Glossary for beginning and advanced herbalists from Acidophilus to Vitamins

Get out your reading glasses because this is a long page! Learn about how amino acids work with other agents such as herbs, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants to heal and protect the body. Find out how Coenzyme Q10 provides wide ranging benefits such as inhibiting tumor growth and improving immunity. Do you know that Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Complexes are extracted from grape seeds, white pine bark, and maritime pine bark? (OPC's are potent bioflavonoid antioxidants that destroy free radicals and help slow the body's aging process.) Read this glossary and you will find a lifetime of information.

Girl with book
Photo of girl with book -- courtesy of

This woman is taking a break from reading. I hope she doesn't fall asleep and roll off that log.

A -- from acidophilus to aspartame

Acidophilus culture complex, including lactobacillus bacterium, is essential to good digestion and intestinal health. These bacteria counteract harmful organisms and help maintain a healthy colon. Most quality yogurts contain active acidophilus culture (it should be printed somewhere on the packaging). Yogurt should be consumed on a regular basis and especially after taking antibiotics and other medications that kill off both good and harmful bacteria. Be sure to read the label - some yogurts contain so much sugar that you are better off without it.

Aconite is a homeopathic remedy for children’s earache. Aconite also helps the body deal with sudden fright or shock.

Agar is a fibrous thickener used in foods and cosmetics. It is derived from a type of sea algae.

Algae, especially the blue and green varieties, are also called phytoplankton. They are harvested from the oceans. Blue green algae are considered perfect super-foods and may help alleviate world hunger someday in the future. * Because some blue-green algae may be contaminated with toxins and heavy metals, do not give to children (and always purchase from a reliable dealer).

Algin is found in seaweed. It is useful in the treatment of obesity, asthma, and blood poisoning. Algin absorbs toxins from the digestive tract and keeps them from being absorbed into the body. Algin helps give a boost to the whole immune system.

Allantoin is an ingredient added to cosmetics and lotions. It is derived from the comfrey plant and is used as a skin protector and softener.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) are naturally occurring substances found in foods like apples, sugarcane, and sour milk. They dissolve the sticky lipids that hold cells together and can penetrate deep into the skin to loosen clingy bonds (and clogged pores). As the top layers of skin are loosened and released, the complexion becomes smooth and soft. Alpha hydroxy acids make aging skin appear more youthful. Glycolic acid from sugarcane acts very quickly and very deeply, but can be irritating. Lactic acid from sour milk works slower and is a gentle alternative. Tartaric acid from grapes, malic acid from apples, and citric acid from lemons are all effective. The difference is in the ph. A lower ph (around 2.5) works quicker. A higher ph (between 3 and 4) has a moisturizing effect.

Alpha Tocopherol is an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals (harmful by-products of cell metabolism). Alpha Tocopherol is found in wheat germ, nuts, seeds, eggs, organ meats, oats, and olives. It helps prevent sterility, improves circulation, promotes longevity, helps prevent blood clots, prolongs the life of red blood cells, strengthens capillary walls, helps the body to utilize vitamin A, contributes to healthy skin, makes hair shiny, and helps maintain the integrity of cell membranes.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are essential to life, growth, and healing. The body produces a lot of the amino acids that it needs. The other 20% must be obtained from food on a regular basis.

Amino acids work with other agents such as herbs, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants to heal and protect the body. A diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean meats, dairy, cold-pressed oils, and fruits will provide plenty of amino acids. Amino acids can be used to target specific problems. Free form amino acid supplements are available but should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. The names of amino acids are often preceded by the letters D, S, or DL such as D-Glucose or L-Carnitine.

Anti-carcinogenic herbs and foods can stop or delay tumor formation and development. Some of the most useful include ginseng, garlic, echinacea, goldenseal, yellowroot, licorice, black cohosh, wild yam, sarsaparilla, turmeric, maitake mushroom, blueberries, beans, broccoli, other colorful vegetables, and quality soy products.

Antioxidants are especially important in cases of premature aging, immune deficiency, and severe allergies. Antioxidants are also useful to anyone that is exposed to air pollution like smog or fumes. Evidence shows that people live longer and have a healthier life if they include lots of antioxidants in their daily diet.

Antioxidants fight free radicals. Although oxygen is essential, too much or too little creates toxins known as free radicals. Theses highly reactive substances can damage cell structure and alter DNA. An excess of free radicals can lead to heart attack, cancer, and diseases like HIV, candidiasis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. How do antioxidants help? They attach and unite with oxygen, protecting the cells and enzymes from being destroyed or altered by oxidation. Antioxidants are selective, only acting against undesirable oxygen reactions. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals, neutralize their damage, and render them harmless. A poor diet, inadequate exercise, illness, and stress quickly use up the body’s antioxidants.

A diet with lots of amino acids provides plenty of essential antioxidants. Good sources include broccoli, grapefruit, kale, kiwi, potatoes, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

Bran, brewer’s yeast, cabbage, celery, corn, cucumbers, garlic, mushrooms, onions, wheat germ, seafood, and whole grains provide selenium, a good antioxidant that protects against heavy metal poisoning and pollution.

Foods known for containing vitamin E also have lots of antioxidants (such as almonds, walnuts, apricots, safflower, and plain peanut butter). The same goes for foods high in vitamin A (such as sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, and sea vegetables).

The cancer fighting potential of vitamin A, C, E, and the trace mineral selenium is enhanced when all are taken together in one meal.

Other promising antioxidants include Pycnogenol (derived from pine bark and many times stronger than vitamin E), Astragalus (an herb that enhances adrenal function), Methionine (helps keep fats from accumulating in the liver), Cysteine (helps the body’s iron uptake and protects against cancer), L-Glutathione (cleanses the blood and liver), Octacosanol (a wheat germ derivative that counteracts fatigue), GLA (from Evening Primrose (regulates hormones), shiitake mushrooms (stimulates immunity), and tyrosine (a source of energy for brain functions).

Arginine is an amino acid that stimulates the pituitary gland and liver. It helps increase muscle tone while decreasing body fat. Arginine promotes wound healing, blocks the formation of tumors, helps lower blood serum fat, curbs the appetite, and aids in metabolizing fats for weight loss. Herpes (and schizophrenia) occurrences may be reduced by starving the body of Arginine. Food sources include nuts, peanut butter, and cheese.

Arrowroot powder is made from the Cassava plant and is used as a thickener for sauces. It is a good substitute for cornstarch and works without the digestive problems and vitamin loss that cornstarch can cause.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener. Aspartame may cause high blood pressure, headache, insomnia, retina deterioration, ovarian cancer, brain tumors, dizziness, seizures, nervous problems, severe allergic reactions such as swelling of the throat, and death.

Aspartame, which many doctors and herbalists consider a poison, is an ingredient in diet soft drinks, sugar free gum, breath mints, cereals, cocoa mixes, frozen desserts, juices, laxatives, chewable vitamins, flavored milks, instant coffees, wine coolers, yogurt, and other treats. It is even provided as a table condiment along beside sugar! Only time will tell if Aspartame will become a toxic nightmare. (According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Aspartame is safe for human consumption.)

B -- from baron to bromelain

Baron is a mineral which enhances the metabolism of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin D for good bone formation. Baron stimulates estrogen production to protect against osteoporosis. Food sources include most vegetables, fruits, raisons, and nuts.

Bee pollen is a granular substance made by bees and contains rejuvenating properties. It is a healing mixture of bee secretions and flower pollen. Bee pollen is known as a super food and strong blood tonic. It is a blend of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, enzymes, and essential amino acids. Bee pollen is especially beneficial for athletes and anyone recuperating from an illness.

Bee pollen can help relieve allergies and respiratory problems. It is good for treating premature aging, bronchitis, colds, chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, menstrual complaints, and prostate problems.

Bee propolis is collected by bees from under the bark of trees. Bee propolis is naturally antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal. When taken internally as a food supplement, bee propolis stimulates the thymus gland, boosts immunity, and is very effective when treating pneumonia.

Bee propolis is rich in bioflavonoids and amino acids. It is a good source of trace minerals including copper, iron, and zinc. It is high in vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, and Beta-Carotene. Bee propolis is useful when treating broken bones, intestinal ulcers, gum disease, high blood pressure, skin cancer (melanoma), warts, herpes, and other sores. Chewable lozenges are available for mouth and throat problems. Bees produce many healthy supplements including bee pollen, bee propolis, royal jelly, and of course, deliciously sweet and nutritious, honey.

Beta Carotene is a powerful anti-oxidant that boosts immunity, protects against pollution, slows the aging process, and is good for fighting allergies. Beta Carotene is found in many fruits and vegetables. Get lots of Beta Carotene into the diet by eating orange vegetable such as carrots, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes. Other foods high in Beta Carotene include mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens, basil, and oregano.

