Thursday, 31 July 2008

Horny goat weed

The herb Horny goat weed or Epimedium caught my eye today. Forget Viagra this apparently has the same affect. The herb originates from Eastern Asia.

Apart from the root the whole plant is used. The aerial part of the herb is gathered in spring and autumn, dried in the sun and cut into pieces.

This herb stimulates the parts in the sexual organs, giving stronger genital feelings. It also proven to increase sperm production and subsequently give better fertility. It goes further into stimulating the central nervous system with increased sexual desire resulting. Your vitality is also increased alongside all these other benefits

Appropriately names 'Horny Goat Weed' is a traditional natural medicine used in China and Japan. This herb, also know as Yin Yang Huo, Inyokaku and Herba Epimedii, has a history of traditional use for disorders of the kidneys, joints, liver, back and knees. Even with all these benefits, the principle use is as an aphrodisiac.

There is a exporter of the raw herb from Southern China specialising in this particular herb. It gives further information about it's benefits, not talking too technical though. You might want to have a read.

http://www.epimedium-horny-goat-weed.com/

There are also sites that sell the herb in pill form with the same format and claimed affects as Viagra without side affects. Sales talk or fact? I suppose you'd have to try it yourself to find out!


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Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Passion Flower

The passion flower has a great fascination, it is a flower that many recognise but fail to realise it is a herb. It is a creeping vine native to the southern tropical and subtropical United States, Mexico, central and South America but now thrives in many other parts of the world due to cultivation.

The word 'Passion' doesn't refer to love, but to the passion of Christ on the cross associated in the 15th and 16th century Christian theology.

The native Americans used it as a medicine to sedate and treat insomnia. Its used extensively in America in the late 1800's and early 1900's, and from there spread world-wide. Nowadays the the passion flower is still used as a sedative, sleep aid and treatment for anxiety and nervousness.

It is the first herb that herbalists will prescribe for insomnia, it encourages restful sleep without any of the problems associated with other chemical bound, man-made sedatives. No hangover with the passion flower herb remedy. The fresh or dried leaves are used to make an infusion, a tea for this remedy. A simple recipe for this is given below.

The painkilling properties of the passion flower are now well know and good for neuralgia and shingles conditions. The leaves and the roots of some species contain more and have been used to enhance the effects of mind-altering drugs. If the leaves are dried, they also can also be smoked.

Anxiety related symptoms are often treated with the passion flower as well as as irritable bowel, breathlessness or palpitations. It is well known as an anti-depressant where it gently elevates levels of nerve activity in the brain giving a more balancing mood.

So, the passion flower is not just a pretty face.

You can buy dried passion flower from many online dealers, this site recetnly added it to their stocks.

http://www.spiceworld.uk.com/


And Finally a tea Recipe to help you sleep at night.

Passion Flower Tea Recipe

Ingredients

1 tbsp. dried passion flower
1 cup boiling water

Method

Stir the herb into the cup of boiling water and leave 10 minutes
drink just before at bedtime.

You will find this aromatic and full of flavour.





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Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Use of Dried Herbs

Wherever you are in the world, fresh herbs cannot be grown fresh locally unless they are imported. Provisions for this are made by using dried herbs, never really as good as the fresh but still makes a major difference in the taste factor in foods. Added to this they still retain many of the compounds that benefit our health and body.

Using dried herbs is common with many home keeping supplies in their larders, in fact many don't even use fresh even when in season. Dried herbs are freely available at most food shops and at every supermarket so access to dried herbs is never a problem. The recipes that require fresh herbs nearly always have an option to include dried herbs therefore can be made the whole year round.

Being dried, herbs loose all of the liquid content and they become more concentrated than the fresh produce. With this you need to use less to create the same power of flavour.

There is a rule of thumb that says the conversion rates recommended is quite simply to substitute one teaspoons of dried for every tablespoon of fresh herbs.

Most recipes can cater for dried herbs as a substitute but there are other than can't especially if the herb is the major ingredient to the recipe, i.e. pesto.

In some cases dried herbs are actually better than fresh, When I make my own bread I have experimented with both and the dried herbs wins hands down. So they do have their benefits.

In stews and sauces dried herbs are used often with bay leaves being used extensively and more effectively dried and also ground up in Asian dishes

Salads aren't as successful with dried herbs but a salad dressing can be quite effective adding the herb element in a disguised fashion.

The dried herb production is essential for all year access to herb based recipes and it is the most practical thing to do with the surplus herbs during their cropping season. Don't feel it is cheating using dried herbs, it's not, it is just using natures way off preserving, no chemicals involved don't forget!

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Sunday, 27 July 2008

Storing Herbs Effectively

The way you store herbs is important for them to stay fresh and retain their flavours. Heat, light and age are the three enemies of herbs and. With this it is best not to store them in glass jars on a display in the kitchen.

