Medicinal Herbs may be found packaged almost anywhere on the planet.  This shelf was photographed in the Dominican Republic.

Discover how you can use plants to heal by reading the manuscript below.

Direct links to topics in this Newsletter:

Chinese Medicine                             Pacific Botanicals                                        
Homeopathic  Medicine                   Echinacea
Naturopathic Medicine                     Immune Enhancing Herbs
Authors Favorite Herbs                    Herbs That Clean Indoor Pollution
Merz's Pharmacy                              Nutritional Healing

To order video:  (800) 487-0522 ($19.95)

(What follows is part of the transcript from the video Natural Health with Medicinal Herbs and Healing Foods: A good overview of the use of medicinal plants as food and medicine)

For thousands of years, humans and plants have co-evolved. Plants are a primary source of food and medicine, a single plant produces over 10,000 chemicals. These unique chemistries nourish and protect us. To feel better, to reap the health benefits of plants that heal, just sit back, relax, and follow the tips in newsletter.

Research from around the globe is validating the healing powers of herbs, spices and medicinal plants. Everywhere you look, plant food has become plant medicine. Studies here and abroad are substantiating health claims for lesser known botanicals not traditionally used in this country as food, dietary supplements, or botanical medicine.

The clinical record of humanity struggling for supremacy over disease is largely a record of healing with plants. Chinese medicine, 4,000 years old, is the archetypical mother of the medicinal plant story.

Traditional Chinese medical doctors use a pharmacopoeia of over 1,000 plant substances to treat disease and affect wellness. Although China is a major contributor to botanical research, plant medicine as a primary healthcare alternative is not unique to China. Medical herbalist Ed Smith explains the broad reach of botanical medicine. (More Chinese Medicine)


"The World Health Organization claims that three out of every four people on this planet use herbal medicine as their primary health care, which is somewhat shocking to a lot of people in the United States.  In the United States, if you use herbs, you're usually thought of as a minority or somewhat or a kook or a quack or whatever or at least someone who is very eccentric to use herbal medicine instead of the orthodox medicine that's available through a drug store. And yet when you look at the world's population, three out of every four people on this planet use herbal medicine as their primary health care, so in other words, not to use herbs is to be unusual. Now, herbal medicine was thriving in this country for many, many years up until about the 1930s. In fact, through the 1920s, you could go into any drug store in New York City or any small town in Iowa or California, and you could buy herbal extracts, the same herbal extracts that we make today here at HerbPharm, and they were made by Lilly, Squibb, Parke-Davis, major pharmaceutical companies who manufactured hundreds of different herbal extracts and poultices and liniments. Unfortunately, when the second World War came along, with the advent of modern chemistry, herbal medicine really just sort of went out of vogue."


Today there's renewed interest in herbal therapies. Why the renaissance? Let's visit Merz's Pharmacy in Chicago, Illinois to find out. This classic 19th century corner drug store has been formulating herbal remedies for over 100 years. Owner and pharmacist Abdul Kaiyum explains the renewed interest in medicinal plant supplements.


I find that more and more people are turning toward less harmful, easy-to-take, safe alternative remedies, mode of treatment, whether it's homeopathy, herbs, chiropractor, naturopath, acupuncturist... You can tell that the public wants to know more, they want to know what else is available other than what the conventional medicine says.


Many physicians agree that staying well, disease prevention and health maintenance require good mental health, exercise, nutritional variety, vitamin and mineral supplements, and the appropriate use of protective and healing pharmaceuticals. In addition, there is evidence supporting the selective use of botanical extracts. But there's a problem: the health benefits of plant supplements are often exaggerated. How do you sort the truth from the half truth? And to whom do you ask the question, are all medicinal plants perfectly safe?

Many medicinal plants have potentially toxic chemistry, only a professional healthcare provider should prescribe the use of medicinal plants. Doctor Jim Balch, urologist and surgeon and his wife Phyllis, a nutritional consultant, have simplified the use of plant foods and medicinal plants in their landmark books Prescriptions for Cooking and Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing. What is nutritional healing?