Bioflavonoids prevent arteries from hardening, lower cholesterol, and enhance blood vessel strength. Bioflavonoids also strengthen connective tissue, ease bruising, and help control internal bleeding. Bioflavonoids stimulate bile production. They help reduce swelling, slow cataract formation, and guard against diabetic retinopathy.

Bioflavonoids are not produced by the body and must be obtained from food. Good sources include blueberries, cherries, turmeric, ginger, peppers, buckwheat, raw onions, alfalfa, white pith of citrus fruits, elderberries, and rosehips. Bioflavonoids are also known as vitamin P.

Biotin is a member of the vitamin B family. It is necessary for good hair growth and healthy skin. An increase in Biotin is recommended for anyone taking antibiotics. Good sources include poultry, raspberries, grapefruit, tomatoes, tuna, brewer’s yeast, salmon, eggs, organ meats, legumes, and nuts. Hair loss, dandruff, dermatitis, acne, and eczema, are symptoms of Biotin deficiency. See hair and scalp problems.

Bovine tracheal cartilage is used in the treatment of cancer, arthritis, rheumatism, skin allergies, and to speed the healing of wounds. BTC increases the ability of the white blood cells to destroy bacteria and viruses. It can be purchased as a dietary supplement.

Brewer’s yeast is an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. Brewer’s yeast supports the immune system and improves blood sugar metabolism. It reduces serum cholesterol and speeds healing thru an increase in collagen production. Brewer’s yeast has antioxidant properties, improves skin texture, and helps heal acne. It also makes a nourishing natural facial mask. Brewer’s yeast can be purchased at most health food stores.

Bromelain is an enzyme extracted from pineapples and is will known as a meat tenderizer. Bromelain aids in the digestion of protein, relieves painful cramps, and treats arthritis. Bromelain inhibits blood clotting without causing excess bleeding. It is used in sports medicine to reduce bruising, relieve pain, and stop swelling. Bromelain paste helps deactivate insect venom and is useful when treating bee stings. Fresh pineapples should be eaten before and after surgery to speed healing. (The bromelain enzymes are destroyed during the canning process.) Eating fresh pineapple is especially helpful before tooth extractions. Bromelain supplements may affect the heart rate and should not be used if heart disease is present.

C -- from caffeine to copper

Caffeine stimulates serotonin production in the brain. Caffeine also causes adrenaline to be released into the bloodstream, decreases drowsiness, and increases the capacity for intellectual tasks. Caffeine helps utilize fatty acids for energy production and increases endurance. It raises the body’s metabolic rate and is sometimes used in treating obesity.

Over indulgence in caffeine can cause headache, irritability, dehydration, digestive problems, ulcers, bladder infection, anxiety, high blood pressure, jumpiness, and heart palpitations. It can also be addictive and is known to disrupt brain wave patterns. Excessive amounts of caffeine can cause the liver to stop functioning properly, cause a decrease in absorption of B vitamins, and cause the adrenal glands to become exhausted. Too much caffeine is known to increase breast cancer risk, increase the development of uterine fibroids, and increase prostrate problems. Too much caffeine can result in central nervous system over-stimulation commonly known as the jitters. Caffeine overdose can lead to death. Caffeine is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive (brain altering) substance. Common sources are coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, and chocolate.

Calcium is the body’s most abundant mineral and every cell needs calcium to survive. Calcium is necessary for strong teeth and bones. It helps lower blood pressure, prevents muscle cramps, helps maintain a healthy nervous system, controls anxiety, relieves mild depression, and insures a good night’s sleep.

Calcium can help protect against colon cancer and osteoporosis. It can be found in many foods including green vegetables, dairy products, sea vegetables, tofu, molasses, almonds, beans, okra, broccoli, dandelion greens, and shellfish.

Chlorophyll absorbs light energy from the sun and is bright green in color. When we consume fresh greens, the chlorophyll cleans and nourishes the body’s cells and blood. The best dietary sources include blue-green algae, wheat grass, barley grass, parsley, and alfalfa. Chlorophyll molecules are a lot like blood molecules except instead of iron, chlorophyll molecules contain magnesium. Chlorophyll is easily digested and rich in vitamin K.

Chlorophyll is great for treating skin ulcers, kidney stones, heavy periods, anemia, deep infection, dental problems, nervous conditions, insomnia, colds, inner ear infections, bad breath, constipation, and exhaustion. Chlorophyll is also used to detoxify the organs and glands, especially the liver. Chlorophyll helps to remove drug deposits from the body, remove heavy metals, purify the blood, and counteract poisons.

Chromium is an essential trace mineral that the body needs for glucose tolerance and sugar regulation. Chromium helps sensitize the body to insulin. It helps build muscle, speeds wound healing, and decreases plaque accumulation in the arteries. A chromium deficiency leads to high cholesterol, heart trouble, diabetes, and premature aging. Chromium curbs the appetite as it raises the body’s metabolism. Good food sources include brewer’s yeast, clams, honey, whole grains, liver, corn oil, grapes, romaine lettuce, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and raisons. Most people receive enough chromium from their diet so supplements are rarely needed.

Coenzyme Q10 is essential for cellular energy. It provides wide ranging benefits such as inhibiting tumor growth and improving immunity. Coenzyme Q10 has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is produced by the body and can be supplemented with food sources like rice bran, wheat germ, beans, nuts, fish, and eggs. It is best taken along with vitamin E.

Coenzyme Q10 promotes natural weight loss, inhibits aging, and helps heal gum disease. It is effective in preventing and treating heart and arterial diseases. Applied topically, this coenzyme can help decrease the depth of wrinkles. By the time a person reaches fifty, natural occurring Coenzyme Q10 levels are half of what they are at age twenty. Coenzyme Q10 is available in drug stores and health food stores.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It is responsible for maintaining healthy vein walls, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, connective tissue, and skin. Collagen is dependant on nutrients from blood. Smoking, bad diet, and other factors can constrict blood vessels and cause everything from bad skin to weakened tendons.

Herbs that work to improve the circulatory system can help improve collagen strength. Try horsetail, ginkgo biloba, cayenne, and garlic for best results. Vitamin C and other flavonoids work to crosslink collagen fiber, resulting in stronger connective tissue.

Colloidal Silver is a pure metallic substance with antibiotic properties. It acts to stop harmful bacteria, virus, and fungus from gaining a foothold in the body. Colloidal Silver is toxic to many parasites. Harmful parasites and bacteria do not develop immunity to this dietary supplement (like they do with prescription antibiotics).

Copper is a mineral that aids in iron absorption, protein metabolism, bone formation, and blood clotting. It controls inflammatory arthritis, helps protect against free radical damage, and helps prevent hair from losing its color. Copper deficiencies can be caused by too much zinc in the diet or by consuming too much refined sugar. Copper deficiencies cause high cholesterol, anemia, heart arrhythmias, and nervous conditions. Excess copper can cause severe mental depression.

D -- from dairiy foods to DNA

Dairy foods include milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, butter, and many other products. Dairy can interfere with digestion by causing constipation and other stomach problems. Pasteurized milk is difficult to digest and may cause allergies and respiratory problems to worsen.

Men can handle dairy foods better than women. Many women’s problems such as fibrous growths, bladder problems, kidney infections, and anemia can be improved by avoiding dairy foods.

Dairy products can block iron absorption by as much as 60%. One exception is yogurt. Even though yogurt is made from milk, it has friendly bacteria culture that is good for the body.

Dairy foods produce mucus as they move through the digestive tract. Avoiding dairy can shrink tonsils, reduce infections, speed digestion, and improve immunity. A little dairy is usually fine. A lot is not.

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a mouthful. As a result, this 22 letter word is usually abbreviated to DHEA.

DHEA is the mother of hormones and is produced by the adrenal glands. It is also known as the youth hormone and is used by the body to manufacture other hormones including estrogen. DHEA lowers cholesterol, reverses aging symptoms, promotes energy, and raises libido. It is used in the treatment of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

DHEA is not safe for everyone. Taking DHEA supplements represses the body’s ability to make its own supply! Once someone starts taking DHEA, they have to take it the rest of their life. There are other negative side effects such as acne outbreaks, shrinking testicles, increased body hair, and unwanted facial hair.

Research shows that wild yams can help the body produce more of its own natural DHEA. Wild yam is often recommend to women for menstrual problems, PMS, and menopausal symptoms.

