by Elisa Adams
the requisite oils and fluids is part of our accepted automobile care. Herbal
tonics have been used for millennia for similar reasons —
"an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The following are
some favorite tonic herbs, recommended by Douglas Schar, an herbalist practicing
heart tonic. Like rose hips,
the hawthorn berry is an exceptional source of rutin, a bioflavonoid which helps
reduce blood vessel plaque formation. Known for its role in lowering blood
pressure, easing angina, reducing ankle puffiness and shortness of breath, it
contains hyperin, an antioxidant which neutralizes free radicals. Left alone,
free radicals damage blood vessels and result in atherosclerosis.
The NSP hawthorn berry extract is delicious mixed in yogurt!
Licorice: the respiratory tonic.
Not just black anise-flavored candy, this tonic root
essential in Chinese medicine —
a potent source of glycerrhetic acid, glycyrrhizin, and other compounds shown to
reduce inflammation, fight infections, reduce asthma and other allergic
reactions and to support adrenal function. Recommended for pale children with
dark circles under their eyes, it reduces tendencies to coughs, colds, and
chronic bronchial conditions. It is a moisturizing herb and is not recommended
for adults with high blood pressure.
Exposure to a highly toxic mix of chemicals left a London chemist
battling a variety of chronic respiratory problems: hay fever, sinusitis,
allergies, and colds that wouldn’t quit. After three months of licorice
therapy, she realized that she was enjoying a cold-free winter and later, her
allergies were only a faint reminder of what they’d been the year before!
the immune tonic. A mushroom-producing fungus, maitake is one of the
oldest life forms on planet Earth. Found in North America, Europe, and Japan,
its ability to inhibit cancer was confirmed in the early 1980’s. Elevating
white blood cell levels and strengthening immune boosters like interferon and
interleukin, it also directly inhibits viruses like herpes.
Schar, author of Thirty
Plants That Can Save Your Life, is currently doing AIDS research with
Maitake. Patients are experiencing a rise in T-cell count and a lessening in the
symptoms associated with the HIV (virus), such as night sweats, weight loss, and
diarrhea. Many of his subjects have successfully gained weight and returned to
the liver and skin tonic.
For skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, and acne, Oregon grape provides a way
of avoiding steroid creams and antibiotics by addressing the underlying problem
rather than treating the symptoms. O.G.
contains berbamine, an antihistamine that stimulates immune and liver function,
and berberine, an anti-inflammatory compound useful in treating dandruff and
ulcers. Many chronic skin disorders are
autoimmune, an area where O.G. shines.
many women, skin conditions are often accompanied by gallstones. Schar
discovered that while skin problems were alleviated, difficulties with digesting
fatty foods and chronic constipation also disappeared in a year with Oregon grape!
Palmetto: the prostate tonic.
Part of the “male menopause” syndrome is enlargement of the prostate
gland, caused by an enzyme that converts muscle-building testosterone into
dihydrotestosterone, a nasty little hormone. Saw palmetto blocks this
conversion, protecting the prostate, libido, potency and muscle mass, and
helping men stay active longer!
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