"Nutritional healing has to do with the fact that God has provided us with foods that heal. There are nutritional components in foods, we call them phytochemicals, that have positive effects on the immune system, upon the body in general, stabilizing it and so on. So we need plant nutrients. But unfortunately, most doctors like myself were never trained in that area, we were never taught that nutrition played any role at all in better health. In fact, were taught to take care of disease entities after the fact. Scripture says that God will satisfy our mouths with good things so that our youth can be renewed like an eagle. If you want to be healthy, you need to satisfy your mouth with those things that are filled with the nutrients that our bodies require. It's nothing new, it's been known for centuries, it's beginning to come around again though, in the realm of understanding of even the physicians. There are many who are like me, who are beginning to alter their directions in the practice of medicine to include nutritional support. I think it's extremely important that people begin to feed their intellect, their knowledge about these things. There's no question that there's a revolution going on in healthcare today. The doctors are not happy with the way healthcare is being provided and especially the patients aren't. The patients are going to have to take an active role in their healthcare management, they're going have to learn that there are certain things that they should do and shouldn't do. And basically, what they're going to find out is it's just very basic common sense, that you don't want to poison your body and you do want to put the things in your body that will provide an optimal state of health. The prophet Josiah said centuries before Christ that our people are perishing, they're literally being destroyed because they do not have the knowledge, they lack the knowledge. These books, the prescriptions, and there'll be more we hope in the future, will help people establish the fact that there are things that are very basic and they need to know about it and they can know about it."


Naturopathic physicians like Ed Alstat of the Eclectic Institute may prescribe plant supplements as a part of a holistic approach to good health.


"The patient really is the person that's in charge of their health and they're the ones that ultimately the responsibility is on. No matter which physician you're going to, the physician does very little to alter their illness, but he is their teacher. And often in naturopathic medicine we find that our part, our role of treating disease is in an avenue of stimulating the body to heal itself and at the same time, there are methods that can speed this healing that are outside the realm of our practice, and in those cases, the referral to a regular physician or to a surgeon or to someone for chemotherapy even is very much in line with our philosophy."


Plant extracts are used both by naturopathic and homeopathic physicians to affect wellness. Homeopaths use plant chemistry in a unique way: the minute dilution of the plant's active ingredient is prescribed to potentiate, that is to stimulate the body to heal itself. Homeopathic practitioner Dr. Randal Bradley explains.


"Homeopathy is a system of natural medicine distinct from naturopathic medicine and herbology. It's approximately 200 years old and has been used worldwide and is currently very popular in Europe and India, South America. In Europe, medical doctors are the principal prescribers of homeopathic remedies, the royal family of England uses a homeopathic physician as their principal physician. Homeopathic remedies are manufactured from natural substances, particularly herbs and minerals and some animal products. The remedies are manufactured by a homeopathic pharmacist according to the regulations of the FDA, it's quite closely regulated. The remedies, unlike most types of medicines, are very dilute and so they're quite safe to use, even compared to herbs, which are often used in low doses, they're very much more dilute than that. The most distinctive thing about homeopathy is the principle which we prescribe on: homeopathic remedies are prescribed based on the concept of like treats like. And that means basically that if a particular person presents with a set of symptoms, we use a remedy that can actually causes the symptoms in a healthy person. An example of that would be with ipecac. As everyone knows, ipecac is used to induce vomiting when someone has...has a...taken something poisonous. Well, homeopaths use ipecac in a homeopathic remedy, which is again very dilute, specially prepared, to treat people who have persistent nausea. An example would be nausea of pregnancy. The other examples of how this principle might be different between herbology and homeopathy is Podophyllum called "May Apple" is a relatively toxic herb, it's not widely used, but it has been used in the past and it's used to stimulate bioproduction in the gall bladder. But if it's used in too large a doses, it produces watery diarrhea. So you might guess, homeopaths would use the remedy made from podophyllum, it's also called Podophyllum peltatum, to treat people who have watery diarrhea."


Homeopathy, the use of dilute amounts of plant substances and other chemistries to help the body heal itself. Now let's take a look at traditional Chinese medicine and how it differs.

Traditional Chinese herbalists use single plants or combination of plants to optimize performance. The plants or their extractions, are taken often like food to cleanse and nourish organ systems, to keep them in balance. Like naturopathic and homeopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine prescribes to natural law: that is humankind coevolved with the plant kingdom. In theory then, the plant kingdom contains all the nutrients to prevent illness and restore balance to the organ systems when you are sick. This is a holistic system of mind, body and spirit working together in balance and harmony.

Plant medicine in Taiwan today is modern, sophisticated. Sheng Chen Laboratories in Taiwan uses over 600 plants in over 100 proprietary herbal formulas. These plant pharmaceuticals are inspected, tested and approved by the National Health Board, the equivalent of our Food and Drug Administration. Laboratories and manufacturing facilities have the latest scientific investigative tools. Sheng Chen, Chinese herbal formulas are available in the United States through Qualiherb. According to Chinese studies, Qualiherb's plant extracts may boost immunity. Protecting and boosting the immune system is a major thrust of plant research. Scientists are testing plant foods and botanical chemistries that nourish and protect the major defense systems of immunity. A weakened immune system predisposes you to infections and cancer. On the other hand, an overactive immune system may lead to allergies and autoimmune diseases. Let's discover the many ways that we can use plants to protect, nourish and strengthen our immune system.