DL-Phenlalanine (or DLPA) is an amino acid that may help relieve lower back pain, depression, and arthritis. DLPA increases mental awareness and may improve the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. DLPA is not produced in the body so must be consumed through diet. Food sources include beef, poultry, pork, fish, milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, soy products (including soybean flour and tofu), nuts, and seeds. Avoid DLPA in cases of high blood pressure, diabetes, when nursing, or when pregnant.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is the substance in the cell nucleus that contains genetic code. It determines the type of life form into which an individual cell will develop. DNA is usually tightly packed into chromosome form (shaped like a twisted ladder). Then during cell division, DNA unwinds so it can be copied and transferred to new cells. DNA also unwinds so that its instructions can be used for other body functions. An organism's complete set of nuclear DNA is called its genome.

The National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, MD completed the human genome sequence in April 2003. Since that time, scientists around the world have had access to databases that speed up biomedical research by leaps and bounds.

Genetics and genomics technologies are currently changing the way that healthcare professionals diagnose and treat their patients. Researchers are learning how each gene works and what it does. They are studying the role that genes play in disease. Genetic researchers may soon be able to identify the causes of common illnesses such as asthma, arthritis and Alzheimer disease. The results of such studies are leading to many advances in disease prevention and treatment.

With science advancing at an unprecedented rate, the human race faces many issues including genetic testing, genetic discrimination, gene patenting, other ethical dilemmas (like cloning), social implications, policy guidelines, and legal questions.

E -- From electrolytes to essiac

Electrolytes are ionized salts in blood, body fluids, and cells that transport electrical energy through the body. They include salts of sodium, potassium, and chlorine that are essential to cell function and body pH balance.

Electrolytes are lost through perspiration and urination so regular replacement is necessary. When electrolytes become depleted, the body tires easily. Most athletes know to consume sports drinks such as Gatorade before, during, and after a strenuous work out.

Serious salt imbalances, like those that occur with dehydration, may lead to muscle cramps, heart problems, and even medical emergencies. When sodium levels dip too low, the kidneys start producing more urine, which restores balance by lowering the amount of water in the blood. When sodium levels get high, the body signals to the brain that it is thirsty.

Serious imbalances can be caused by kidney disease, excessive sweating, not drinking enough water, drinking too much water, excessive fluid loss (diarrhea or vomiting), and taking certain medicines (including diuretics).

Symptoms of an electrolyte imbalance include headache, fatigue, weakness, nausea, confusion, irregular heartbeat, muscle pain, irritability, weakness, tingling in the extremities, numbness, paralysis, and seizure. If balance is not restored, coma and death can occur.

Elimination sweats are practiced to remove poisons from the body. A surprising amount of toxic material can be eliminated via the skin by sweating. Herbs are often used to speed the detoxification process.

Before undertaking an elimination sweat, drink lots of hot tea including elderflower, peppermint, and yarrow. Prepare a bath with hot water. Add three pounds of Epsom salts. Soak for ten to twenty minutes. Emerge from bath, but don’t dry off. Wrap up in a clean sheet and go straight to bed. Cover up with several blankets.

The sheet will absorb most of the moisture from the bath (and sweat from the body). By morning, the sheet will be stained from toxins excreted by the skin. Repeat the elimination sweat every two weeks until sheet is no longer stained. Drink plenty of water and eat healthy foods throughout the process. Improvement in health and vitality should be noticeable after the first session.

Enfleurage is the time consuming process of making aromatherapy oils and perfumes from delicate flower petals including rose and jasmine. The process is used when steam distillation is considered too harsh. The technique involves gathering blossoms, placing the petals on glass trays lined with lard, and waiting. The old blossoms are removed every morning and replaced with new ones on a daily basis for four or five weeks!

After a month, the lard is scraped from the trays and mixed with alcohol. The alcohol is extracted and the resulting highly scented oil is called an “absolute”. Absolutes are more concentrated than essential oils. The low temperature of the enfleurage extraction process prevents damage to the fragrant compounds. Absolutes can be produced with aromas much finer than essential oils produced by steam distillation.

Escin is a plant compound found in the seeds of the horse chestnut tree. It is used externally to reduce swelling and increase circulation. Escin is a safe remedy for phlebitis, edema, and leg vein problems. Use in cream for best results.

Essential fatty acids are present in all of the body’s cell membranes. They are necessary for the human body to function, especially the circulatory system and brain. Deficiency causes attention deficit disorder, memory loss, autism, mental retardation, depression, anxiety, headache, violent behavior, and seizure. Other symptoms and conditions caused by fatty acid depletion include eczema, dermatitis, lupus, hair loss, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, loss of mental clarity, senility, irritable bowel syndrome, adult acne, teenage acne, and asthma.

Essential fatty acids should be consumed on a daily basis. Cold pressed olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil, sesame seed oil, and nut oils (liquid at room temperature) are readily available in most grocery stores and are packed full of essential fatty acids. Other food sources include salmon, sardines, red snapper, soy beans, flax seed, halibut, shrimp, tofu, scallops, and walnuts.

Because cell membranes are made up of fat, the integrity of cell membranes is determined by the type of fat we eat. Researchers believe that diets containing large amounts of saturated or hydrogenated fats (solid at room temperature) produce cell membranes that are hard and lack flexibility. Diets rich in unsaturated fats (like olive oil) produce cell membranes that are healthy and fluid. Fluid, flexible cells can transport nutrients and get rid of toxins much easier.

Fats are present throughout the body. Most all foods contain fats and oils. Animal fat contains more saturated fats. Vegetable fats contain more unsaturated fats. To reduce serum cholesterol, switch to unsaturated fats and eat more fiber! Also, excess salt inhibits the body’s ability to clear fat from the blood stream. Do not add extra salt at the table and avoid salty snacks.

Inexpensive vegetable oils may contain synthetic preservatives. Most are heavily refined, hydrogenated, bleached, and deodorized with chemical solvents before landing on the supermarket shelves. The healthiest oils are natural, unrefined, and mechanically pressed from plant material, then filtered, and bottled. These oils are fragile and become rancid quickly when exposed to air, heat, and sunlight. Cold pressed oils should be stored in a dark cabinet or pantry for longer shelf life. If purchased in quantity, consider transferring to smaller containers as oil is used up. This will help keep expensive oils from becoming rancid.

Coconut oil is a fat that is easily digested when eaten in moderation. It can be a lifesaver for premature babies because the body easily converts it to energy. Coconut oil, like mother’s milk, is antimicrobial (fights germs) and protects against parasites.

Avoid all hydrogenated fats. These fats are oils that have been turned into saturated fats (like margarine and shortening). Staying away from hydrogenated fats is not easy. This harmful fat is a major ingredient in everything from biscuits and pies to fast food and packaged items.

Essiac is an herbal tea formula once famous for curing cancer and other dreaded diseases. The blend was created by the Ojibway Indians and made famous by Rene Caisse. (The name Essiac is actually an anagram of her last name “Caisse”.) The formula included sheep sorrel, burdock root, rhubarb, and slippery elm bark.

F -- from folic acid to free radicals

Folic Acid is a vitamin that plays an important role in the production of DNA, enzymes, and blood cells. Folic acid is used in the treatment of alcoholism and also during chemotherapy to help build up the immune system. A deficiency of folic acid leads to many problems including Crohn’s disease.

Aluminum (which is in most baking powders), antacids, oral contraceptives, alcohol, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs increase the need for folic acid. Good dietary sources include leafy green vegetables, organ meats, peas, brewer’s yeast, broccoli, fruit, soy foods, chicken, brown rice, eggs, and whole grains.

Free radicals are unstable fragments of molecules produced from oxygen and fats in the cell membranes. Free radicals are very destructive to the body (like rust on metal). A free radical contains an unpaired electron. In this unbalanced condition, the free radical is stimulated to combine with other molecules, and is capable of destroying enzymes, proteins, and complete cells.

The destructive power of one free radical results in the creation of thousands more free radicals. Fat metabolism is compromised, protein structure is damaged, and the body ages prematurely.

The body produces some free radicals in normal day to day living. Some are needed to fight harmful bacteria and are released during immune responses. The body produces antioxidants to deactivate these free radicals once they have done their job.

Excess free radicals are caused by exposure to radiation, rancid oils, hydrogenated oils, food additives, heavy metals, pollution, and other toxic substances. The body needs extra antioxidants to fight these excess free radicals. Antioxidants should be consumed on a daily basis so that the body can rid itself of harmful molecules. Good sources of antioxidants include colorful vegetables and fruits.

Extra antioxidants should be added to the diet for many reasons including stress, sickness, trauma, injury, inflammation, exposure to excessive heat (and cold), when smoking, and when drinking excessive alcohol. Also add extra antioxidants to the diet when taking prescription drugs, over the counter drugs like Tylenol, and during periods of strenuous exercise.

