History and Origin
The herb Astragalus membranaceus is a perennial plant critical to Chinese traditional medicine also known as yellow leader. People use this supplement as a general tonic with positive roles in aging, immunity, and digestion.
Astragalus root extracts have been used in early Chinese medicine as the ultimate herb to balance the body’s qi. Balancing the body’s qi may be the ultimate goal of Chinese medicine and Astragalus root makes this possible. It has been noted to have ultimate healing powers that are beneficial in boosting the immune system, increasing energy levels and overall health and vitality.
During ancient times, the Astragalus plant was used throughout both China and in Asia as an herb that boosts health and as a tonic for nerve weakness. Many of the tribes living in Asia and Southeast Asia have a rather high regard for the Astragalus root extract and to this day use it as a tea, or as a poultice for wounds and burns and also for minor skin diseases.
In today’s more modern times, the Astragalus has been proven to contain flavonoids and antioxidants that are beneficial to promote health and wellness up to the cellular level. The Astragalus root is also helpful in boosting immune system function with special influence in the activity of killer T cells.
Astragalus root also has antiviral and antibacterial properties. The use of Astragalus for the treatment of cancer and AIDS is still being studied and no specific link has been found yet on the direct effect of Astragalus root on cancer treatments.
Astralagus root extract is also beneficial in the treatment of kidney problems like renal failure, diabetic neuropathy and also to ease the symptoms of acute renal hypertrophy. Many have also found that Astragalus root extract is a cure for certain digestive tract problems such as colitis, gastric upset and stomach pain.
Astragalus and Growth Hormones
The growth hormones play a critical role in human development and remain important across the entire lifespan. Released mainly by the pituitary gland, growth hormones circulate throughout the body, affecting many processes. People can increase their levels naturally by behavioral means or with herbs to enhance growth hormones.
Astragalus has earned a reputation for its deep healing effects on the immune system. Working wonders on countless health conditions including seasonal allergies, cold and flu, fatigue, inflammation, blood pressure and circulation, heart disease, liver toxicity, diabetes and cancer.
The potent influence of this herb has grown in popularity to such a degree that even pharmaceutical companies are using parts of the plant as base ingredients for new prescription drugs. Particularly interesting is astragalus’ ability to slow the aging process by promoting the health of telomeres, which help hold chromosomes together.
Astragalus and Life Force
Astragalus ranks as one of the most potent health tonics in the world. For over two thousand years it has been one of the most popular tonic herbs used in Asia and remains so. Astragalus is said to strengthen the primary energy of the body and to tonify the three burning spaces, or in other words, to strengthen all metabolic, respiratory and eliminative functions. As an energizer, Astragalus is famed for its strengthening effects on the outside of the body, in particular to the musculature. It is therefore beneficial in particular to younger adults who tend to be physically active and require abundant external energy. In China, Astragalus is sometimes considered superior to Ginseng as an energizer for younger people. Astragalus is used to strengthen the legs and arms and is commonly used by people who work outdoors, especially in the cold because of its strengthening and warming nature.
Ying and Wei are the two components of the essential energy. Wei Qi circulates in the subcutaneous tissues providing suppleness to the flesh and adaptive energy to the skin. This function is considered essential to life to Asian health practitioners. It is believed that this adaptive energy at the surface of the body is our first line of defense against the offensive forces of nature. It is the Wei Qi which provides the energy of the flesh to perspire, produce goose bumps or to shiver. The Wei Qi controls the opening and closing of the pores. If Wei Qi is deficient, exhausted or blocked, environmental forces such as heat, cold, dampness and wind (the so-called “vicious energies”) can easily penetrate through the flesh and injure the tissues lying below, including the blood and inner organs. If the Wei Qi is sufficient, strong and unblocked, the body’s resistance is formidable and one can easily adapt to difficult environmental conditions. By tonifying the Lungs, Astragalus helps the body generate an abundance of free flowing Wei Qi, therefore fortifying the defensive energy of the body. Consistent consumption of Astragalus is therefore used to protect the body and has traditionally been called “the Great Protector”.
