February 20, 2017
LICORICE (Glycrrhiza glabra)
Licorice has been a staple of culinary and medical herbalists since ancient times. It is a cornerstone of Chinese herbal medicine for two reasons. First, licorice helps coat and soothe irritated mucous membranes making it beneficial for sore throats and canker sores to gastritis and Crohn's disease. Licorice is used in throat lozenges for pharyngitis and has been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Chewing on the roots of 3 to 4 year old plants provides friction like a natural toothbrush keeping gums and teeth healthy.
Licorice loves the wet sandy fertile soil of riverbanks. Originally native to southern Europe and central and western Asia, it has been cultivated since Grecian times and is now found all over the world. Greeks, Romans and Native Americans used it for sore throat, bronchial infections, and stomach ulcers. Modern herbalists still use it for these ailments as well as for diabetes, chronic fatigue, Bell's palsy, and adrenal fatigue.
February 13, 2017
Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis)
Comfrey was an herb brought from Europe by settlers who valued its bone and sprain healing properties. While Comfrey has been used for many different problems, modern science has discovered that it does have a high concentration of pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can be toxic. These alkaloids are found in the root more than the leaf. Comfrey should be limited to topical use of leaves only to avoid injury. Never consume comfrey in any form.
It has long been used as a poultice for cuts, scrapes, sprains, insect bites, fractures, and joint inflammation. Studies have been done on a topical preparation made in Germany called Kytta-Salbe for back pain, arthritis, and sprains. It has been found to help as much as a common otc anti-inflammatory agent. This commercial preparation is not available in the US, but it is easy to make a poultice from the plant or powdered herb from the health food store.
December 12, 2016
Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita)
Chamomile, that bright yellow centered daisy flower, has long been used to soothe irritated mucous membranes and GI tracts. Infusions from chamomile flowers have been used for ages as a colic remedy for irritable infants.
The heat of the infusion produces chamazulene which has anti-allergenic properties that prevent the formation of immune cells called leukotrienes which trigger inflammation.This property alone makes it a great herb for helping reduce allergy, asthma, hives, eczema, and conjunctivitis too. In addition chamomile has anti-bacterial and anti-spasmodic properties. Studies have shown chamomile inhibits bacteria and speeds healing of cuts, abrasions, and diaper rash.
November 28, 2016
Plantain Herb (Plantago major, plantago psyllium)
The Plantain family of herbs is very hardy and tends to grow along the roadside where the soil is poorly nourished, dry and well drained. This is not the fruit that is widely consumed in Central and South America. It was once called "white man's foot" by the Native American Indians because the seeds stuck to settler's feet and spread prolifically. It has broad leaves and a tiny cattail appearing bloom with lots of tiny brown seeds.
The tiny brown seeds of the psyllium variety are prized for their fiber content and ability to absorb up to ten times its size in water. It also triggers the release of mucilage. Psyllium seeds have been used as a fiber supplement to help diarrhea, Crohn's disease, constipation, bacterial dysentery, and hemorrhoids. The seeds mucilage helps coat an inflamed gut and soothe hemorrhoids.
October 24, 2016
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon Balm, also called Bee Balm is a member of the mint family with an aromatic lemony smell and mild flavor that make it pediatric friendly. It has been used for centuries as a mood booster for depression and anxiety. It is now used to promote sleep and prevent insomnia.
The light flavored herbal infusion calms indigestion and nerves. The volatile oils which give lemon balm its scent have antispasmodic properties that calm cramping bowels. Lemon Balm also has diaphoretic properties and is used to help quench fevers.
September 26, 2016
Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva)
Fall is coming and with it the ubiquitous sore throat. My favorite herb for sore throat is Slippery Elm. Perfect name, it slips right over your scratchy raw throat coating it with soothing comfort. It is made from the bark of the Slippery Elm tree. Native to North America, Slippery Elm was used by indigenous American Indians as band aids for wounds. They cut the bark from the tree and stuck it on their injured arm or leg. Herbalists still use if this way, recommending the dressing with slippery elm be changed and wound cleaned at least daily. Dressings of slippery elm have helped mastitis, eruptions, and even leprosy.