Iron and copper (beneficial in small amounts) increase free radical production when taken in large amounts. Too much iron (iron overload) can even lead to death! Herbs such as garlic, rosemary, and ginseng are all rich in antioxidants. Also look for antioxidant rich nutritional supplements containing white pine bark extract and grape seed extract.

G - from germanium to guar gum

Germanium is an antioxidant mineral that helps fight cancer, helps detoxify the body, builds the immunity, increases cell oxygen uptake, and blocks free radical damage. Extra germanium is useful when treating the flu, bacterial infections, and fungus. Germanium has also been shown to help with osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease, abnormal blood pressure, leukemia, HIV, and respiratory conditions.

Dietary sources of germanium include garlic, tuna, oysters, green tea, mushrooms, aloe vera, ginseng, and leafy greens.

Ginkgo Biloba is another antioxidant and is used to slow the aging process. It is known to improve memory and circulation. Ginkgo Biloba reduces blood cell clumping and is useful in the treatment of congestive heart disease.

Glutamine is a non essential amino acid that helps boost brain function. It can help improve memory, concentration, and alertness. Glutamine helps mental ability in cases of mental retardation, senility, epileptic seizure, and schizophrenia. It also helps reduce alcohol and sugar cravings, protects against alcohol toxicity, and controls hypoglycemic reactions.

Glutathione is another non essential amino acid that is important to the body. It helps the immune system, controls insulin levels, heals inflammation, removes toxins, and fights free radicals (by turning them into stable molecules). Low levels of glutathione are associated with early death.

Glutathione works with glutamine to stabilize blood sugar levels. It works with vitamin E to breakdown fat and protein for energy. Glutathione also protects against stroke, kidney failure, and cataracts.

Glycerin is extracted from vegetables like the coconut. It is used in natural cosmetics as a moisturizer and smoothing agent. Glycerin attracts moisture and is used (in humid environments) to draw moisture to the skin. Do not use glycerin as a moisturizer in dry environments. When the air is dryer than the skin, glycerin will draw moisture out of the skin and put it into the atmosphere. This causes a dry, wrinkled appearance.

Glycine is another non essential amino acid. It releases growth hormones when taken in large doses. Glycine helps slow nerve and muscle degeneration and is used in the treatment of gout and muscular dystrophy. When it is taken early in the morning, it helps regulate blood sugar.

DMG, an element of Glycine once known as B15, is a powerful antioxidant and energy stimulant. It is used in the treatment of Down’s syndrome and mental retardation. DMG is also used in cases of alcohol craving, epileptic seizures, rheumatism, emphysema, and cirrhosis of the liver. Too much DMG can cause problems with metabolism that may lead to severe fatigue so use with caution and only under the direction of a healthcare professional.

Grape seed extract is a powerful OPC (Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin). As an antioxidant and bioflavonoid, this extract is fifty times more powerful than vitamin E and twenty times stronger than vitamin C.

Grape seed extract fights allergies and inflammation. It strengthens blood vessels, improves the circulation, and gives skin a healthy glow. Grape seed extract limits the oxidation of fats and reduces free radical formation. Grape seed extract fights heart disease and the growth of cancer cells. It is also used in the treatment of HIV, stubborn wounds, tooth decay, edema, menopausal symptoms, hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, diabetes complications, vision problems, swelling, and other ailments.

Grape seed extract contains a substance called procyanidin. Procyanidin was discovered in 1936 by Professor Jacques Masquelier, who named it vitamin P (although the name is no longer used). Procyanidin protects the body from premature aging by increasing vitamin C levels in the cells and helping the body to rid itself of toxic materials.

Grapefruit seed extract is a multi purpose natural antibiotic. It is used to treat bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Grapefruit seed extract is used in cases of yeast infection, vaginal infection, parasite infection, and dysentery. Grapefruit seed extract speeds healing, fights gingivitis, strep throat, sore throat, ringworm, ear infection, nail fungus, and dandruff. It is also used for wart removal and to cleanse fresh produce of pesticides.

Green drinks, chlorophyll, and super foods are available in powders, drink mixes, and capsules. From wheatgrass to seaweed, they are useful when treating cancerous growths (especially colon cancers), thyroid problems, arthritis, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, obesity, and liver diseases. Green drinks detoxify the body. They fight the effects of pollution, x-rays, other forms of radiation, and rancid foods. Super foods help the skin, the organs, and the tissues by providing concentrated nutrients and increasing the body’s uptake of oxygen.

Green drinks and foods include wheatgrass, seaweed, algae, aloe vera, chlorella, Spirulina, and other grasses. Chlorella is a complete protein food that contains a large amount of beta carotene. It detoxifies the colon, eliminates heavy metals, and strengthens the liver. Spirulina is harvested from the ocean. It contains proteins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, minerals, and B vitamins. Barley grass helps repair cell damage and delay aging. Barley grass also neutralizes heavy metals like mercury. It is often used in place of steroids when treating inflammation. Alfalfa pulls nutrients from the soil from as far as 100 feet deep. Alfalfa is used as a body cleanser and natural deodorant. It is rich in fiber and helps relieve water retention. It is used to treat bladder infection, colon disorders, anemia, hemorrhaging, diabetes, and to balance estrogen production.

Green grasses and super foods transform elements of soil, water, and sunlight into living cells! They contain all known minerals, vitamins, and enzymes needed for digestion.

Guar gum is an herbal product that provides dietary fiber. It dissolves in water and can absorb many toxic substances from the intestines. Guar gum is also used to lower cholesterol and to regulate blood sugar.

H - from hydrogen peroxide to histamine

Hydrogen peroxide (H202) is a clear, colorless liquid that contains hydrogen and oxygen. It is available in several grades one of which is used as rocket fuel. 3% to 6% solutions are available in drug stores. Most home grade strengths are considered safe but all hydrogen peroxide should be used with caution. Do not apply hydrogen peroxide to wounds as it deters healing. Solutions (as high as 35%) are available for therapeutic purposes. Commercial grades (used for bleaching paper pulp) may be as high as 95%!

Food grade (35%) hydrogen peroxide is sometimes used internally to treat asthma, emphysema, arthritis, thrush, yeast infections, cancerous growths, Epstein Barr virus, and HIV.

Safer applications (of 3% H2O2) include a soak for athlete’s foot, a douche for vaginal infections (use six tablespoons to a quart of warm water), an enema for detoxification (one tablespoon per quart of water), a mouthwash for dental problems, and a skin spray to replace the acid mantle.

Hydrogen peroxide baths are used to remove toxins from the body. Use one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a bath and soak for fifteen minutes. H202 should be used only if there is a specific need to do so.

* Hydrogen peroxide should be diluted with water. Never take hydrogen peroxide internally without the guidance of a healthcare professional. Do not use 35% hydrogen peroxide if you have ever had a heart or liver transplant (serious reactions could occur). Never take hydrogen peroxide internally if also consuming carrot juice, carbonated beverages, or alcohol. Take only on empty stomach one hour before or three hours after eating. If 35% hydrogen peroxide gets on the skin, immediately wash with cold running water for two minutes. Do not use without diluting with water! Use an eye dropper for measuring.

Taking hydrogen peroxide internally kills harmful and friendly bacteria. As dead parasites are removed by the body, the patient may feel slightly nauseous due to toxic materials being released through the skin, lungs, kidneys, and bowels. Uncomfortable reactions include headache, sleepiness, unusual fatigue, diarrhea, sinus drainage, ear infection, and boils. All uncomfortable symptoms should be of short duration and clear up quickly once detox is complete. If taking H202 internally, be sure to replace friendly bacteria (that have been killed off) by eating activated yogurt, fresh sauerkraut, and other fermented foods.

A 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide may be mixed with aloe vera juice and used on any sore or rash that might benefit from an antiseptic and anti-fungal lotion. Hydrogen peroxide is also used to bleach bones and shells for display purposes, treating blood stains on cloth, as a component in hair bleach, to treat root rot, as a cleanser in hospitals, and to help supply oxygen to small fish.

Diluted hydrogen peroxide is also useful as a foot soak (when treating athlete's foot), as an additive to sick animals' drinking water, as a vegetable spray (to remove toxic sprays and chemicals), and as a mold inhibitor when sprouting seeds.

Hesperidin is a flavonoid (antioxidant) present in orange and lemon peels. It increases capillary strength, reduces blood pressure, and lowers cholesterol levels. Hesperidin has anti-inflammatory effects and can help calm the nerves.

Histidine is an essential amino acid. It improves the immune system, defends against colds, protects the lungs from respiratory infections, and counters allergic reactions. Histidine is used in the production of white and red blood cells, aids in copper transport through the joints, and removes heavy metals from the tissues. It helps relieve arthritis, raises libido in both sexes, and is used to treat anemia. Histidine supplementation can cause rapid zinc excretion so use only under the care of a healthcare professional.