We benefit from plants without eating them; plants recycle our air, cleaning contaminants out and putting fresh oxygen in. To take advantage of this cycle, we simply have to bring plants indoors. In a typical day, we inhale over 20,000 cubic feet of still, indoor air containing, benzene, trichloroethylenes and formaldehyde released from fabric, detergents, adhesives, foam paddings and foam insulation and carpets. NASA research suggests that several plants filter these indoor pollutants from the air. Formaldehyde is filtered by a Philodendron, Mother-in-Law's Tongue, Spider Plant, Golden Pothos, Bamboo Palm, Corn Plant and Chrysanthemums. To control benzenes and trichloroethylenes, use English Ivy or Chrysanthemums. The next time you shop at your garden center or florist, buy yourself a Peace Lilly, Chinese Evergreen and some Bromeliads - they also purge indoor air of pollutants.

Okay, so house plants may provide protection from polluted indoor air, but what if toxins have already entered your body from other environmental hazards, such as tainted water, auto emissions, smog and heavy metal pollution? These toxins may weaken your body's defense systems, making you vulnerable to infections, cancer, allergies, premature aging and other immune function disorders.

Plant foods can help keep you well, especially plant foods high in cancer-fighting anti-oxidants. For example, American research suggests that ample amount of vitamin E may provide smog protection. Many plant oils are high in vitamin E, so for smog protection, take a daily tablespoon of corn oil, wheatgerm oil or soybean oil. Or munch a handful of sunflower seeds or a half dozen almonds.

Vitamin C is biochemically similar to interferon, it impairs viral replication, providing both flu and cold protection. Scientists and nutritionists say the damage from agricultural herbicides and pesticides may be blunted by ingesting rich sources of vitamin C. Daily variety is essential - eat green, yellow and red peppers, citrus fruits, fruit juices. Guava is super rich in vitamin C, as is Papaya. Kiwi has more vitamin C than an orange.

Vitamin A is absolutely vital. Vitamin A may potentiate interferon's ability to stimulate the immune system. Vitamin A is antiviral and anticancer. Carrots, spinach, beet greens, and dandelion leaves provide ample amounts of vitamin A in its safe and effective beta carotene form. Other super sources of vitamin A are parsley leaves, watercress, bok choy, canned apricots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and squash. As you know, cruciferous plants, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and kohlrabi are high in cancer fighting vitamin A and vitamin C.


Another family of toxins, heavy metals, infects us from industrial smog, cooking utensils, contaminated fish and meat, pesticide sprays, drinking water, dental fillings and a few cosmetics. The most damaging metals are mercury, nickel, aluminum, cadmium and lead. Anti-oxidants already discussed, vitamins E, A and C provide some protection. Heavy metal contamination can be further reduced by eating plants high in phosphorus and sulphur. This includes garlic, chives, onions, pinenuts (pinoli), brazil nuts and walnuts.

Other organ nourishing and cancer protecting elements from plants and zinc, calcium and magnesium. Best plant food sources include tofu, kale, collard greens, wheat germ, Brazil nuts, filberts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, beans and lentils. And get this: corn germ has nearly ten times the zinc of wheat germ. Soviet research suggests apple pectin, a soluble fiber hastens the removable of toxic metals from the body. Soluble fiber from peas, blackeye peas, prunes, pears and oat bran also speed toxins from the body.

So there are many plant foods that are good medicine. They are your cheapest and safest form of prevention. Be certain to read the health protecting plant chemistry charts in the brochure that comes with this program. Discover plant foods that may help protect you from asthma, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, strokes, ulcers, inflammation, infections, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Here are a few more inexpensive ways to protect your health. Sprout alfalfa seeds and wheat and barley seeds, then plant them in your garden or in a window box. Alfalfa leaves contain minerals in balanced form, optimizing absorption. Alfalfa leaves appear to have all known vitamins and are rich in cancer fighting anti-oxidants. Wheat and barley grass may be anti-inflammatory and healing to the stomach and the intestines. Like alfalfa, wheat and barley grass contain flavonoids that may block receptor sites of some cancer-causing hormones. Fresh barley grass may lower blood cholesterol. Four day old sprouts contain hordenine, which may relieve bronchial spasms.

