Sunday, May 24, 2009

Plant Medicine

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Cinnamon is one of the most popular medicines in history.

It has been used around the world for many centuries to stimulate digestion and circulation and to combat respiratory infections. Modern research points to a potential benefit in diabetes, linked in part to a constituent cinnamaldehyde.


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Feverfew is a bitter herb sometimes known as the ‘mediaeval aspirin’ for its ancient reputation in reducing fevers and headaches. Its modern popular use in migraine prevention has been supported by clinical trials. A major problem has been that much ‘feverfew’ available to the public has not been the right species or has lacked the active parthenolide constituents.


Valerian is both one of the most established plant remedies in modern medicine yet its mechanism of action is still unknown. Today it is generally viewed primarily as a mild sedative, but in antiquity it had wider applications, including as a general tonic. Modern human studies of variable quality suggest that valerian may help with insomnia and improve overall sleep quality (particularly in poor sleepers), relieve tension, and support relaxation.

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The strong aroma of chaste trees around the Mediterranean in late summer has long been associated with women. The berries have been used at least since the Middle Ages in Europe to relieve problems associated with the menstrual cycle, and to dampen sexual desire in men! Modern research shows the berries may suppress the secretion of the female hormone prolactin by acting on the dopamine receptors in the anterior pituitary gland.

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