Burdock (Arctium Lappa)
September 12, 2016
Burdock has a long history as a culinary herb in Asian cuisine. The Japanese and Hawaiians call it gobo. It is chock full of minerals and vitamins such as magnesium, manganese, silicon, and thiamine to name a few. Hawaiians traditionally have used burdock to boost endurance and strength. Burdock has a long taproot with a mild flavor making it easy to cut into rounds and use in soups, stews and stir fries.
Burdock has been found to have high amounts of the prebiotic inulin and the mineral chromium which make it excellent for moderating sugar levels in people affected by diabetes. It also has anti-streptococcal properties which help in fighting skin infections such as carbuncles, boils, acne, sties as well as for tonsillitis and sore throat.
Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
Astragalus is a Chinese herb native to Mongolia and Northern China that has been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2000 years. The root of the plant is harvested in its 3rd to 5th year of growth in full sun and sandy moist soil. It is commonly found as powdered capsules, extracts, or in teas. It is the main ingredient in Chinese Green Jade powder and used to prevent frequent upper respiratory or cold infections, help balance digestion, and as a diuretic.
The astragaloside components have been extensively researched in China and found to stimulate the immune system's macrophages and boost interferon to rid itself of viruses.
An injectable form, Astragaloside IV was developed in China and has been found to promote the effects of lidocaine in reducing arrhythmias during heart attacks and protect the heart tissue from re-profusion damage during surgery or after heart attack. In addition it reduces blood pressure; helps heal viral myocarditis, and can restore 20% of lost function in congestive heart failure
August 1, 2016
Echinacea : Echinacea augustifolia, Echinacea purpura, Echinacea pallida, Purple coneflower
It is the season of Echinacea, the purple coneflower native of central and eastern North America. This glorious purple flower has long been used by Native Americans for treating infections and boosting the blood and immune system.
Echinacea works by stimulating proteins that help balance the immune system by increasing T cells and macrophage (killer immune cells) activity. Thereby helping to destroy free radicals and promote antibacterial and antiviral effects of the immune system. Article for details.
A premier herbal medication in the US and abroad before the advent of antibiotics, Echinacea was used for all types of inflammation. Snake bites, skin eruptions, acne, gangrene, poison ivy, sexually transmitted disease, acute bacterial and viral infections have all been treated with Echinacea. It is mild enough to use chronically for fatigue and chemotherapy complications without increasing side effects.
June 27, 2016
or Urtica dioica, Urtica urens
It seems unlikely that anything as prickly and annoying as stinging nettle could be healthful; but it is. The prickles can cause a dermatitis and sting, but if placed on painful areas of arms and legs from rheumatism, the increase in blood flow to the area helps reduce the pain. Roman soldiers rubbed stinging nettle on themselves to keep warm.
Nettle has had many different uses over the years. It has been smoked to help asthma and cough. The American Indians used it in their diet to help support smaller but strong healthy babies that survived delivery. Nettle has diuretic properties to help with edema from pregnancy and other causes. Nettle is chock full of vitamins and nutrients and tasty when cooked (the prickliness goes away when heated thoroughly). It has been used to boost lactation, regulate menses, help anemia, and support liver function.
May 2, 2016
Cayenne (Capsicum species)
Cayenne is one species of the pepper plant that contain Capsaicin. Capsaicin is the chemical that lends the spicy hot flavor to Southwestern and Latin American cuisine. It also happens to be the chemical that is anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant making it a medicinal herb.
Anti-irritant seems like a misnomer to anyone who has gotten capsaicin in their eyes or on mucous membranes - it stings! However, studies have shown that Capsaicin can ease and heal aspirin-induced upset stomach and fight ulcers. It also reduces pain by depleting the chemical messengers (substance P) that travel the nerves causing pain.
A small amount of cayenne powder in water makes a great remedy for sore throats and toothaches. Topical application to scabies, psoriasis, shingles, and achy muscles has helped relieve pain and itching.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
This wonderfully aromatic culinary herb is native to the sunny, rocky areas of the Mediterranean. Once while hiking El Camino de Santiago in northern Spain with my mother who had a bad cough, an elderly lady offered us a handful of thyme. She recommended we use it in a tea or soup for her cough. Once we could get to some hot water she did make the tea and her cough improved dramatically.