What's this, an old growth forest? It's garlic, plant medicine that helps us grow old gracefully. To grow garlic shoots, simply push garlic cloves into a window box, and in a few days, garlic shoots. Great on beans, soup, salads, pasta... Squeeze ample amounts of raw garlic into salad dressings. It contains alliin, it is antibiotic. Garlic may thin the blood, reducing blood pressure and may lower serum cholesterol. Try steaming garlic for ten minutes in a wok, then spread it on toast with perhaps some goat cheese or feta cheese garnished with a tomato. Research suggests the sulfide compounds from steamed garlic or garlic soup, may provide you with colon cancer protection and may prevent platelet aggregation, perhaps reducing the potential for blood clots. Steamed or saut�ed garlic are mild tasting, not scented or acidic. Saut�ed garlic may be anti-inflammatory and may improve asthmatic conditions. Aged garlic that is dried over a period of 15 months or more contains gamma glutamyl allyl cystine. It may be anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, protecting you from cell damaging free radicals.

When salad making, don't forget tomatoes - they contain gamma-amino-butyric acid, GABA. In clinical trials, GABA from tomatoes reduced hypertension. Tomatoes also contain lycopene and flavonoids, chemicals that help your body resist cancer. Finally, wash all the good food down with Japanese green tea, it's cheap and practical cancer prevention. In animal studies, it provided protection from liver, lung, skin and digestive tract cancers. It is mildly diuretic, good for you. Green tea contains tooth decay fighting fluorides, it tones the stomach, protecting you from bacterial and fungal infections.

Okay, it should be obvious by now that the key to good health is nutritional variety. By eating a greater variety of plant foods, your body has a better chance to break down, absorb and utilize the broad spectrum of nourishing and protecting chemistry it needs. And here's a bonus: this plant diet is low in sodium, low in cholesterol and low in saturated fat. It is rich in essential fats and proteins and contains numerous health protecting phytochemicals. Even so, there may be times when you need more protection. Health writer and nutritionist Phyllis Balch juices medicinal and green foods together to get what she calls speed healing.


"Juicing is wonderful, but they should add a part herbs with the juices. By combining herbs with a juice, live juices, then you're getting what we call speed healing. It's much quicker than just taking juices straight - you should never take juices straight anyway, you should dilute it with a little quality water. I prefer to dilute it with herb tea, because herb teas are very healing, and then you combine them with these live vegetable plants and you have nothing better on our planet that has more nutrition in it and more healing. Say if I were making a drink for intestinal disorders, I would choose dandelion greens, kale, spinach, beet tops, Swiss chard and particularly the dandelions, because it's so good for the liver, the liver cleanser. And usually when you have any type of colon or intestinal problems, your liver is malfunctioning also. That's why we need a varied diet, because we need to feed each body part. It may take a different nutrient or different food, and so we need to know which foods are good for which particular illness we may have or which herb and that's what we put into our body. Someone once asked me: which do you think is the most important nutrient and I always tell them: "The one you're lacking!"


Many ailments may benefit from nutritional support using Phyllis' speed healing concept. Acne sufferers may find relief juicing individually or in combination these super foods or these fruit juices. Combine your choice of these herbs and avoid these condiments and foods. Arthritis sufferers may benefit nutritionally by juicing these plants or these three juices and your choice of these herbs, and avoid these condiments and foods. Combining herbs with juices is a great way for mature adults with dentures who have difficulty chewing to get the phytochemicals they need. Please consult with your health care provider before using the juices of medicinal plants and green foods to treat disease. If your physician is unfamiliar with these therapies, share with him these books and this video. Now, let's bring back our other guest and discover more herbs you and your health care provide may want to consider as part of holistic approach to natural health. First, naturopathic physician Ed Alstat.


