Herbs and their medicinal properties

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Alkaloids

These are nitrogen-rich compounds that have a powerful effect on the mind and body. The classes of molecules include caffeine, nicotine, and atropine. Therapeutically alkaloids have a wide and diverse range of actions that includes; Stimulants, Bronchodilators, Anti-microbials, Anti-inflammatories, Narcotics, and Painkillers.

The Nightshades which include Tomatoes, Belladonna, and Cayenne are a plant family rich in alkaloids.

Anthraquinones

These are powerful laxative chemicals. They are able to pass unaltered and undigested through the small intestine. They stimulate peristalsis as they pass through the large intestine, inhibiting water reabsorption in the small intestine thereby producing a laxative effect.

They are found in herbal laxatives such as Senna leaf, Aloe vera skin, Rhubarb. These are very potent herbs and can sometimes cause abdominal discomfort so are best prescribed alongside the Calmative herbs such as Fennel or Ginger.

Bitters

These have a powerful cooling effect and are very bitter to taste. The chemical compounds within the herbs stimulate the taste receptors in the mouth, this signals nerves in the stomach to trigger the release of digestive enzymes which results in the stimulation of bile flow.

Bitter herbs are prescribed to regulate poor appetite and digestion, inflammatory problems such as gastritis, reflux, and heartburn. They also regulate blood sugar levels. Bitter herbs are also used as relaxants, stimulants, sedatives, immune-modulators, and anti-microbials. Well known examples are Dandelion, Milk thistle, Tumeric.

Flavonoids

These occur widely in nature and are responsible for imparting the beautiful yellows, oranges and red colours found in our numerous herbal medicines. An example is the deep burnt orange in Tumeric.

Flavonoids are known to strengthen blood vessels and reduce inflammation. They have a powerful antiviral and antibacterial effect. They are very potent antioxidants and are commonly found in plants with a high concentration of Vitamin C. Fruits such as Hawthorn, blueberries, elderberries and red grapes are excellent sources. They are also found in green tea.

Phenols

These are aromatic alcohols and the building block of many plant components. They have many therapeutic benefits; Antiseptic( example Salicylic acid), Anti-inflammatory, Liver protection, Cholesterol reduction and the reduction of blood pressure.

Phytosterols

These are steroid-like molecules found extensively in plant cell walls. These have been shown to inhibit the growth of tumours, stimulate immune function and regulate cholesterol levels. Most widely known and used sources of these are Ashwagandha and Guggulu. These are known to be safe and do not cause the unwanted side effects associated with synthetic steroids.

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Mucilage

A polysaccharide. It lines the mucous membranes of the digestive tract and protects it against irritation, acidity and inflammation. They also provide this soothing and cooling effect in the mucous membranes of the throat, lungs, kidneys, and urinary tubules, including almost all the mucous membrane within the body. Examples include Marshmallow and slippery Elm.

*Disclaimer; Our blogs are informative only, please consult your physician for medical purposes.

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