Astragalus Benefits for Exercise
Astragalus has many effects on the cardiovascular system. It has the ability to reduce blood pressure, with one study finding a reduction in 17%. It also reduces hardening of the arteries, cholestrerol absorption and plaque build up – all of these factors increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. It is also possible that it improves cardiac contractions, generally strengthening your heart and its ability to pump.
It also has nitric oxide boosting properties, widening arteries and giving you that pump, as well as other benefits for skeletal muscle. It increases glucose uptake into the muscles, allowing longer and more efficient workouts, as well as reducing insulin insensitivity in peripheral muscles. In terms of fat mass, astragalus appears to work through the same mechanisms to upregulate adipocytes, allowing a faster metabolism and more utilisation of glucose and hence energy.
It contains over 126 different components, primarily flavonoids, saponins, and polysaccharides as the main bioactive components but also contains sucrose, amino acids, phenolic acids, astragalosides, beta-sitosterol and trace minerals, especially selenium.
It is believed fenugreek was brought into cultivation in the Near East. While Zohary and Hopf are uncertain which wild strain of the genus Trigonella gave rise to domesticated fenugreek, charred fenugreek seeds have been recovered from Tell Halal, Iraq, (carbon dated to 4000 BC) and Bronze Age levels of Lachish and desiccated seeds from the tomb of Tutankhamen. Cato the Elder lists fenugreek with clover and vetch as crops grown to feed cattle.
Fenugreek boosts growth hormone emission too. Korean researchers at Yeungnam University discovered the Growth Hormone Stimulatory effect of Fenugreek when they screened a methanol-based extract of fenugreek using cells from the pituitary gland of rats. The pituitary is a gland in the brain, which, apart from secreting testosterone-stimulating hormones, luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), also secretes growth hormone. The activity of the pituitary increases if the hypothalamus – another gland in the brain – synthesises more Luteinizing-hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) and more Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GHRH).
An article appearing in the December 2010 issue of the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” evaluated the effects of two enzymes present in fenugreek, aromatase and 5α-reductase, which modify cholesterol in the production of testosterone. The researchers evaluated the effects of these enzymes on strength, body composition and hormonal profiles in 30 resistance-trained men. The participants were supplemented with either a placebo or 500 mg of fenugreek extract once a day for eight weeks. Researchers monitored the participants’ maximum bench and leg press and muscle endurance during an exercise regime conducted four days per week over the two month period. The study found that fenugreek significantly improved performance in the weight-lifting portions of the study, reduced body fat and increased testosterone levels in the men.
The effects of fenugreek on muscle strength, body composition, power output and hormonal profiles were evaluated in a study that was published in the October 2010 edition of the “Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.” The researchers recruited 49 resistance-trained men and supplemented them with either 500 mg of fenugreek extract or a placebo for eight weeks. During this time, they participated in a four-day-per-week training program composed of two upper- and two lower-extremity workouts per week. The study determined that the group supplemented with fenugreek experienced significant reductions in body fat and improved performance in the leg and bench press. The researchers concluded that fenugreek had significant effects on body composition and strength compared to the placebo.
Arginine, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, coumarin, diosgenin, fiber, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), kaempferol, luteolin, magnesium, manganese, niacin, potassium, pyridoxine, quercetin, riboflavin, rutin, sulfur, thiamine, trigonelline, tryptophan, vitexin, vitamin C, zinc.
Also please see – http://ancientbotanicals.com/fenugreek-boosts-growth-hormone-emissions/
Medicinal Mushroom Red Reishi
Reishi mushrooms (ganoderma lucidum) have a history dating back over 4000 years when they were considered to be a ‘superior herb that improved health, resistance, longevity, energy and memory. Asian rulers would sent out envoys to seek out old plum and maple trees. Only two or three out of 10,000 such aged trees have Reishi growing on them, and therefore its wild form is generally rare. The Japanese gave it the name Reishi or Mannetake meaning ‘10,000 year mushroom’ and in China and Korea it is known as Ling Chu or Ling Zhi, the ‘mushrooms of immortality’ and ‘the resurrection plant’. Many cultures embraced Rieshi’s benefits; the Romans considered mushrooms to be ‘the food of the Gods’, the Egyptians believed them to be ‘a gift from Osiris’ and the Chinese thought of them as ‘the elixir of life’.