"Well, the herb to use, I think, to just get started is dandelion, because it's the most abundant plant that I know of in our country and you can use the leaves of the plant, the leaf or the flowers even and then also the root. Most commonly, the root's used and but you will find the leaves available in grocery stores, just regular mainstream grocery stores all over the US, often in springtime you'll find a bunch of dandelions and they are very high in vitamin A is one component, but also, they contain a great number of chemicals such as the equivalent of steroids in a way - they're not really steroids, but they have the chemistry of a steroid that you could really build a steroid from this molecule. Well, I would also pick the simple ones like nettles is very nutritive and its use in fresh stage, which can be used in treating a lot of conditions of the lungs like hay fever and allergies and asthma and so on, and as a regular incorporated into your diet daily, nettles is probably one of the most nutritious herbs available, has a high silica content, for the hair and the nails and also silica's really important for bone formation, with if you're taking calcium, magnesium, silica's really necessary to help solidify bone formation. Then a lot of people like to use yellowdock, which is another root and often found very close to the dandelions, you can usually find yellowdock nearby dandelions. And yellowdock is a very good skin for skin problems and so forth and it has an effect on the kidneys in a way that relieves the skin condition. And also yellowdock is very helpful in maybe during times of need of a lot of iron in your system that people will use yellowdock as a source of iron, so they'll incorporate that at times that they're considering pregnancy. It's often found in herbs that are nutritive during pregnancy and it can also be a laxative, so lots of times during pregnancy, there's problems with constipation and so on, and not only does it provide a source of iron, but it provides some relief from the constipation on a natural forum rather than using a synthetic iron, which then of course causes the constipation, whereas this herb has an inherent ability to not only provide the iron but at the same time provide a mechanism where you don't become constipated, too."


OK, now let's tiptoe over to Merz's Pharmacy in Chicago and discover three favorite herbs of Abdul Kaiyum's.


"Another one of my favorite plants now in going into the herbs is chamomile - fantastic plant, there's nothing better. Chamomile we recommend people with sinus problems, when they have plugged up, nothing helps, you breathe in chamomile steam, you know, you make a wet towel, put it over your head, breathe the steam from chamomile tea, works fantastic, cuts again, chamomile is even used a vaginal douche, chamomile can be used for antiseptic value for wounds, chamomile can be used for rinsing hair, chamomile could be used for rinsing hair, chamomile is just 101 uses of chamomile. Another favorite plant again would be St. John's Wort, for...excellent for depression for nerve problems, let's get into little bit more just in first stage things, you know, St. John's Wort is hypericum in homeopathy. If one injures any part that has a large supply of nerves like finger tips, fantastic to use hypericum, which is St. John's Wort. Depression's external, internal...important as homeopathic tablets to take internally, St. John's Wort tea to drink for anxiety, for nervousness, works very well.

One of my favorite herbs, valerian for sleep, works fantastic in combination with hops, passion flower, skullcap, for sleep, you know, relaxes me, I know it works wonderful. We have tea, we have liquid extracts, we have capsules, tablets. You know today, to make an average American more interested in herbs, they have made them into tablets and capsule form, so it's easier to pop a pill, you know."


Now let's discover some of Ed Smith's favorite herbs.


"Well, there are a lot of herbs that you can use in terms of just promoting health and preventative medicine, if you will, and probably one of the simplest and most effective is Echinacea. The reason I say that is Echinacea is a time proven remedy and it's one that's very well researched in terms of modern medicine and modern pharmaceutical research. And what it does, basically, it doesn't stimulate the immune system per se, it potentiates the immune system. It basically helps your body's immune system to deal with things like environmental stress, pollution, bacteria, maybe a flu virus is coming around, by taking Echinacea, it enables your body better resist. So I think Echinacea - if I had to list one herb out of 50 herbs that I would like to see people using, Echinacea would definitely be #1. #2 would probably be Siberian ginseng. I used to recommend Siberian ginseng because it's not as costly. It's a very good product and it is basically what the pharmacists call an adaptagen, and what that means, basically, is it helps your body to adapt to stress. And by stress I mean anything from emotional and psychological stress, the worries of everyday life in America and also physical stress. That could be either athletic endurance or people that work very hard with their physical body or physical stress in terms of environmental pollutions, everything from x-rays and nuclear radiation to lead and cadmium and other pollutants in our air or our water."

"There are more things that I do in my classes that I really encourage people if they're not already doing so to introduce more spices into their diet, and I don't necessary mean hot, spicy foods, which is fine, but things like oregano, and basil and thyme and turmeric, ginger, black pepper, marjoram, just everyday, common spices that not only can enhance the flavor of foods but at the same time can also have some very positive therapeutic actions, especially in terms of preventive medicine. So, again, people quite often look at the exotic herbs in terms of medicinals and the things that are very common and that they see everyday, they somehow don't think that they have any merit, and yet things like oregano, oregano and thyme are very high in a chemical called thymol, which is one of the best infection fighters there is. And I quite often get phone calls from people who have a cold or a flu and they don't have any herbs in their house, and I ask them, well, what have you got in your spice rack? And oregano or thyme as a tea is a....I think it's a delicious tea and at the same time, it has very therapeutic properties, it can help with upper congestion and respiratory congestion. Cinnamon is another great herb, especially if we're dealing with diarrhea or bleeding. And I know midwives who have very good success taking cinnamon tea and giving it to ladies that have post partum hemorrhaging after giving birth."