Histamine is derived from histidine. It is produced by white blood cells and increases their ability to fight infection. Once formed, histamine is stored for later use or is rapidly deactivated. It is used by the nerves, the brain, and most other parts of the body. Histimine helps regulate sleep and suppresses the harmful effects of stress. It is also responsible for allergic reactions like runny nose, watery eyes, itchy skin, and hives. Antihistamines stop histamine’s effectiveness by blocking receptors and should not be used on a regular basis without the guidance of a healthcare professional.

I -- from isopropyl alcohol to iodine

Isopropyl alcohol is a colorless, flammable liquid. It is made from petroleum and should never be taken internally. Ingestion of isopropyl alcohol or inhalation of the vapors may cause headache, nausea, vomiting, coma, and death. Isopropyl alcohol can be fatal if ingested even in small doses!

Isopropyl alcohol is used as a solvent and cleaning fluid. It is used to kill germs and remove smudges from electronic equipment like cell phones and DVD players. Isopropyl alcohol is also used to preserve biological specimens (instead of formaldehyde), as a muscle rub, and as a remedy for swimmer’s ear.

Iron is a mineral which combines with proteins and copper to produce hemoglobin in the blood. Iron deficiency results in fatigue, weakness, and anemia. Iron strengthens the immune system, helps heal wounds, and is very important during pregnancy (especially for women who have taken contraceptive drugs before becoming pregnant).

Iron helps keep hair shiny, eyes bright, and the body strong. Vitamin C rich foods (like tomatoes, peppers, and citrus) help the body to absorb iron from other foods. Good sources of iron in the diet include molasses, cherries, prunes, leafy greens, poultry, liver, legumes, peas, eggs, fish, and whole grains. Alfalfa, bilberry, burdock, catnip, yellow dock root, watercress, and nettles also contain significant amounts of this essential mineral.

Free, unbound iron can be toxic. Iron overload is linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and endocrine dysfunction. When iron overload is diagnosed, it is best to discontinue use of cast-iron cookware due to absorption during cooking.

Iodine is a mineral that helps prevent radiation poisoning. Iodine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. Iodine is essential for rapid brain activity. It works to prevent tumors, prostate inflammation, adrenal exhaustion, liver problems, kidney infection, and mucus buildup. Iodine helps keep skin, hair, and nails healthy. It also speeds the healing of wounds. Iodine is used by other parts of the body (such as the mammary glands, eyes, digestive system, the immune system, the cervix, and salivary glands) but exact roles are unknown.

Iodine is very important during pregnancy. Infants born to mothers with iodine deficiency may have cretinism, dwarfism, mental retardation, puffy facial features, and lack of muscle coordination.

Most people get iodine from iodized table salt. Natural sources of iodine include sea food, kelp, and plants grown on iodine-rich soil. Other foods that contain small amounts of iodine are eggs, dairy products, cheese, yogurt, onions, radishes, and watercress. Some raw foods including kale, cabbage, peanuts, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi, and turnips prevent the body from utilizing iodine and should be cooked until tender (if iodine deficiency is suspected).

Iodine deficiency results in extreme fatigue, hypothyroidism, depression, confused thinking, menstrual problems, and weight gain. (Excess iodine may cause the same symptoms!)

Current research shows that iodine deficiency may also cause fibrocystic breast disease and breast cancer. There is also a direct link between iodine deficiency and stomach cancer.

Iodine is useful in preventing diseases of the mouth and treating vaginal infections. A seaweed bath is a good way to get iodine into the body. Seaweeds purify and balance the ocean and can do the same for us! A seaweed bath helps release toxins and replaces them with potassium and iodine. Tincture of iodine can cause skin irritations. Prolonged use is not recommended.

J -- jojoba oil

Jojoba oil (pronounced ho-HO-ba) is a liquid wax extracted from the beans of a desert shrub native to Arizona, southern California, and northwestern Mexico. It is used as a lubricant and as a substitute for beeswax.

Jojoba oil is very similar to the skin’s natural oil (sebum). Jojoba oil provides antioxidants and does not become rancid as quickly as other oils. It does not clog pores, is easily absorbed, and makes an excellent addition to beauty products like lip balms, lotions, ointments, creams, and massage oils. Since jojoba oil does not irritate the skin, it can even be used around the eyes. Jojoba oil makes an excellent make-up remover. Mexican and American Indians have used jojoba oil as a hair conditioner and skin moisturizer for centuries.

Jojoba oil is also a fungicide and can be used to control mildew. It is edible, although passes through the digestive tract without breaking down (causing unpleasant results). Jojoba oil is available at most health food stores. Purchase an organic variety for best results.

L -- from lactobacilli to lysine

Lactobacilli are beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines and aid digestion. These bacteria are very sensitive and easily destroyed by chemicals, drugs, or antibiotics. If killed off, an overgrowth of yeast organisms occurs. Even small doses of antibiotics can wreak havoc on the digestive system so buy organic meat and dairy whenever possible (since they do not contain antibiotics).

A lactobacilli deficiency leads to skin disorders, chronic yeast infection, irritable bowel syndrome, hepatitis, lupus, and heart disease. Lactobacilli growth can be encouraged by eating yogurt, uncooked sauerkraut, and other fermented foods on a regular basis.

Lactose is a milk sugar that requires certain enzymes to break down during digestion. If these enzymes are lacking, a person is said to be lactose intolerant. The unabsorbed lactose migrates to the colon where it causes intestinal problems. An estimated fifty million Americans are lactose intolerant! People with lactose intolerance should avoid dairy products.

Lanolin is extracted from wool. Actually a wax, it is produced by of the oil glands of sheep. Lanolin is a natural emulsifier that absorbs water and holds it next to the skin.

Lecithin is a fat like substance produced in the liver and present in some foods. It is found in the protective sheath around the human brain. Lecithin is utilized by the nerves, cardiovascular system, and other cells to regulate flow of nutrients and wastes through cell membranes. It is required to balance cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body. Lecithin reduces large, dangerous LDL cholesterol globules and promotes smaller, healthy HDL particles.

Lecithin is a natural emulsifier. Supplements can help improve brain function, particularly in older adults and stroke victims. Lecithin is also used in the treatment of depression, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and neurological disorders. It breaks down fat cells and helps prevent the hardening of arteries and fatty plaque buildup.

Lecithin granules be sprinkled on cereal or added to juice. Lecithin is also available in capsule form. Take before meals for best results. Food sources include soybeans, peanuts, and egg yolks.

Lipids are a group of fats and fat like substances essential to human health. They are present in every cell. Lipids in the blood are called cholesterol. These fat particles are bound to two types of lipoproteins - low density lipoproteins (LDL’s) and high density lipoproteins (HDL’s). LDL’s are richest in cholesterol and too much is related to heart disease. HDL’s clear fat away from artery walls and return it to the liver for excretion. Reduced consumption of cholesterol causes the body to increase production of it! Triglyceride lipids are fats stored in connective tissue. High amounts of triglycerides can cause fat thighs and a big belly. Triglycerides also surround the organs to support and cushion them from trauma. Too many triglycerides can hinder the organs and cause all kinds of problems.

Lithium is present in the Earth’s crust as a trace mineral. It is used in the treatment of depression, epilepsy, alcoholism, drug withdrawal, migraine headaches, and ADD in children. Lithium can help malignant lymphatic growths, hardening of the arteries, and chronic hepatitis in some cases. Overuse of lithium causes heart palpitations and headaches. Food sources include mineral water, whole grains, and seeds.

Lutein is a nutrient vital to eye health. It is found in spinach, kale, corn, egg yolks, and other fresh produce. Derived from a carotenoid (like beta-carotene), it works as a super potent antioxidant to protect the eyes. Lutein makes up the yellow pigment in the retina and specifically protects the macula.

Lysine is an essential amino acid found in corn, poultry, and avocados. It is used in the treatment of herpes, Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, and Alzheimer’s disease. Lysine helps to rebuild muscle and to heal tissue after trauma or surgery. Lysine is important for calcium uptake and bone growth. It also helps with the formation of healthy collagen, hormones, and enzymes.

M -- from magnesium to minerals

Magnesium is required by the body for enzyme activity and a strong immune system. It helps ease pain, reduces swelling, and promotes fast healing. Magnesium is a requirement for strong bone formation. This important mineral is necessary for good nerve function, blood pressure regulation, endurance, and restful sleep. Magnesium fights stress, emotional problems, and depression. It calms hyperactive children. Magnesium supplements also help treat alcoholism, diabetes, and asthma. A deficiency of magnesium results in muscle spasms, cramps, digestion problems, and fibromyalgia. Magnesium is absorbed more readily from foods than from pills, capsules, or tablets. Food sources include dark green vegetables, seafood, whole grains, dairy foods, nuts, legumes, poultry, hot spices, and cocoa.