The benefits of Reishi mushrooms have been recorded throughout time, appearing in written documents as far back as the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.). In these documents Reishi was associated with happiness, a good future, good health, longevity and living among the immortals. Reishi was so entrenched as a panacea in ancient Chinese culture that it is the focus of a Chinese fairy tale, “The White Snake.” In this fairy tale the heroine, in an attempt to save her lover’s life, tries to steal a Reishi plant from the Gods.
Health benefits of Reishi
Perhaps Reishi’s greatest potential medical benefit is its ability to strengthen the body’s immune system. Consumption of Reishi is therefore considered preventive and immune enhancing, rather than treatment of a specific disease. In addition to triterpenes in its fruiting body, Reishi mushroom also contains polysaccharides. These enzymes are found under the spores released under the cap of the mushroom. Reishi polysaccharides affect blood by increasing the white blood cells count (WBC), which boosts the immune system’s ability to fight disease.
Reishi is gaining credence as a potential example of what the Royal Medical Society has termed an “adaptogen”- a treatment concept that it said to help the body adapt to stresses of various kinds; these stressors may be temperature, trauma, sleep deprivation, exposure to toxins, radiation, infection, or psychological stress. Like adaptogens, Reishi shares the properties of causing no side effects with regular consumption; it helps an organism return to a normal and balanced state. Red Reishi acts as an immune modulator – a substance that regulates, and fine-tunes the immune system. The primary responsibility of the immune system is to detect pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and other microbes that invade the body. Under normal circumstances, an intact immune system is capable of deterring most of these organisms before it causes any damage. However, if the immune system is compromised, viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi can proliferate and cause disease. Antibiotics, anti-viral agents, and anti-fungal medications are the mainstay of current therapy. Even though they can be effective, every treatment carries a potential side effect. In addition, repeated use of these medications can cause microbes to mutate and develop resistance. Consuming Reishi eliminates these problems.
Reishi is also gaining acceptance for its use as an adjunct to combating the unpleasant side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy for cancer treatment. Reishi has also demonstrated exceptional anti-stress properties that help improve memory, ease tension, and sharpen concentration. Its potency is particularly noteworthy in the treatment of degenerative diseases that affect primarily the elderly, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Reishi mushrooms attack and reverse immunosenescence (Immunosenescence refers to the gradual deterioration of the immune system brought on by natural age advancement) through the combined effects of three compounds: first, a group of long-chain carbohydrates called polysaccharides, second, a unique protein named LZ-8 and third, a small group of steroid-like molecules called triterpenes.
Together, these three Reishi components achieve the dual goals of promoting healthy immune responses against viral, bacterial, or fungal infections, while suppressing excessive or chronic inflammation that threatens long-term health.
A hearty and abundant medicine with much promise. Constituents include an array of alkaloids, triterpine acids, ergosterols, fumaric acid, coumarins, lactone, mannitol, and many polysaccharides.
Ginkgo biloba is the world’s oldest living plant, and is known as a “living fossil” because it has no close living relatives, and appears to be the same as a plant species dating back 270 million years (Permian Period) in the fossil record. It is also one of a rare few (6%) dioecious flowering plants, meaning it has distinct male and female organisms.
The earliest record of the use of the leaves as a medicine is said to be mentioned in the Chinese Materia Medica Shen Nung Pen Tsao Ching (which should originate from about 2800 BC or from the Han dynasty [206BC-220AD]) as an aid for blood circulation and the lungs. This record cannot be confirmed however because the original of this work has never been found. Dian Nan Ben Cao (Lan Mao – 1436) mentions the use of the leaves for skin treatment, head sores and freckles. They are also used for chilblains and as a wound plaster. The internal use is first mentioned in the Ben Cao Pin Hui Jing Yao (1505) by Liu Wen-Tai as used against diarrhea.