Doctor Jim Balch believes we can benefit greatly by adding more garlic to our diet.


"In 1990, the first world congress on garlic was held. It was on Washington DC, and it was amazing to me: there were 75 papers presented with the amazing qualities of garlic enhancing the immune system, lowering cholesterol, improving the circulation, improving arthritis, using it for cancers on the skin, in the urinary tract, in the prostate, it's amazing to me. But we've seen that happen in our own practice with patients, and so aged garlic extract is one of the primary things that we use in our treatment of patients. There are many other herbs we're very interested in immune enhancement, we think the key is to enhance our immune system. Astragalus is an immune enhancer, Echinacea, Pau d'Arco, Golden Seal, are all powerful immune enhancers and should be incorporated in a person's diet, since when our immune system is defective, we're sick people. In fact, we believe that we live in a day to day where there's a chronic immune deficiency syndrome present in our people. If we can work with them to show them how to keep from poisoning their immune system and then enhance it, their whole state improves dramatically."


Phyllis Balch likes the herb Golden Seal.


"...and golden seal, I love golden seal, I love golden seal for many reasons, not just as a tea, because you can use it if you should have inflamed gums, or if you have inflammation like I had in my hand the other day out working in the garden and it swole up, I just put a little golden seal extract on it and by morning it was gone. And one time my doctor had to do some gum surgery and he gave me antibiotics and I got so deathly ill and my gums still with all the antibiotics for days nothing happened and I finally got off of the antibiotics and I put a little golden seal in my mouth before I went to bed that night and held it there on my gums, the next morning it was gone."


Thanks, Phyllis. Now let's go to Pacific Botanicals and discover more about golden seal and other immune enhancing plants. Here's owner, herb farmer, Mark Wheeler.


"I have a company called Pacific Botanicals in Oregon, and we've been raising medicinal herbs and spices for about ten years. We're a certified organic farm, and we're organic because we found that there's a need for high quality herbs and spices grown without chemicals. We supply mainly pharmaceutical companies who make extracts and we also sell to health food stores and some practitioners. More what we do is develop production systems for new plants that haven't been cultivated. We've also seen a demand for Chinese herbs and various herbs that don't grow in this country, and I think the reason for the demand on Chinese herbs is because China has one of the oldest continual medicinal systems in the world and they know their plants real well and what they do. Some of the ones that we're working with right now are Siberian ginseng and Astragalus membranaceus, Shizandra chinensis , 'course Gobo burdock root and a few others.

JIM (Immune System Enhancing Herbs)

Let's take a longer look at these immune enhancing herbs. Astragalus membranaceus is a legume common in China and now grown in the United States. It contains polysaccharides that may increase interferon production, perhaps reducing the incidence and duration of viral infections such as the flu, colds and viral heart disease. Aquaeous extracts of Astragalus may nourish the spleen, helping the body differentiate from self and invading organisms. Research is in progress to discover the effects of Astragalus on autoimmune diseases. In China, clinical trials using a multi-component herb decoction containing Astragalus was active against cyrrhosis of the liver. 65% of the patients were improved or restored to normal. The Astragalus root decoction also shrunk swollen spleens. In animal studies, it protected livers from chronic hepatits and carbon tetrachloride poisoning. Astragalus root decoction may increase energy and improve adrenal function. In the United States, Astragalus membranaceus is commonly available in health food stores and is used by millions world wide. I've purchased root slices from several stores in Chicago's Chinatown. A traditional Chinese medical doctor showed me how to simmer six root slices in two cups of water. The brew is cooked down to one cup of water, then I squeezed the remaining moisture from the root slices into the beverage. I drank it straight up or with green tea or use it as a soup base. Inforamtion about Astragalus and other plants discussed in this program has been gleaned from science journals worldwide. A comprehensive approach to tapping the global plant research information base is NAPRA Alert. NAPRA Alert is a natural products data base conceived and pulled together by Dr. Norman Farnsworth at the University of Chicago. NAPRA Alert data may be accessed by your personal computer. For more information on NAPRA Alert services, see the research directory at the end of this program. OK, back to Pacific Botanicals. Gobo burdock has edible roots, Arctium lappa sold here in the US is found in Oriental markets fresh or dry. Roots are thinly sliced, one rounded teaspoon simmered in two cups of water makes a blood purifying tea. It's also eaten in soup or stir fry. Chinese traditional doctors and a few naturopathic doctors may prescribe the seed to treat colds, sore throats, coughs, measles and mumps. According to Michael Moore in his book Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West, burdock root tea may be beneficial against chronic skin eruption such as psoriasis and acne. Ingesting seeds may cause adverse reactions - they should not be eaten unless under the supervision of a physician. Schizandra chinensis is a climbing vine commonly called magnolia vine. It produces a fruit that may have adaptogenic properties. According to the color atlas of Chinese traditional drugs, distributed by CRC Press, the dried fruit of Schizandra is used for chronic diarrhea, treating emphysema, relief from asthma and coughs, to reduce night sweats and to tonify the kidneys.