Manganese is another essential mineral. It nourishes the brain and nerves, aids in sugar and fat metabolism, and is necessary for DNA production. Just like with magnesium, the body’s enzymes are dependant on manganese for optimal activity. Manganese helps fight fatigue, nerve problems, and lower back pain. A deficiency results in poor hair and nail growth, loss of hearing, and poor muscle joint coordination. Tranquilizer drugs deplete manganese. Food sources include blueberries, ginger, rice, eggs, green vegetables, legumes, nuts, and bananas.

Measurements: One liquid ounce equals approximately two tablespoons, six teaspoons, or eight hundred drops. These amounts are often used when measuring essential oils for ointments, lotions, and other concoctions.

Melatonin is a hormone that helps keep the body in sync with the seasons. It helps protect cells from free radical damage, helps to overcome jet lag, and enhances antibody production. When melatonin is deficient, there is a greater risk for breast and prostate cancer.

Melatonin may help anorexia, hypertension, depression, schizophrenia, and psoriasis. Melatonin is not recommended for anyone under the age of forty because the body begins to shut down natural production once supplementation begins. Excess melatonin in young people can cause delayed puberty, obesity, and sleep disorders. In cases of low melatonin levels, try taking ginseng and garlic on a regular basis.

Minerals are the building blocks of life and regulate most metabolic functions. Minerals cannot be produced by the body so must be consumed in the diet on a regular basis. Bad diet and stress work to deplete minerals from the body. Healthy minerals have been leached from our soil and so most of today’s produce has less of them than just a few decades ago.

N -- neem oil

Neem oil comes from a tropical tree related to mahogany. It is used medicinally to treat skin problems, gum disease, parasite infections, fevers, allergies, inflammation, ulcers , cardiovascular problems, and athlete’s foot. Neem oil is also added to many skin care products.

O -- from omega 3 oil to oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes

Omega 3 oils (fatty acids) are necessary for a healthy body. Good sources include cold water fish, walnut oil, canola oil, wheat germ oil, evening primrose oil, flax seed oil, hemp seed oil, soy beans, and seafood. Omega 3s are used in the treatment of PMS, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Omegas 3s also help lower bad cholesterol, improve the appearance of the skin, improve heart function, and aid digestion. They help increase stamina, support good liver function, and increase the ratio of muscle to fat. The symptoms of omega 3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, dry itchy skin, brittle nails, dull hair, constipation, frequent colds, depression, poor concentration, lack of physical endurance, and joint pain.

Omega 6 oils are also necessary for good health. They are found in nuts and cold pressed oils such as sesame, sunflower, safflower, and corn oil.

OPC’s (Oligomeric Proanthocyanidin Complexes) are extracted from grape seeds, white pine bark, and maritime pine bark. They are potent bioflavonoid antioxidants that destroy free radicals and help slow the body’s aging process. OPC’s were first discovered in the 1940’s by Dr. Jacques Masquelier (and are also known as Pycnogenols).

OPC’s not only protect the body from free radical damage, they also help repair damaged cells. They are used in the treatment and prevention of cancer, arthritis, diabetes, cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, high cholesterol, varicose veins, restless leg syndrome, PMS, hemorrhoids, migraine headaches, attention deficit syndrome, hyperactivity, eye problems, chronic fatigue, and age related diseases.

OPC’s strengthen the walls of blood vessels, arteries, and capillaries. Research shows that OPC’s can improve vision by allowing more nutrients to be delivered to the eyes. OPC’s can help delay the development of cataracts and reports show that improvement in vision is often noticed within a few days.

OPC’s can cross the blood/brain barrier where they work to strengthen and protect the cells of the brain. They also slow the growth of tumors in the brain and throughout the body. OPC’s do not cure disease and illness. Instead they help the body to neutralize the effects of damaging free radicals. When free radicals are controlled, the body can functions at its best to heal itself. (An excess of free radicals is caused by pollution, food additives, slow metabolism, diets high in fat, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, nutritional deficiencies, and stress. Free radicals attack all of the body’s tissue and are a direct cause of disease, illness, and premature aging.)

OPC’s work a lot like vitamin E and vitamin C although they are many time stronger. OPC’s are very efficient at slowing collagen destruction and protecting the blood vessels. They can restore skin’s elasticity and help joints become more flexible by repairing damaged collagen. (Collagen supports the organs, blood vessels, joints, and tissues. Collagen also supports the skin and keeps it from forming wrinkles.)

OPC’s help improve the delivery of oxygen to the cells. They build immunity, fight allergies, and help heal infections. OPC’s are one of the most useful of all nutritional supplements.

Natural OPC’s are found in the red skins of peanuts, grape juice, red wine, coconuts, apples, cocoa, and other plants (but are destroyed by cooking). OPC’s are most highly concentrated in fibrous bark, stems, seeds, and skins – the part of food that is often discarded.

P -- from parasites to pycnogenol

Parasites are very common in the human body. Parasites are stronger than ever because they have developed immunity to the drugs that are designed to kill them. Thank goodness for natural anti-parasitic herbs like garlic, black walnut hull, pumpkin seed, fennel seed, slippery elm, and cascara sagrada. These herbs work to rid the body of pests.

PH is a scale used to measure acidity and alkalinity. Keeping the body’s pH at an optimal level can help guard against parasites and other problems. PH runs from 1 to 14. Water is neutral with a pH of 7. Acid is 1 to 6 and alkaline is 8 to 14.

An ideal range for urine and saliva pH is 6.3 to 6.8. The human body is naturally mildly acidic. Urine and saliva pH varies throughout the day so an average is usually calculated after testing 4 or 5 times in a 16 hour period. Urine pH cycles from 5.5 in the morning to 7.0 later in the day.

Measuring body pH can help diagnose problems. Saliva pH averages above 6.8 can indicate digestive problems. Saliva averages below 6.0 can mean liver and blood toxicity. Averages below 6.0 can also indicate dehydration.

Colon pH is also important. It should be 6.8 to 7.0. When colon pH is too alkaline (above 7.0) yeast and harmful bacteria begin to grow. To lower pH in the colon, eat lots of live yogurt.

Most people who suffer from unbalanced pH are acidic. This condition forces the body to borrow minerals like calcium from organs and bones (to buffer the excess acid). Note that a food's acid or alkaline-forming tendency in the body has nothing to do with the actual pH of the food itself. For example, lemons are very acidic (however the end-products they produce after digestion and assimilation are very alkaline). To maintain correct pH in the body, it is critical to avoid artificial sweeteners and processed foods.

Phosphorus is very important to a healthy body. It is the second most abundant body mineral and is necessary for bone health, brain oxygenation, and cell reproduction. Food sources include eggs, fish, legumes, nuts, and poultry.

Phytochemicals are substances in plants that have specific medical purposes in the body. The best way to reap the benefits from phytochemicals is to consume the plant in its whole form. Anti carcinogen phytochemicals fight cancer. Plant sources include ginseng, soy, garlic, echinacea, goldenseal, yellowroot, licorice, black cohosh, wild yam, maitake mushroom, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli.

Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals (free radicals damage DNA and destroy cells). Food sources of polyphenols include honey, vegetables, and fruit especially apples, blueberries, blackberries, pomegranate, cherries, grapes, plums, broccoli, celery, onions, parsley, red wine, chocolate, green tea, olive oil, and whole grains.

Polysaccharides are long chains of simple sugars that are used by to body stimulate the immunity and to help repair tissue. Large quantities of polysaccharides are found in many herbs including aloe, green tea, echinacea, astragalus, and maitake mushrooms.

Potassium is a mineral that balances the pH in the body’s fluids. Stress, diarrhea, anxiety, and depression can result in a deficiency of this vital nutrient. A potassium vegetable broth is often used in natural healing for cleansing and restoring energy. Potassium vegetable broth recipe is easy to make. Take 2 quarts of water and add 3 whole potatoes (do not peel), 2 stalks of chopped celery, a couple handfuls of greens (such as collard, mustard, kale, turnip, chickweed, or parsley), and some seaweed like kelp if available. Use a stainless steel pot and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, strain and discard plant material. Save the juice and drink 2-3 cups per day until health is restored. (Keep refrigerated or make fresh daily.)

Other good food sources of potassium include kiwi, banana, coriander, cilantro, cumin, basil, ginger, hot peppers, dill, tarragon, turmeric, poultry, fish, dairy products, legumes, seeds, and whole grains.

