuse by leaving it aside for ten to fifteen minutes. This could then be filtered and consumed thrice a day. When using this solution as a cure for flatulence, drink it half an hour before meals.

ABELMOSCHUS MOSCHATUS Medikus - an effective medicinal herb

ABELMOSCHUS MOSCHATUS Medikus, despite being an aromatic and medicinal herb, is hardly known to many. Being an erect, annual herb, the flowers are bright yellow in colour and the herb is found across the foothills of Himalayas and the Deccan.

ABELMOSCHUS MOSCHATUS MedikusAlso known in names such as Kasturibenda, kasturidana, kadu kasturi, or Kattukasthuri, the plant could be recognized with its musk-scented seeds that are mainly useful in medicine and perfumery. The seeds of the plant, also known as Ambrette seeds, have a volatile oil present in their seed coat.

When subjected to steam distillation, the crushed seeds yield an oil, which has a peculiar odour, suggestive of musk. The crude oil appears semi-solid at room temperature, mainly due to the presence of fatty acids, mainly palmitic acid.

The seeds of this medicinal herb are valued for their demulcent, diuretic and stomachic properties. They also serve well as an antiseptic, a stimulant, a tonic, an aphrodisiac, and are cooling and carminative agents too.

The infusion, decoction or the tincture of the seeds are used in cases of hysteria, nervous debility and nervous disorders. The leaves and roots are used as medication for venereal diseases. The stem bark has high fibre content, and could be substituted for jute. The yellow portion of the petals is used in myricetin, flavonoids and cannabiscitrin. The seeds are used as insect-repellant in sachet powders.

In Ayurvedic treatments, the plant is considered to pacify aggravated pitta, kapha, bronchitis, asthma, nausea, dyspepsia, colic, calculi, diarrhea, flatulence, burning sensation, vomiting, and nervous system disorders.

Atun Tree extract effective for diarrhea

The Atun Tree, well-known for its anti-bacterial properties, has now been found to be effective in treating diarrhea, reveals Mayo Clinic collaboration.

The extracts from Atun Tree is said to have the ability to control bacteria that causes diarrhea. These findings have been published by researchers in ‘The British Medical Journal’.

The researchers claim that their study offers an innovative model for drug discovery, by combining ancient, non-traditional medical information, with latest technologies, to bring about natural products for investigations.

Dr. Brent Bauer, Director of Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, said natural products are the invariable sources of healing agents, like for instance, Aspirin was derived from Willow Bark, and TaxolTM was derived from bark of pacific yet tree.

The leaves and kernels of the Atun Tree were collected and alcohol extracts were prepared as per standard protocol. Different concentrations of leaf extract and kernel extract were added to samples of two gram positive bacteria, and two gram negative bacteria, in a minimal concentration assay.

The results revealed that extracts from Atun tree had antibacterial activity, specific for Gram positive bacteria tested. The kernel extract had stronger antibacterial effect, revealed the study reports, and hence was considered suitable for use as an antibacterial agent.

Expert recommendations for treating acidity, the natural way

Acidity is a condition wherein the stomach produces excess quantities of acid, which otherwise helps in digestive process by breaking down food. Although normally there are some protective mechanisms formulated in the stomach and proximal intestine, against the acid, an imbalance between the level of acid secretion and the protective mechanism could lead to acidity.

Rather than popping an over-the-counter pill immediately, these natural remedies could be tried at home for immediate relief.

Boil a cup of water to which a teaspoon of Aniseed (saunf) is added. This could be left overnight, and the strained solution could be sipped early in the morning by adding a teaspoon of honey. This could be consumed thrice a day. Similar process could be repeated with caraway seeds (shah jeera) too, and the solution could be enjoyed while still warm.

Natural ways to keep acidity under control:

Mix together, 25ml each of pomegranate juice, sweet lime juice, or beetroot juice with one teaspoon of honey. This could be sipped on empty stomach for a month.

A long cotton cloth, dipped in cold water, could be wringed and wrapped around the abdomen, and left on for 20 minutes, twice a day.

Alternatively, ant-hill mud could be mixed with water, and applied on the abdomen for 20 minutes twice a day.

Hip baths too could prove helpful too. The region between the thighs and ribs could be immersed in cold water for 15 minutes twice a day.

While on travel, sipping ice-cold water often could offer some respite. Certain other measures such as drinking raw cabbage juice, or Ashgourd juice on empty stomach, avoiding oily and spicy foods, eating small portions of meal at frequent intervals, avoiding caffeine, and practicing breathing exercises could prove helpful.

Herbs beneficial for digestive problems

Herbal remedies have helped in tackling digestive problems since ancient days. Herbs, stimulates digestion, expels flatulence, soothes pain and provides relaxation to the system on the whole. Most herbs used for culinary purposes, by themselves are effective in aiding digestion.

Most digestive problems arise due to excess intake of heavy, spicy and oily foods. A few herbal remedies that come in handy at such times are mentioned here:

Aloe Vera: The crystalline part of the plant, being a strong laxative is used in cleaning the digestive system and the stomach, while also restoring intestinal problems such as gastritis and ulcers.

Cascara Sagrada: The dried bark of the shrub is used as a laxative for chronic constipation. However, it could cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea temporarily. It is available in the form of capsules and can also be used in the form of tea.

Anise: Is used as a diuretic and treats digestive problems and reduces flatulence, colic and bloating.

Catnip: Catnip apart from treating indigestion in adults is also used for treating diarrhea and colic in infants. However pregnant woman are advised against using this herb. It is available as capsules or can be used in the form of liquid or tea.

Dill: Dill is beneficial in treating colic, indigestion and heartburn. It is an ingredient of gripe water and is given to babies to ease discomfort associated with colic. It is available in liquid, oil or dried form.

Peppermint: Eases abdominal pain and nausea associated with indigestion. However, individuals who are prone to allergies could manifest an allergic reaction. It can be consumed as a capsule, tea or liquid.

Antispasmodic herbs: A drink of a cup of tea made of any of the anti-spasmodic herbs, such as, valerian, skullcap, lemon balm, yarrow, wormwood, wild yam, lavender, chamomile, etc., will provide relief from intestinal cramps and relax muscle spasms.

Ginger: is a good digestive aid when it comes to relief from nausea associated with indigestion. Ginger has proven its digestive stimulant properties time and again, since ancient days.

Yellow dock roots: help in improving the conditions associated with a sluggish digestive system, and provides relief from constipation, and liver dysfunction.

Fennel: Works in the digestive tract and relieves bloating and gas.

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