Modern studies have verified that thyme reduces meat spoilage and has anti-microbial properties. Long used by herbalists for coughs, bronchitis, and asthma; studies show that thyme has expectorant properties as well as antispasmodic effects on smooth muscle. This helps the body clear respiratory mucous while calming the muscle spasms of cough and inhibits the infecting microbes growth.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is another popular culinary herb with anti-inflammatory properties. Rosemary's primary effect is to inhibit bacteria and viruses and has analgesic properties.
In European folk medicine, rosemary baths were used to prevent bacterial infection complicating eczema. Rosemary also stimulates blood circulation to the skin helping immune cells migrate to the eczematous skin allowing beneficial antibodies and other immune cells to fight potential infectious organisms.
Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia) or American Skullcap as opposed to Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)
Skullcap is a Native American herb known as a nervine and is used for calming nerves, insomnia, and headaches.
The small lavender flowers are harvested for teas, tinctures, and dried capsules. Flavonoid glycosides are the principal beneficial components. Flavonoids are thought to be responsible for some of the health benefits from plant based diets. Although the flavonoids of Scutellaria laterifolia have not been rigorously studied, the herb has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.
Native Americans originally used skullcap for menstrual problems, expelling placenta after childbirth, and kidney problems. When Dr. Van Derveer used it for rabies symptoms in 1733, skullcap came to be known as "mad-dog weed". Since the 1900's, skullcap has been used to relieve stress, anxiety, insomnia headaches, and a number of neurological conditions. It is especially useful for insomnia from an overactive mind.
January 25, 2015
Curcuma longa (another herb in the Ginger family) is a spectacular anti-inflammatory herb that is widely used throughout the world.
The bright yellow color in turmeric is from the curcuminoids in the rhizome of the plant. The yellow color has been used for dying everything from fabric to mustard to popcorn. Its medicinal uses have been used extensively from the ancient Ayurveda medicine tradition to modern medicine.
Numerous studies since the 1970's have determined that turmeric reduces inflammation in a variety of autoimmune based and inflammatory diseases. It acts by blocking the effects of the pro inflammatory chemical arachidonic acid. Turmeric increases the livers' glutathione concentration which directly helps the liver clear all noxious chemicals. It also shows promise by blocking the amyloid plaque deposits of Alzheimers disease.
Turmeric likes warm, well drained soil, sun or light shade and high humidity. It grows three feet tall as stemless leaves from a fleshy rhizome that is a dull orange color inside. The rhizomes are heated by steam or boiling and then dried and ground into a fine powder. Many chefs use it in the cuisine of the Middle East and Asia.
August 10, 2015
My friend Mike White, the Optimal Breathing Coach, built a career out of helping people breathe better. I have seen his exercises help people on various breathing medications who were too winded to walk across the room be able to walk to the parking lot and back again. His breathing exercises help measure improvements in breathing from continued practice.
Not content with practicing and teaching, he has also researched reported symptoms of breathing difficulty from people with various diseases such as ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Sleep Disorders and many more. The data reveals clients with these conditions reported increased symptoms related to poor breathing and increased stress. They also reported improvement in their stress after working on his breathing exercises.
Dr. Rose's Corner - Autism
July 27, 2015
When I read The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, an autistic 13 year old with limited verbal skills, I was intrigued about this early teen's insight into autisms troubling behaviors. Naoki talks about how difficult it is for autistic children to bring body regulation under conscious control. When he tries to do what others want and continually fails he feels devastated that he has disappointed others. Most of all he laments how no one knows/sees/understands how hard it is for autistic individuals to perform this self-regulation the rest of us take for granted. Imagine how hard it must be to try and then not get any recognition from others for your efforts.
Many disorders require high energy to attempt to regain previously easy self-regulation. But the inability to communicate creates the added stress of being misunderstood by others. This means less positive reinforcement for your efforts and more energy to continue to try. Despite these many difficulties, Naoki developed a remarkable communication ability using a word board to overcome his lack of speech. He also has a persistent mother who has enabled him to author several books and grace us with some understanding of what autistic children experience.