Probiotics are a category of food supplements that contain beneficial microorganisms (also called “good bacteria”). Probiotics help the digestive system to work properly. Probiotics fight yeast overgrowth and help rid the body of harmful bacteria. Food sources include yogurt, fermented and unfermented milk, miso, tempeh, sauerkraut, some juices, and some soy beverages. In probiotic foods and supplements, the beneficial microorganisms may have been present naturally or added during processing.

Prostaglandins are vital hormone like substances that the body manufactures from fatty acids. They are produced throughout the body – not in just one gland or organ. Prostaglandins regulate the relaxation and contraction of smooth muscle tissue, help keep the blood healthy, function as a pain reliever, control cell growth, and induce labor. Excess saturated fat in the body (like fat that comes from red meat and diary products) inhibits prostaglandin production and hormone activity. Prostaglandins are potent but have a short life and must be replaced constantly. Good food sources of fatty acids (and prostaglandin) include ocean fish, seafood, cold pressed vegetable oils, evening primrose oil, flax seed oil, sunflower seed oil, and nuts.

Protein is necessary for life. Next to water, protein is the body’s most plentiful substance. Most Americans eat way too much protein. It does not burn cleanly in the body and leaves behind nitrogen waste causing the liver and kidneys to work overtime. Too much protein promotes aggressive behavior, increases body odor, causes obesity, irritates the immune system, causes fluid imbalances, and leads to serious problems like cancer and heart disease. Sources of healthier vegetable proteins include grains, legumes, soy foods, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, nuts, seeds, nut butters, dark green vegetables, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Proteins serve as building blocks for the cells and supply energy. Proteins are made up of amino acids that are broken down during digestion. Most proteins are found in animal sources such as meats, milk, fish and eggs. Proteins contain amino acids like sulphur, taurine, tryptophan, and tyrosine. Extra protein is needed during childhood (for growth and development), during pregnancy, when breast-feeding, and when the body needs to recover from malnutrition or trauma. If enough protein is not supplied by diet, the body will use protein from the muscle mass to meet its energy needs.

Pulse rate is a measurement of how many times the heart beats in a minute. Pulse rate in a healthy person is usually 50 to 70 beats with stress and allergies causing the rate to increase by 20 or more. To establish a base rate, pulse should be taken upon waking in the morning. To test for allergies, take pulse rate right after eating a suspected food. Wait 15-20 minutes and take pulse again. If the rate has increased more than 15 beats per minute, consider omitting the food from the diet.

Pycnogenol is an antioxidant that is 50 times stronger than vitamin E and 20 times stronger than vitamin C (when it comes to mopping up damaging free radicals from the body). Pycnogenol is a highly active bioflavonoid extracted from pine bark. It can cross the blood brain barrier to help protect brain cells.

Q -- quercetin

Quercetin is also a powerful antioxidant and bioflavonoid. It is derived from blue green algae and is used in controlling allergies and asthma. For extra strength, take quercetin with fresh pineapple or a bromelain enzyme supplement. Quercetin is found in red wine, red grapes, and other dark colored fruits. Some scientists consider quercetin to be one of the most powerful anti-cancer agents ever discovered. It is shown to reverse tumor development in some patients. Quercetin’s activity is increased by wine fermentation and by the activity of naturally occurring “friendly” bacteria in the intestines.

R -- from resveratrol to royal jelly

Resveratrol is a natural compound found in grape skins, peanuts, and cocoa powder. It fights fungal disease, lowers cholesterol, normalizes blood sugar levels, and reduces blood clots in arteries narrowed by years of heavy fat consumption. Resveratrol helps reduce inflammation and hinders the replication of the herpes virus. Studies are currently underway to see if resveratrol may be helpful in the treatment of esophagus, intestinal, colon, skin, and other cancers. Resveratrol may also increase testosterone production in some cases so should not be taken by pregnant women, babies, children, or anyone trying to get pregnant.

Retin-A is a prescription drug for treating acne, fine lines, and other skin problems. It is derived from vitamin A. Retin-A is available in varying strengths and works by causing the skin to peel. It is an irritant so always avoid bright sunshine, extreme weather conditions, wind, dry heat, heavy cosmetics, and strong soaps when using this medicine.

Royal Jelly is a milk-like substance produced by the queen bee’s nurse workers. Royal jelly contains large amounts of the B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and silicon. It contains other minerals, enzymes, hormones, and eight essential amino acids necessary for life. Royal jelly combats the effects of stress, fatigue, and insomnia while promoting healthy skin and hair. The highest quality royal jelly is raw and unprocessed. Raw royal jelly is readily absorbed by the body and it only takes one drop per day to do the job.

S -- from salicylic acid to sugar

Salicylic acid occurs naturally in wintergreen leaves and white willow bark. It is also the active ingredient in aspirin. Salicylic acid is used in the treatment of fever, headache, muscle pain, and many other conditions.

Salicylic acid can be absorbed through the skin so is suitable for use in ointments, creams, and plasters. It can stop itching and is useful as an antiseptic.

Some scientists believe that salicylic acid should be classified as a vitamin - Vitamin S. As with other beta hydroxy acids, salicylic acid is a key ingredient in many skin-care products and is useful in the treatment of acne, psoriasis, dandruff, and warts.

The Greek physician Hippocrates wrote in the 5th century BC about a bitter powder extracted from willow bark that could ease aches and pains. Native Americans have used an infusion of willow bark for fever and other medicinal purposes for centuries.

Next time you reach for an aspirin, remember it is one of the oldest medicines known to mankind. Aspirin (and willow bark tea) taken in large amounts may cause abdominal pain and hyperventilation. If taking salicylic or using it on the skin, stay out of direct sunlight as sensitivity can occur.

Salt (also known as refined table salt) is necessary for life although people need less and less of it as they age. Salt deficiency can be life threatening. Signs include flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, tissue dehydration, wrinkles, and sunken eyes.

Sometimes iodine is added to salt. This practice began in 1924 to help reduce the number of people with iodine deficiency. (Iodine deficiency causes thyroid problems and birth defects.) One level teaspoonful of granulated evaporated salt contains approximately 6,200 mg sodium chloride, or approximately 2,400 mg sodium.

Salt is produced by evaporation of seawater or brine and by mining rock salt (halite). Salt is the world’s oldest food additive. Salt makes sugar taste sweeter and improves the taste of everything from vegetables to chocolate. Salt plays a key role in food safety by retarding the growth of harmful bacteria.

People only need about 2000 mg of salt per day (less than a teaspoon). One small hamburger at a fast food joint can easily contain over 1000 mg of salt! In today’s world of processed and fast foods, people consume way too much salt. Too much salt can cause aggressive behavior, hyperactivity, and poor glandular function. Too much salt also leads to heart disease, high blood pressure, poor circulation, water retention, migraine headache, and even death.

Sea vegetables (formerly known as seaweed) include dulse, kelp, sea palm, and wakame. They are nutritional powerhouses! Sea vegetables are rich in protein, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, iodine, and carotenes. They help maintain the correct body pH, help rid the body of toxins, and can be used in place of salt especially in stews and soups. Sea vegetables are also used in the treatment of obesity, cellulite, and skin problems. Dried sea veggies can be found at some supermarkets and most health food stores.

Selenium is needed to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses. It is a potent antioxidant, protects the body from free radical damage, and aids in removal of heavy metals. Selenium works with vitamin E to prevent fat from accumulating in the blood. It protects the heart and enhances elasticity of the skin. Selenium helps to ensure that we stay healthy.

A selenium deficiency results in premature aging of the skin, liver damage, and increased chance of digestive tract cancers. Good food sources of selenium include bran, broccoli, brewer’s yeast, sesame seeds, oysters, fish, sea veggies, nuts, cabbage, celery, corn, cucumbers, garlic, mushrooms, onions, wheat germ, and whole grains.

Shark cartilage is a dietary supplement made from the dried and powdered cartilage of a shark’s skeleton. Shark cartilage contains an active protein that inhibits the development of new blood vessel networks. This can greatly reduce the growth of tumors. Shark cartilage supplements can help lessen the severity of rheumatoid arthritis and help in the treatment of eye disease. Other uses include treating lupus, yeast infections, eczema, and psoriasis. Women who are pregnant, persons with heart disease, liver disease, or kidney problems should avoid shark cartilage.

Silicon is a mineral that is derived from the earth’s crust. Present in most foods, it plays a part in connective tissue growth, collagen synthesis, and regeneration of cells. Silicon counteracts the effects of aluminum on the body and helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Silica (silicon dioxide) is a form of silicon found in nature, usually combined with hydrogen or other molecules. Silica is the main ingredient in rocks and sand. It is also used by the body to help maintain healthy hair, skin, and nails. Food sources include grain husks, seeds, leafy greens, barley, oats, millet, whole wheat, red beets, asparagus, parsley, bell peppers, and mineral water.