Schizandra is considered an adaptogen, that is it helps our body adapt to non-specific stress, so we may resist disease, so athletes can run farther faster, and guys like me can remember longer. Now, what was that I was talking about? Oh yes, Schizandra. Schizandra is available over the counter in health food stores and Seventh Day Adventist supermarkets. Seventh Day Adventist supermarkets are loaded with plant foods that heal, one source shopping for the health conscious consumer. This is Eleutherococcus senticosus or Siberian ginseng. It is considered an immune-enhancing adaptogen. Compounds in the plant may increase the capacity of the immune system to resist adverse biological, chemical and physical stress. Wow. Siberian ginseng tea appears to be prophylactic, preventing the flu and colds. Soviets claim Siberian ginseng increases energy, cures insomnia, may restore color vision and may improve memory. Chinese scientists report it may improve longevity, increase vigor and stimulate appetite. Safety is undetermined by the FDA. The Herb tea, two or three tablespoons of herb, simmered for ten minutes in two cups of water, is consumed worldwide. It is widely available in capsules, standardized extracts are dried, cut and sifted.

In his handbook of medicinal plants, botanist Jim Duke gives Siberian ginseng tea a rating of three, which means he considers it safer than coffee. Mike Ganus, owner of VitaKing Products, feeds his racing pigeons Siberian ginseng tea, combined with other herbs, to protect them from infections and improve their racing performance. These teas and herbal performance capsules, formulated by yours truly, are used worldwide by healthy pigeons that fly farther and faster. Debbie Ganus of VitaKing is cradling a North American speed record holder. The Ganuses recently turned down 35,000 dollars for one of their fine racing birds.

American ginseng root, Panax quinquefolius, and oriental ginseng, Panax ginseng are considered by many prime adaptogens. According to Chinese studies, ginseng root and root extracts may increase leucocyte production and stimulate phagocytosis. T-cells may be stimulated by ginseng and anti-bodies may be multiplied. Natural killer cell activity may be increased. Recent research results undergird the traditional use of ginseng in the treatment if diabetes. The biologically active phytochemicals are called gensenoside. Naturopaths may use ginseng extract to treat impotence, stress, cocaine withdrawal, diabetes and radiation sickness. The use of ginseng may have side effects - see a holistic health care practitioner before embarking on therapy using the herb. Dr. Jim Duke and his book, Ginseng, from Reference Publications, hypothesizes that the common carrot may be as beneficial as ginseng. A sobering thought, given the difference in price between ginseng and carrot. We'll get back to Dr. Duke's hypothesis in a moment.

I've consumed ginseng and ginseng tea now off and on for several years without any noticeable effect, but over the next three stressful weeks while I finish the video, I'm going to take ginseng daily, then at the end of the tape, I'll report on my personal findings. But now, let's take a look at ginger root.

Oriental ginger, Zingiber officinale, may suit gastro-intestinal complaints and may provide cancer protection for the digestive system. A British study suggests oral doses of ginger extract taken prior to an operation may prevent post operative vomiting and nausea. Numerous studies report ginger extract may relieve motion sickness and related nausea. Ginger, like garlic, may reduce blood pressure, lower serum cholesterol, prevent clotting and lower heartbeat rate. Ginger may also reduce fever and may relieve symptoms of asthma. Ginger as food is generally recognized as safe by the FDA. Chinese studies suggest ginger and ginseng combinations may help treat cirrhosis, hypotension, hepatitis, neuralgia, peptic ulcers, morning sickness, chills, diarrhea, dysentery, headache, fever and anemia. If all that proves true, and I'm not saying it will, but if it does, and if Dr. Duke's hypothesis that a carrot may be as beneficial as ginseng, then my shaved carrot and ginger toast may be the greatest discovery since penicillin. I'm saying this is great science, but it's good toast! The cinnamon in the toast is antiseptic - ample amounts suppress decay-causing bacteria, ugenol in cinnamon depresses pain.