Consider dedicating a small cupboard or drawer to them instead, keeping them as cool and dark as possible. The best advice is to store all herbs by transferring them to airtight containers once opened. Just using a paper clip of some other fastener on the original packet just doesn't work.

There is a case to said that it is best to replace your herbs every six months. This isn't entirely true as herbs have a have wide range of 'best before dates, and the time stored varies greatly from herb to herb.

What also has a big affect on the life span of storing herbs is the way is is stored. For example rosemary stored in a half filled container probably has a shorter shelf life than lavender in an unopened packet. I would go as far as to suggest that one year is the maximum for most herbs which is quite convenient as each year a new crop is grown.

Even after a year when green herbs lose some of their scent and colourŠ» it doesn't make them bad but just affects thei strength and power, they can still be used. It is aways practical to keep a note of the use by date when transferring herbs into other containers. If you stick a label on and write this in pencil it can always be rubbed out and rewritten for the next batch.

It is not a good idea just to top up old herbs with new and a good idea to give them a good wash and clean then dry out the container completely before refilling with a fresh herbs.

Buying in bulk is never a good idea unless you are in the catering trade. Many people are urged to do this from the point of bigger is cheaper but it is a false economy. Most of the herbs you will buy in bulk with just go beyond the best before date and either just fill space in your larder or get thrown away. so avoid waste and buy in small amounts is the best policy.


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Saturday, 26 July 2008

Grow Parsley - Use All Year Round

Parsley is one of the most used herbs in the garden but it is not always that easy to grow. I have tried growing it from seed many times but not very successful all the time.

It wasn't until I started looking up what you need to do to become more successful that I realised what I was doing wrong.

So my learning curve now brings in a bountiful of parsley throughout the year, freezing the crop to use i the winter. I now am never without probably one of the most popular herbs.

Parsley grows well in pots or in the ground. It take quite a while to germinate and you can get a good healthy and succulent crop by using a humus rich, moist and well fertilized soil.

Half sun and half shade is the best growing position, before I had always put it in a shaded part of the garden.

There are two main varieties the 'flat leaf' or 'curly leaf'. The flat leaf parsley is my favourite is sometimes also known as Continental parsley which in my opinion has more flavour.

You need to keep parsley well watered, never let it dry out but at the same time don't over water.

Another benefit I didn't know about was that you don't need to plant seeds every year as parsley is self-seeding. Just leave it once it has died down and next season you will have a fresh crop on its way up from the seeds drops naturally form the season before.

To use parsley all year round you need to freeze parsley. Just liquidise the leaves and stalks with a little water and put into an ice-cube tray. When frozen transfer the cubes of parsley into a plastic freezer bag. there yo have it parsley whenever you want it.

Growing and maintaining parsley is very easy, it is still a mystery to me why people buy this from shops when, even in a window box, fresh parsley can be grown in every home.


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Friday, 25 July 2008

Garlic - The Magic Herb

Easy to Grow and Cheap to Buy

Garlic has to be one of my favourite herbs, not just because it is easy to grow and I do, but for the many benefits it has. It is a relatively cheap food to buy, perhaps will become increasing expensive as a health food in time to come.

A Little History

The therapeutic qualities of garlic are nothing new. 6000 years ago garlic remedies were in use in India. In China the garlic herb medicine was certainly recognised as therapeutic some 3000 years ago and more recently in the 19th Century, the scientist who discovered penicillin namely, Louis Pasteur, knew of the properties garlic had for an anti-bacterial defence.

Into the 20th Century and the practice of pressed garlic to produce liquid very effective for solders wounds from turning sceptic.

It is a fact that our health can benefit from garlic but why?

To explain this you have to look at the unpleasant taste and smell that garlic gives off. this is in fact a sulphur compound called allicin and is released when the garlic is crushed or sliced. It is this that is responsible for its therapeutic qualities.

How can it help your health?

Strokes or heart disease is an increasing problem the symptoms of these are high cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Garlic is a saviour for these and lowers both the cholesterol and blood pressure levels and the symptoms of stroke and heart diseases are reduced. It is now a scientifically proven fact that garlic has the ability to do this.

In tests there was a 12 percent reduction in cholesterol levels from people who were put through a garlic based diet over a four week period. In other word, in less than a month after a garlic based diet the chances of these people getting symptoms that cause heart attacks and strokes was reduced substantially.

Not only lower cholesterol levels are reported but also the benefits of prevention of blood clots and the regular intake of garlic tablets, showed that high blood pressure and hypertension was cut by and average of 3 percent.