Silicone is a synthetic polymer much like natural rubber. It can be stretched to several times its size and still snap back to its original length. Silicone gel is sometimes used in breast implants.

Sitz baths are used as a healing technique. Alternating hot and cold hydrotherapy, a sitz bath is especially beneficial for increasing circulation in the pelvic area. To take a sitz bath, sit in a tub of warm (hundred degree) water for 10 minutes. Then splash with cool water and repeat two or three times. Epsom salts, powered ginger, comfrey, or chamomile may be added to the warm bath for extra strength.

Sorbitol gives a velvety smoothness to skin by promoting water retention. It is used in ointments, lotions, and creams. Sorbitol is found in berries, cherries, plums, pears, apples, seaweed, and algae. It is used as a sugar substitute and as a chemical sweetener, often added to mouthwash and toothpaste. Sorbitol does not promote tooth decay! The chemical version of sorbitol (derived from corn) is absorbed slowly by the body and is well tolerated by diabetics (although excess amounts can cause diarrhea).

Soy foods include tofu, miso, soy cheese, tamari, tempeh, and soy milk. They are rich in calcium, iron, zinc, protein, and B vitamins. Soy foods help inhibit the development of many cancers including skin, colon, lung, pancreatic, esophageal, and liver cancers. Soy foods also help stimulate immune response when harmful agents invade the body.

Soy foods contain an isoflavone which is similar to estrogen so should not be taken by people with female type cancers. Isoflavone helps inhibit angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels necessary for nourishment of growing tumors) but can cause breast cancers to grow faster. Soy also helps maintain bone density and helps relieve hot flashes in menopausal women.

Sprouts are a natural source of protein. They are rich in vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, minerals, antioxidants, live enzymes, and simple sugars. Sprouts give a quick burst of energy and help cleanse the body of toxins. Add bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, and wheat sprouts to salads and sandwiches for a nutritional boost.

Sulphur is essential for protein absorption in the body. It is also necessary for smooth skin, glossy hair, hard nails, and collagen production. Sulphur is known as the mineral of beauty. Meat, eggs, fish, seafood, cheese, cabbage, nuts, onions, garlic, hot peppers, dried fruit, and mustard are good sources of this necessary mineral.

Sugar is addictive and adds nothing but empty calories to the diet. Like drugs and alcohol, it affects the brain first (known as sugar rush). Sugar causes diabetes, hypoglycemia, heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, nearsightedness, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, gout, indigestion, yeast infection, and tooth decay. Sugar also provides the perfect breeding ground for dangerous staph infections and flesh eating diseases.

Sugar needs insulin in order to be broken down into manageable size molecules. These molecules are transformed into fat globules and distributed over internal organs and muscles especially under the chin, around the stomach, and on the hips. Excess sugar drains away calcium and overloads the body with acidic residue that causes stiffness and joint pain. Sugar ties up B vitamins causing skin, nervous, and digestive problems. It also depresses the immunity.

An imbalance between sugar and oxygen in the body causes diabetes (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). A good diet with lots of vegetables and whole grains can greatly improve both conditions.

Low blood sugar is very common. Excess sugar causes the pancreas to flood the body with insulin, taking what it needs from the blood. Symptoms include fatigue, confusion, depression, anxiety, unconsciousness, and even death.

Diabetes is becoming more and more widespread. Too little insulin is produced by the body so blood sugar levels stay too high. The pancreas becomes damaged and sugar accumulates in the blood but is not delivered to the body’s cells. Symptoms include everything from mental confusion to coma and death. Avoid sugar – it is poison if consumed on a regular basis!

For the sweet tooth, there are good sugar substitutes available. One of the best is stevia. Stevia is an herb that is sweeter than sugar and can be grown in the home garden. Stevia can also be purchased in powdered form, liquid drops, and various blends. Other choices include honey, sorghum syrup, and maple syrup but even these natural sweeteners are dangerous if overused.

T -- from taurine to tyrosine

Taurine is an amino acid that is produced by the body. Taurine supplements can help control hyperactivity, nervous system imbalances, and epilepsy seizures. Studies suggest that taurine can help relieve hangover and help normalize irregular heartbeat. Taurine helps prevent hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, water retention, and hypertension. Taurine also aids in lowering cholesterol levels.

High concentrations of taurine are found in meat, seafood, and human breast milk. Taurine is an essential dietary requirement for feline health, since cats cannot synthesize the compound. The absence of taurine causes a cat's retina to degenerate, causing eye problems, blindness, hair loss, and tooth decay. Songbirds also require a dietary source of taurine (especially young hatchlings).

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. It is involved in mood and metabolism regulation. Tryptophan is a natural tranquilizer that helps promote a restful sleep. It is used to decrease aggressive behavior, migraine headaches, and schizophrenia episodes. Tryptophan can counteract compulsive overeating by raising serotonin levels. It is also used to lessen withdrawal symptoms.

Tryptophan is not produced by the body and must be obtained from the diet. Good food sources include meat, poultry, fish, chocolate, oats, dried fruit, dairy products, eggs, seeds, nuts, corn, and bananas.

Tyrosine is a semi-essential amino acid, antioxidant, and growth hormone stimulant. It helps build up the body’s store of adrenaline. Tyrosine gives quick energy and boosts brain function. It is used to treat mild depression, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, and drug withdrawal symptoms. Tyrosine increases libido, helps reduce appetite, and helps rid the body of excess fat.

Studies show that reducing tyrosine in the diet may help slow the growth of tumors and cancerous melanomas. Reduction of tyrosine levels may help in the treatment of manic depression. Like tryptophan and taurine, tyrosine is found in high protein foods.

V -- vitamins

Vitamins are organic micro-nutrients that keep the body functioning at peak performance. They are not energy pills or substitutes for food! In humans there are 13 known vitamins including four fat-soluble (A, D, E, and K) and 9 water-soluble (8 B vitamins and vitamin C). Fat soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and are stored by the body. Water soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are excreted via the urinary tract. Vitamins are necessary for growth, vitality, and resistance to disease. Even small deficiencies can lead to serious problems.

In many countries, it is hard to get enough vitamins in the diet. It is not uncommon for people to suffer starvation and related diseases due to lack of food (and vitamins). Vitamin supplements help save the lives of many children and adults during times of famine, droughts, and other disasters.

In America, people are at risk for vitamin deficiency due to poor eating habits (like living off of processed and fast foods). Even though lots of processed foods (from flavored water to pasta and snack foods) are enriched with vitamins – they may be of such poor quality that they are never absorbed by the body.

There is also the issue of food quality. Many factory farms are producing genetically modified vegetables grown in overused soil. These foods have been proven to contain far less nutrients than the same varieties grown in rich soil (like our river bottoms and red clay fields here in North Georgia).

People that grow their own vegetables and fruits or buy from small farmers are much more likely to be consuming vitamin and mineral rich foods. If someone eats a good balanced diet with lots of fresh veggies and fruits, they do not need to take vitamin supplements unless advised to do so by a healthcare professional.

It can harm the body if too many vitamins are consumed through pills and supplements. Excess amounts are excreted in urine or stored until needed and can lead to conditions like hair loss, toxicity, insomnia, and kidney stones. Too many vitamins can lead to problems!

People that may need to take vitamin supplements include women with heavy periods, pregnant and nursing women, the elderly, people taking medications, people on strict weight loss diets, people who have undergone recent surgery (or serious injury), people with periodontal disease, and vegetarians.

Other people that may need vitamin supplements include smokers (they need extra B and C), drinkers (they need more C and B), nervous people (may need more B), overweight people (may need more E), and anyone consuming lots of preservatives (need more C). People who don’t eat many fresh vegetables and fruits may also need vitamin supplements (but it’s best to change the diet). If vitamin supplements are necessary, buy the best brand that you can afford.

Everyone should eat fresh vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, fruits, and a variety of herbs on a daily basis. Even with a good diet, essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients may be lacking due to poor soil, environmental conditions, and processing. If purchasing herbal health supplements, look for products that are fresh and of high quality. Many pills, tablets, and capsules are full of fillers and do not dissolve properly (if at all). Isotonic supplements (liquids with a molecular weight almost identical to blood plasma) are absorbed quickly and delivered to the body in minutes. These can be found in some health food stores and online.

* Always consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal remedy or supplement as a medicine especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications.

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Herb Articles by Janice Boling

"The best way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell different herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." Janice Boling -- herbalist, web designer, artist, and writer

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** Most of the articles in this online herbal encyclopedia were first published by the North Georgia News in a weekly column titled Every Green Herb (by Janice Boling).

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