In 1932 the Japanese Furukawa isolated the ginkgolides for the first time, which were further investigated for their chemical structure by Nakanishi in 1966. In the late 1950s western medicine began to study its medicinal uses. Dr. Willmar Schwabe Company produced the first extract from the leaves in 1965. Dr. Elias J. Corey of Harvard University received the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1990 for among others the total synthesis of Ginkgolide B in 1988. Nowadays, Ginkgo is prescribed in Europe and used by many people in the U.S., Canada and other countries for its medicinal abilities. After the 1970s palaeontologists, botanists, biochemists, cultural and theological historians began to investigate the Ginkgo more intensively too.
Ginkgo is a proven longevity supplement
Research has shown that as we age, mitochondria become less efficient at producing energy and more efficient at generating damaging free radicals. This vicious cycle is now believed to be a major contributor to the aging process, and not surprisingly, also to memory loss.
Recent research has also shown that Ginkgo biloba is remarkably effective at protecting mitochondria from damage. Even more impressive, Ginkgo has been shown to not only preserve mitochondria structure and function in aging animals, but to also significantly extend their lifespan.
Bilobalide is a main constituent of the terpenoids ** found in Ginkgo leaves. It also exists in minor amounts in the roots. It is a sesquiterpenoid, and has a 15-carbon skeleton. Bilobalide is proving to be a major contributor to Ginkgo’s ability to protect mitochondria from the effects of aging and damage, which is a proven strategy to extend lifespan.
Bilobalide is important for producing several of the effects of Gingko biloba extracts, and it has neuroprotective effects, as well as inducing the liver enzymes CYP3A1 and 1A2, which may be partially responsible for interactions between gingko and other herbal medicines or pharmaceutical drugs. Bilobalide has recently been found to be an antagonist at the GABAA and GABAA-rho receptors. Of GABAA, it may possibly be selective for the subunits predominantly implicated in cognitive and memory functioning by the GABRA1 gene (Gamma-aminobutyric acid receptor subunit alpha-1 is a protein that in humans is encoded).
**The terpenoids (/ˈtɜrpɨnɔɪd/ tur-pə-noyd), sometimes called isoprenoids, are a large and diverse class of naturally occurring organic chemicals similar to terpenes, derived from five-carbon isoprene units assembled and modified in thousands of ways. Most are multicyclic structures that differ from one another not only in functional groups but also in their basic carbon skeletons. These lipids can be found in all classes of living things, and are the largest group of natural products.
Plant terpenoids are used extensively for their aromatic qualities. They play a role in traditional herbal remedies and are under investigation for antibacterial, antineoplastic, and other pharmaceutical functions. Terpenoids contribute to the scent of eucalyptus, the flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, the yellow color in sunflowers, and the red color in tomatoes. Well-known terpenoids include citral, menthol, camphor, salvinorin A in the plant Salvia divinorum, the cannabinoids found in cannabis, ginkgolide and bilobalide found in Ginkgo biloba, and the curcuminoids found in turmeric and mustard seed.
The steroids and sterols in animals are biologically produced from terpenoid precursors. Sometimes terpenoids are added to proteins, e.g., to enhance their attachment to the cell membrane; this is known as isoprenylation.
Flavonoids, Terpenoids, Ginkgolide. Ginkgolides A, B, C, J, and M. Amino Acid-6hydrozykynurenic acid, Dimeric flavones (bilobetin, ginkgetin, isoginkgetin, scieadopitysin), Proanthocyanidins, ginkgolic acid, ascorbic acid, carotenoids, and Bilobalide. Essential oil, fatty acid, tannin, and resin.
Various forms of Ginseng have been used in medicine for more than 7000 years. Several species grow around the world, and though some are preferred for specific benefits, all are considered to have similar properties as an effective general rejuvenator.