Putting all these factors together the benefit of a diet inclusive of garlic would effectively reduce the chances of you having a stroke by around 35 percent and heart disease by around 23 percent. these figures are quite unprecedented.

If you add the body infection defences it provides you now have a herb that has properties for health you would normally only dream of.

You don't need to be Ill

That's right, you don't need to be ill to get the benefit of garlic and it's dream properties, as the saying goes, prevention is always better than a cure.

Bad Beath?

Lastly, accounted for in history, dictates the healthy benefits of garlic and yet many are still shy of the herb from the point of it being anti-social in view of the garlic breath syndrome. There three ways to avoid this, one, eat parsley after your garlic fix, two, there are many garlic based products that do not leave you breath smelling, you can use this option. The third isn't really worth considering, that is not to eat garlic, to me that is never going to be an option.


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Thursday, 24 July 2008

Headache Remedy - Wood Betony

Headaches, who needs them and what do you do if you have one? Take an aspirin, lie down or just put up with it? there are many options you have to try and get rid of it but many don't go for the natural way.

Wood Betony is a herb that in many herbalists opinion a great remedy for headaches. Wood Betony works on your nervous system to tone and strengthen it yet helps you a relax. In addition it cures pain and has other healing properties.

The many properties of Wood Betony is often overlooked. An energy is given off within this plant that is a perfect remedy for people who feel isolated or cut off from the world or themselves, it reconnects them.

The herb is used for head and brain injuries and therefore has an important part in effective treatment. It not only increases nervous strength and circulation but in the brain itself.

History shows that it was used, like St. John's Wort, to rid people of 'Evil Spirits". This gives us big clues about the properties of this herb plant whose leaves touch the earth with their blossoming in spring.

An more in depth look at Wood Betony can be found at www.mothernature.com



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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Herbs and Feet

Herbs and feet, there doesn't seem to be a link there but there is.

Feet are something that we overlook (forgive the pun). The only time we really think about them is if they are giving you some problems or pain. The advice here is take more care of your feet there is much more to your feet other than walking and kicking. They have properties that affect your health and need care and attention.

After a hard day at work you should try and take time out to tend to those over worked feet. Lye down and raise your feet so that they are slightly higher than you head level. Lying on a sofa with your feet on the armrest is a good example.

After this give them a massage with some body or hand cream, this will relieve stiffness and using these creams is just as good as specialist creams but cheaper.

Herbal foot baths are an excellent way of revitalising your feet. They are a cheap way of relaxing and getting rid of that tired feeling. This also has therapeutic benefits for catarrh, colds, headaches, neuralgia and toothache. Good eh! Now are you beginning to see the link between feet and herbs?

The good thing about a herb foot bath is that is it as refreshing as taking a bath but look at the time, water and energy you save by doing so and you can write blogs whilst you feet are in there.

There is a home made herbal foot bath recipe you can make which is very popular to those who know about it. More will know about it now of course.

Fresh Rosemary, Mint or Lavender Foot Bath

You can use any one of these herbs or any mixture, the soothing affect and relaxation achieved from it will be remembered for a long time. Fresh herbs are prefered but dried can be used as a substitute.

For every two litres of boiled water use a handful of fresh herbs or a table spoon of the dried herbs. Leave in the water for at least 10-15 minutes. Then strain into your foot bath or bowl. 20 minutes of soaking your feet should be enough time to get the full benefit.

Use a soft towel to dry your feet and rub in some talcum powder to finish the drying process.
The used water can then be recycled to water your pot plants or used in the garden.


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Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto extract has now been tested and the benefits are quite astounding.

Originally, in North America it was used as a crude extract for at least 200 years for various conditions including asthenia and the recovery from other major illnesses.

This is an important herb for men with prostate problems which is now clinically proven beyond doubt.

There are benefits from the whole herb including the improvement in urinary functions is a little slower with also improved side-benefits for respiratory health, improved muscle strength, and a general overall health. this is unique to the palmetto berry.

There are now Saw Palmetto products on the market used for restoring hair. These however aren't scientifically recognised as effective.

Capsules of freeze dried Saw Palmetto are now being produced and on sale. This way you can get the full range of benefits of this versatile herb.

Ginger, Cinnamon and Clove Tea

Ginger, Cinnamon and Clove Tea

Description:

Late winter and early spring is the best time for this drink. The tea relieves congestion from the lungs, relieves gas and soothes minor digestive disorders. The cloves are also an aphrodisiac.

Ingredients:

1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
stick of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2 cups boiling water
1/4 teaspoon honey

Directions:

Warm the teapot.
Put the ginger, cinnamon and cloves into the pot, and pour in the boiling water.
Wait for for 5-10 minutes.
Strain and allow to cool slightly, then add the honey and serve.

Enough for 2

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