Posted 03/26/2012 I recently saw a documentary about comedienne Joan Rivers. At one point, she shows viewers her “joke room,” which contains an entire wall filled with her joke files. Among them is a drawer packed with good news/bad news jokes. Most of us feel anxiety when someone says, “I’ve got good news and bad […]
The Anxiety in Your Gut
Posted 01/17/2012 “That gut feeling.” We’ve all experienced it, but we may have difficulty describing the sensation. We sense or “know” something internally, feeling butterflies in our stomach, almost as if our entire intestinal tract were a second brain, low on reflective skills but high on intuitive ones. During the past decade an incredible amount […]
Grapefruit Seed Extract
This unlikely herbal infection-fighter is synthesized from the seeds and pulp of the grapefruit. It was farmers who first used grapefruit seed Extract (GSE) to inhibit the growth of mold on their equipment; later, cosmetic companies added it to their products as a preservative.
Look at the nutrition label on your orange juice or multivitamin and you may notice that ginseng has been added. That’s because smart marketers have caught on to this Herb’s 2,000-year-old reputation as a “feel good” tonic that can boost energy, combat the physical effects of stress, empower the immune system, improve concentration, and provide Antioxidant actions. Its legendary properties, particularly as an aphrodisiac, were once so prized in China that only the emperor was allowed to gather the herb. Today some men still take it to treat impotence and infertility although it’s unclear whether it actually improves these conditions.
Gelatin is obtained by boiling the skin, tendons, and ligaments of animals. As a result, it contains Protein, Collagen (a primary component of joints, Cartilage, and nails), and various Amino acids. It has long been a key ingredient for providing support for “jelled” desserts, salads, frozen drinks, and soft candies such as Gummi Bears. (In fact, the word gelatin is derived from the Latin “gelatus,” meaning stiff or frozen.)
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)
Popularly referred to as the body’s natural tranquilizer, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid produced in the brain. It acts as a Neurotransmitter–a chemical that fosters communication between nerve cells–and helps to keep stress-related nerve impulses at bay.
For years doctors were taught in medical school that gluten sensitivity and its severest form, celiac disease, were rare, identified mainly in children who were unable to absorb food. In photographs, youngsters with celiac disease looked like starving children because in fact they were starving, for nutrients. Once the diagnosis had been made and they’d been taken off all gluten grains–wheat, barley, rye, oats, kamut, and triticale–they rapidly regained weight and lived normal lives.
What Is It? Famed as an energy tonic in China since ancient times, Siberian ginseng only gained recognition in the West in the 1950s, when a Russian scientist (I. I. Brekhman) reported its notable stress-repelling powers. Healthy men and women taking the herb were found to better endure physical strain, resist disease, and perform tests […]
From the resin of the mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul) comes a remedy–gugulipid–that holds promise for lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels as effectively as certain prescription medications. Native to India, this tree is closely related to the plant that provides the fragrant myrrh described in the Bible.
Legend has it that in ancient times, a Chinese emperor was drinking some hot water when leaves from a nearby tea shrub (Camellia sinensis) dropped into his cup. He apparently liked the soothing drink that resulted from this chance event. And so began what is today a worldwide love affair with tea. It’s now second only to water as the most popular drink in the world.
Grape Seed Extract
As its name implies, grape seed extract is derived from the small seeds (and occasionally the skins) of red grapes–the same kind that are pressed to make wine. Used extensively in Europe, grape seed extract is rich in flavonoids, phytochemicals that have antioxidant properties some consider even greater than the old standbys vitamin C and vitamin E. Antioxidants are believed to prevent and control numerous ailments by safeguarding cells against the ravages of unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals.
Found growing in hot, swampy regions around the world, from India to the southern United States, the herb gotu kola (Centella asiatica) has a storied past.
The Iroquois and Cherokee were among the first of the American tribes in the eastern United States to use this small perennial plant (Hydrastis canadensis) medicinally. They harvested its fleshy underground stems (rhizomes) and roots and used them to treat a variety of infections and other complaints, from insect bites and digestive upset to eye and skin ailments. By the nineteenth century, healers began to refer to this native wildflower (which resembles a buttercup) as goldenseal because the cuplike scars on its bright yellow rhizomes resembled the wax seals then used to close envelopes and certify documents. The plant’s colorful roots also provided dye for clothing.
Glutathione is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is an important part of the body’s antioxidant defense system. Glutathione is composed of three different amino acids: cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. Vitamins B6 and riboflavin are critical for maintaining adequate levels of glutathione within the body.
Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid. “Nonessential” means that the body can create its own supply if the diet is lacking in glutamine-rich sources, such as poultry, fish, and legumes. Few people who are basically healthy and follow a balanced diet are deficient in this amino acid, one of the most abundant in the bloodstream. But there are some important exceptions.
Glucosamine, a sugar produced in the body and found in small amounts in foods, plays an important role in maintaining cartilage, the gel-like material that cushions joints. When taken as a dietary supplement, glucosamine may help to relieve the pain, stiffness, and swelling of osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disorder that affects 12% of the population, in which cartilage has worn down. Rheumatoid arthritis sufferers report improvements with glucosamine supplements as well, as do individuals with other types of joint injuries. Some 70 countries around the world sanction glucosamine as a treatment for individuals with mild to moderately severe osteoarthritis.
This popular herbal medicine is extracted from the fan-shaped leaves of the ancient ginkgo biloba tree, a species that has survived in China for more than 200 million years and now grows throughout the world. (The leaves are double, or bi-lobed; hence the name biloba.) Long used in traditional Chinese medicine, it is only in the last few decades that the medicinal uses for the herb have been studied in the West.
Revered around the world for its pungent taste, ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a natural spice that is also widely prized for its medicinal properties. Since ancient times, traditional healers in a diverse array of cultures have used this plant primarily to help settle upset stomachs. Chinese herbalists have relied on ginger as a medicine and flavoring for more than 2,500 years. The early Greeks mixed it into breads (hence the first gingerbread), and North American colonists sipped nausea-quelling ginger beer, the precursor of modern ginger ale. Today, many cultures continue to rely on ginger for controlling nausea and also for reducing inflammation.
Along with its well-earned reputation for discouraging friends and repelling potential lovers, this powerful herb has a storied culinary and medical history. Egyptian pyramid builders took it for strength and endurance. Medieval healers recommended it as protection against supernatural forces–vampires in particular. The French scientist Louis Pasteur investigated its antibacterial properties, and doctors in the two World Wars treated battle wounds with garlic juice when other drugs were unavailable. Most recently, garlic has been touted for heart health as well.
The herb Garcinia cambogia, a diminutive purple fruit native to India and southeast Asia, has garnered a lot of attention as a popular natural weight loss aid. The reason is that the rind of the pumpkinlike fruit is rich in a substance called hydroxycitric acid, or HCA, closely related to the citric acid found in grapefruits and oranges.