Siberian Eleuthero is a distant relative of American and Asian Ginsengs (Panax sp.), with some overlap in its uses, but is a distinct plant with different active chemical components and does not contain ginsenosides, the active ingredients found in both Asian and American Ginseng. Eleuthero displays many properties common with true ginseng. Records of Chinese medicine describe the usage of Eleuthero for at least two thousand years for the purposes of increasing energy, longevity and vitality, improving general health, restoring weak memory, relieving stiffness and tension in the soft tissues and joints, as well as increasing resistance to respiratory infections.
Today Eleuthero is one of the most well researched adaptogens. Numerous experimental and clinical studies confirm its adaptogenic properties including ability to increase non-specific body resistance to stress, fatigue, disease, and harmful chemicals.
Clinical data supports the use of Eleuthero as a restorative tonic for enhancing mental and physical performance in cases of exhaustion and tiredness, weakness, and during recovery following an attack of disease, a surgical intervention or an injury. A review of clinical trials involving over 2,100 healthy individuals found that Eleuthero root improved resistance to adverse physical conditions such as heat, noise, increased work-load, and exercise. Eleuthero root also increased mental alertness and work output as well as improved both the quality of work performed under stressful conditions and athletic performance.
Eleuthero has been shown to normalize adrenal and thyroid function – the two critical self regulation mechanisms in our body. It also balanced blood pressure and blood sugar levels in both animal and experimental studies. While analyzing Eleuthero composition researchers have identified six compounds with antioxidant properties, four compounds exhibiting anticancer actions and two compounds producing immune-enhancing effects. Adding an Eleuthero preparation to blood samples from healthy donors resulted in 30-45% increase in phagocytosis – our body’s protective reaction involving capturing of waste material, harmful microorganisms and other foreign inclusions by white blood cells.
Another study demonstrated that a Eleuthero root exhibits strong antiviral activity. It inhibited the reproduction of human rhinovirus (one of the major causes of the common cold), human respiratory syncytial virus (cause of respiratory illness), and influenza A (flu) virus in infected cell cultures. Eleuthero has even been shown to improve short-term memory and overall mental performance in healthy individuals. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study done on middle-aged people found that Eleuthero significantly improved their selective memory, feelings of well-being, and activity levels.
Eleuthero’s anti-fatigue effect as well as its beneficial influence on endurance and the capacity to work (both mentally and physically) might be explained by its ability to increase the capability of the body’s cells to utilize phosphorus-containing energy molecules and to dispose of various byproducts of metabolism. Furthermore, Eleuthero has been shown to increase the resistance of rats to the toxic effects of harmful chemicals.
Siberian Eleuthero is known all over the world now as one of the best adaptogenic agents ever used by man. There just isn’t much else that can deliver so much wonderful raw working energy. It is truly the king of adaptogens.
Summary, Siberian Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosis) also known as Siberian Ginseng is more tonifying than the true Ginsengs (Panax sp.). It is neutral energetically and so is appropriate for daily use. Taken regularly, it enhances immune function, increases cortisone levels and anti-inflammatory response, and it promotes improved cognitive and physical performance in human studies. Also remember, unlike the Panax sp. it will lower high blood pressure, not raise it (unless it is already very low).
The major constituents are ciwujianoside A-E, eleutheroside B (syringin), eleutherosides A-M, friedelin, isofraxidin and acanthoside-D.
The Capsicum Pepper are ancient natives of the New World, the oldest known specimens coming from Mexico. From seeds found on the floors of caves that were ancient human dwellings and from ancient fossil feces, scientists have found the people were eating peppers as early as 7000 BC. Presumably originating as wild plants, hot peppers were cultivated between 5200 and 3400 BC, and are among the oldest cultivated plants of the world. In South America, peppers recovered at the archaeological site of Huaca Prieta have been dated at 2500 BC, these specimens being larger than the wild peppers and therefore presumably cultivated. Archaeological research in the Tehucan Valley revealed that among other crops, chilies were cultivated during the Coxcatlan era, around 4000 BC.
