A Potent Berry for Liver Health: Schisandra chinensis

With its sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and bitter flavor profile, it’s no surprise the Chinese call Schisandra chinensis “the five flavored fruit,” or wu wei zi. Regarded as the most important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the schisandra berry might more aptly be called the “fruit of life.”

Schisandra belongs to a unique class of herbs known as adaptogens, which enhance the body’s ability to adapt to, and recover from, stress. The source of the stress could be emotional, mental, environmental, or physical, such as when you become sick. In addition to supporting the body across physiological systems, it provides protective benefits for the liver, the body’s engine for detoxification. Studies show schisandra reduces inflammation, keeps hormones in balance, helps regenerate liver tissue, and lowers levels of an enzyme associated with liver damage.

Traditional Chinese physicians have long used schisandra to:

  1. stimulate the immune system and support adrenal gland function
  2. enhance recovery from illness or surgery
  3. reduce inflammation and fatigue
  4. improve blood circulation and enhance detoxification

Dried schizandra berries can be made into powder, capsule, tincture, tonic, tea and even wine. Schisandra is safe for most people, but precautions must be used if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have epilepsy, or reflux disease. Your La Mesa naturopathic doctor can identify the type of schisandra supplement that is best for you.

References
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Journey of Health Medical Clinic

619-772-1164

Healing The Gut with Marshmallow Root

There’s much more to that sweet, fluffy treat we enjoy melted in a s’more or sprinkled atop hot cocoa. Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) is an ancient herb whose Greek name, Althainean, means “to heal.” Ancient Greek and Egyptian healers used Marshmallow flowers and leaves in salads to support healthy digestion. A secretion, known as mucilage, from its roots and stems, was used to soften the skin, treat sore throats, and ease congestion. Naturopathic doctors use Marshmallow Root (aka “mallow”) for these purposes and in treatment preparations for:

  • inflammation of the lining of the stomach
  • digestive issues including diarrhea stomach ulcers, constipation
  • inflammatory bowel disease, leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disorders
  • skin conditions such as eczema
  • bloating and water retention
  • dry coughs and colds
  • bacterial infections and respiratory infections

A key healing property of Marshmallow Root is the ability to soothe inflammation of the mucous membranes throughout the body. When food sensitivity/allergies, illness, or other factors interfere with healthy digestion, a person can experience upset stomach, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Mallow forms a thick protective coating in the digestive tract, which helps reduce the burning and tame other symptoms of digestive distress.

With tall stalks topped by a lovely five-petal white blossom with purple center, Marshmallow Root makes a striking addition to a garden – especially if you enjoy harvesting for herbal tea. Supplements come in different forms including powder, tea, extract, ointments, and capsule. While considered safe for most adults and children, do ask your La Mesa naturopathic doctor which preparations of are best for you.

References
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Journey of Health Medical Clinic

619-772-1164

Elderberry: Medicinal Elixir for the Whole Family

For millennia, physicians, and herbalists have found medicinal uses for all parts of the elder tree, including its wood, leaves, flowers and berries. Leaves were used in ointments to heal skin. The flowers and berries were made into infusions as a common treatment for colds and rheumatic conditions. Today, herbalists and holistic physicians commonly recommend elderberry for the wide variety of properties that can support the health of the young and old alike.

European (Black) Elder (Sambucus nigra) is the species safely and most commonly used for botanical medicines. Note that the berries should not be eaten (or used) raw. They must be dried first or properly cooked at the peak of ripeness.

Elderberries are rich in Vitamin C and flavonoids that act as antioxidants that protect cells in the body from damage and can help reduce inflammation. They have been used in preparations to treat colds, flu, and bacterial sinus infection. In studies, syrup prepared from the juice of elderberry has been shown to help decrease the duration of flu symptoms, including swelling in mucous membranes and congestion. Other studies have shown that elderberry extracts have antiviral properties and appear to have a role in inhibiting the replication of viruses.

Elderberry can interact with other medications including those used to treat diabetes, asthma, and drugs that suppress the immune system. Before using an elderberry product for an adult or a child, check with your La Mesa naturopathic doctor to verify the integrity of the product and appropriate use.

References
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Saw Palmetto

Is your Saw Palmetto irritating you or nourishing you?
       Saw Palmetto fruit is the 3rd most popular herb sold in the U.S., bringing in $32 million annually. Mostly this herb is snatched off the shelf by women shopping for their husband. Most commonly known used for the prostate.
       Also known as Serenoa repens, this botanical can act like a diuretic, decongestant and as an anti-inflammatory. It nourishes the male reproductive system, decreases prostate growth and amazingly enough, it can also help women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It limits the conversation of testosterone to the next step, dihydrotestosterone which causes all the abnormal prostate growth and PCOS irritation.
       Saw Palmetto can be very effective herb but only if you take the right kind. Saw Palmetto has been in the news for marketing as Saw Palmetto and great attributes but containing fake ingredients. Many companies have filled their pills with useless fillers and unripe fruit. Most consumers don’t really know if the mix of lutein, beta carotene, zeaxanthin and other herbal properties in their product is active and good quality.
       If you want to benefit from Saw Palmetto and want to avoid the other chemicals and pesticides, our La Mesa Naturopathic Medical Clinic is happy to recommend to our patients highest quality products with proven track records.

La Mesa Naturopathic Doctor Discusses Echinacea: A Top Selling Herb in the US

 Echinacea brought in $16 million in the U.S. and was 8th most popular herb sold. It is a wonder why it didn’t make #1!  Most everyone knows of echinacea, common name of Purple Coneflower. There are two types, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea augustifolia with the roots and leaves being used.
     Echinacea contains large polysaccharide molecules called heteroglycans. This is where Echinacea gets its shining reports. There are many types of heteroglycans such as Echinacin A and B and Echinacein and these constituents have the immune stimulating properties that most people are looking for in echinacea. There are other flavonoids, essential oil, and allyamides that help stimulate the immune system as well. Echinacea promotes natural killer cells to do their job and immune cells that act like pac-man to virus, bacteria, cancer, and trash. Echinacea constituents are well studied and continue to fascinate us with modern day paintball and laser tag action.
     There are many forms of Echinacea. Germany alone has 40 different echinacea products. Echinacea is usually taken as tincture or pills and less often as tea, although tea is fine too. Widely used for common colds, sore throats and flus, it is also used routinely to prevent illness in those with a less active immune system such as cancer, chronic fatigue, chronic infection, and AIDS. Lesser known uses include for recurring boils, topical use, and as an antidote for snake bites by reducing the venom effects.
     Echinacea is quite safe even in higher doses, in children and for autoimmune patients. Side effects are well studied and very few reported. Unfortunately, Echinacea is disappearing from the wild since it has been over harvested and picked for floral arrangements. In my La Mesa Naturopathic Clinic I use a variety of botanicals in our herbal practice and always use clean products without the fillers.