Cone flowers include several species: Echinacea purpurea,  Echinacea angustifolia, the rare Echinacea tennesiensis, Echinacea pallida and Echinacea paradoxa. Echinacea purpurea, angustifolia and pallida are under investigation for their immunostimulating effects. Echinacea extracts may also stimulate interferon production, helping to organize the body's defense systems. There's evidence Echinacea may enhance T-cell transformation and stimulate T-cells into action. Echinacea extracts may help the body tumor cells. Laboratory tests prove it effective against Candida,  Lysteria and herpes infections. Cone flowers help the body fight colds and flue. Echinacea extract may compensate for the side effects of the anti-rejection drug Cyclosporin A. Echinacea may diminish the negative effects of radiation therapy and may improve arthritic conditions. Cone flower extracts have been available in this country for over 80 years, but they have yet to receive approval for quality, safety and efficacy from the Food and Drug Administration. In Europe there are over 300 preparations containing echinacea. Premium extracts like this one at Ed Smith's and this Lloyd extraction at the Eclectic Institute are available in health food stores nationwide.

Now how about some mushrooms. These are Reishi mushrooms, Ganadoderma lucidum and these are Shiitake and Enoki mushrooms. These oriental mushrooms have been eaten as food and used medicinally in the Far East for thousands of years. Reishi is purported by the Chinese to lengthen lifespan. Animal studies in China and Japan suggest Reishi extracts may strengthen the immune system, increasing phagocytosis and antibody proliferation. Keep in mind that animal studies do not prove a thing as to the effect of reishi on humans. Active ingredients are triterpenoids and polysaccharides. Spores from Reishi may be anti-inflammatory. Chinese drug stores and groceries sell Reishi mushrooms and rishi tea. These Shiitake mushrooms grown on Dr. Ed Alstat's farm in Oregon may contain immunostimulating phytochemicals. Shiitake may provide some cancer protection, not scientifically proven in the west. Shiitake and these Enoki mushrooms are available as food, purchased at oriental groceries or gourmet supermarkets, nutritious, tasty natural products that may provide health support during times of low resistance.

This is goldenseal, Hydrastis canadensis. It contains berberine and hydrastine and a few thousand other chemicals. The powdered root tea is a bitter tonic, a digestive aid. Naturopathic physicians use the herb to strengthen the immune system. It may stimulate macrophage activity, and may stimulate the liver and gall bladder. Indian researchers suggest berberine is effective against cholera and diarrhea. It is antibiotic, providing protection from bacteria, fungi and protozoans. A simple athlete's foot application is made by mixing one quarter teaspoon each of cinnamon, clove and golden seal root powder, to three quarters of an ounce of 190 proof grain alcohol. It works for me, but you may want to consult your healthcare provider before using goldenseal as medicine.

Keep up to date on medicinal plant research by subscribing to Herbalgram. Herbalgram, the journal of the American Botanical Consul and Herb Research Foundation is timely and on target. Join the American Botanical Consul today.

Gingko biloba leaves contain flavo-glycosides that according to Asian and European studies block platelet activation factor, thereby slowing the degenerative metabolic activity of aging. European studies show Gingko improves memory and reaction time. Gingko is prescribed to treat macular degeneration of the retina, dizziness, asthma, tinnitis, cochlear deafness and male impotence. It takes a large volume of gingko leaves to collect medicinal amount of gingkolides and bilobalides. But gingko trees, like all plants, have varying amounts of biologically active compounds, from one tree to the next, or even from one leaf to the next. To solve this dilemma, European drug manufacturers extract, purify and standardize biologically active gingko compounds. Standardization assures the consumer they are getting a purified amount of gingko extract that has been proven safe and effective in European trials. Keep in mind our Food and Drug Administration does not automatically accept foreign trials as proof of safety and efficacy. Therefore in the United States, medicinal plants are sold as food supplements, not medicine. Note there are no medical claims on labels. US consumers must rely on print media and other sources for reliable information on medicinal plants they want to consume. Dr. Jim Duke has two huge data bases from CRC Press. Tables include effective doses, inhibitory concentrations, lethal and toxic doses, including 15,000 phyto-chemicals from over 1,000 higher plant species. And of course there is the information contained in this CD Rom: Herbal Odyssey.

We've covered a lot of ground, but there's still much to cover. As you recall, I started using ginseng daily three months ago while finishing this video. During the same period, I shortened my sleep and lengthened my working hours without noticeable fatigue and without illness. I've stopped the ginseng therapy, because it was just too expensive, but if I were to climb Mt. Everest next week, I would probably go back on the herb.