Cayenne has also been used medicinally for thousands of years. Capsicum being a stimulant not only rushes you with natural energy & alertness but it is also high in Vitamins A, C, B complex, calcium and potassium. One of the most important uses of Cayenne is as a circulatory stimulant, an herb that feeds the necessary elements into the cell structure of the arteries, veins, and capillaries.
Cayenne and Health
Cayenne is a medicinal and nutritional herb. Many herbalists believe Cayenne is the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom.
Cayenne helps the entire digestive system. It has been used for cramping pains and gas. It is great for constipation and helps with elimination. Cayenne can help rebuild the tissue in the stomach and the peristaltic action in the intestines. It aids assimilation, and helps the body to create hydrochloric acid, which is so necessary for good digestion and assimilation, especially of proteins. All this becomes very significant when we realize that the digestive system plays the most important role in mental, emotional and physical health, as it is through the digestive system that the brain, glands, muscles and every other part of the body are fed and cleansed. Chili peppers like cayenne have a bad–and undeserved–reputation for contributing to stomach ulcers. Not only do they not cause ulcers, these hot peppers may help prevent them by killing bacteria you may have ingested, while powerfully stimulating the cells lining the stomach to secrete protective buffering juices that prevent ulcer formation. The use of cayenne pepper is actually associated with a reduced risk of stomach ulcers.
Pain. Capsaicin is the active ingredient in Cayenne. Capsaicin dulls pain sensations by interrupting the chemical messages sent to pain-sensing nerves. Over-the-counter topical creams, such as Zostrix and Dolorac, contain capsaicin as an active ingredient. These applications are used to relieve pain caused by muscle spasms, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, shingles, diabetic neuropathy, and even phantom pain caused by amputation. Capsaicin cream is well established as a modestly helpful pain-relieving treatment for post-herpetic neuropathy (the pain that lingers after an attack of shingles) peripheral neuropathy (nerve pain that occurs most commonly as a side effect of diabetes, but may occur with HIV as well as other conditions), nerve pain after cancer surgery and arthritis pain.
Improved circulation. There is no other herb which increases your blood flow faster than cayenne. Cayenne moves blood. It is a circulatory tonic and helps improve circulation. It is thought that cayenne helps reduce cholesterol and triglycerides, thus promoting a healthy vascular system. Cayenne and other red chili peppers have been shown to reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and platelet aggregation, while increasing the body’s ability to dissolve fibrin, a substance integral to the formation of blood clots. Cultures where hot peppers like cayenne are used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism. Capsaicin is also a natural expectorant, and helps thin mucus, allowing you to expel it more easily. For this reason capsaicin is often included in home remedies for cough, and can be helpful when combined with other medicines as a treatment for pneumonia. If you suffer from cold feet, try cayenne.
Metabolism booster. More blood means more oxygen racing through your body. This means more energy! Lose Weight! All that heat you feel after eating hot chili peppers takes energy–and calories to produce. Even sweet red peppers have been found to contain substances that significantly increase thermogenesis (heat production) and oxygen consumption for more than 20 minutes after they are eaten. It is no wonder cayenne is included in many diet and weight loss products!
It makes other herbs work better! If someone asked, “What are the 10 most important herbs to have in the home?” We’d say, at the top of the list is cayenne pepper, because it will make the other 9 work better. Cayenne works as a catalyst to improve all the other herbs and nutrients you are taking in.
It is recommended that the cayenne powder be used, as opposed to capsules. It is believed that you are only getting a small part of the potential effect of cayenne pepper by taking it in capsules. When you put cayenne in your mouth, your stomach secretes digestive juices before the cayenne ever gets there. So when the cayenne gets down there, your stomach is ready for it.
1,8-cineole, 2-octanone, alanine, alpha-carotene, alpha-linoleic acid, alpha-phellandrene, arginine, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, betaine, campesterol, capsaicin, capsanthin, carvone, fiber, folacin, glutamic acid, hesperidin, isoleucine, isovaleric acid, kaempferol, manganese, myrcene, p-coumaric acid, potassium, proline, quercetin, scopoletin, solanine, thiamin, thujone, tryptophan, valine, zeaxanthin, zinc.