Produced by the body, N-acetylcysteine (commonly called NAC) is a form of the amino acid cysteine. Because it enhances the production of the Enzyme glutathione, one of the body’s powerhouse antioxidants, NAC can both stave off disease and play an important role in boosting the immune system. Studies have shown that glutathione levels are often reduced in people with certain conditions related to the immune system.
Although you may never have heard of it, the organic sulfur compound known as MSM (short for methylsulfonylmethane) is contained in minute amounts in everyone’s blood and most foods. It’s unclear what role MSM plays in the complex chemistry of the human body, but some experts believe that, like other sulfur compounds, it’s a necessary building block for proteins, especially those found in the hair, muscles, and connective tissue of the joints and skin. Sulfur also is found in insulin and bile acid.
Maca is a Peruvian vegetable exported in concentrated form as an energy tonic, aphrodisiac, and fertility-enhancer. Used for thousands of years by the native peoples of Peru, maca is cultivated for the nutritional and medicinal value of its fleshy root. It’s grown in the harsh, barren high plateaus of the central Andes; few other plants–including corn–can prosper at such an elevation, nearly a mile up into the atmosphere.
Iron, a trace Mineral, supplies energy to every cell in the body. It is a key component of Hemoglobin, the blood’s oxygen-carrying pigment. Iron is also found in myoglobin, which supplies oxygen to muscles, and in compounds that keep the immune system strong. This mineral is critical to sharp mental functioning. Even slight deficiencies in iron can shorten attention span and make concentration difficult.
For centuries in the Far East, traditional healers have used a rare moss (Huperzia serrata) found in the colder regions of China to remedy fever and Inflammation. Only recently did scientists uncover a remarkable quality in a substance they isolated in the moss. Called huperzine A, the compound appears to have the power to sharpen the mind and potentially ward off the devastating effects of the memory-robbing disease known as Alzheimer’s, particularly in its earliest stages. Huperzine A has also been proposed for countering normal bouts of forgetfulness in the general population.
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.)
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.
Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are nondigestible dietary fibers that help to keep the stomach and bowels healthy. They do this by nourishing and promoting the naturally present, “friendly” bacteria (Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in particular) capable of warding off infection in the digestive system. Because of these properties FOS is considered a “prebiotic.” Quite popular in Japan, such prebiotics have just started to become available in the United States.
DMAE, or dimethylaminoethanol, is a compound found in high levels in anchovies and sardines. Small amounts of DMAE are also naturally produced in the human brain. Health-food outlets sell it in capsule form to “boost brain power.” While it probably won’t make you smarter, DMAE may play a role in treating memory lapses and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Some evidence suggests it may also play a beneficial role against the impulsive and disruptive behaviors caused by attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The modern name for the butterbur Herb comes from the use in early farming communities of Europe and North America of its large leaves to keep their butter fresh in warm weather. Butterbur leaves are among some of the largest in Europe, sometimes reaching three feet in diameter. Butterbur hails from the plant genus Petasites, which is derived from the Greek word petasos, a term used for the large felt hats worn by Greek fishermen.
Most medicinal preparations of buckthorn bark are made from the European buckthorn shrub, also known as black dogwood (Rhamnus frangula), which is native to Europe and western parts of Asia. The bark of the trunks and branches is dried and seasoned.
This grand perennial with its purplish flower head is native to southern Europe, northern Africa, and the Canary Islands. In the days of ancient Rome and Greece, Europeans began to cultivate artichoke as well. It is now grown commercially in North Africa. Although the flesh of the spike-tipped petals, called “bracts,” and the heart of the flower head are eaten as a delicacy, it is the plant’s large, lobed leaves and their extracts that are used medicinally.
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At WholeHealth Chicago, our passion is integrative medicine, which merges an array of clinically proven alternative therapies with cutting-edge advances in conventional medicine. We believe providing clear and detailed information about integrative medicine is a powerful tool that can help you maintain good health and also address any problems as they occur.
Native to Europe and the Middle East, during the past fifty years asparagus has grown so popular as a vegetable that farmers now grow it around the world. Before this, asparagus had a long history as an herbal medicine.
During the past decade, physician, teacher and overall health guru Dr. Deepak Chopra has been instrumental introducing the 5,000 year old Indian holistic medical system known as Ayurveda to the West. Ayurveda promotes significant lifestyle change, including diet, exercise, meditation and bodywork. In addition, a vast number of herbs, many used for millennia, are now being introduced by its practitioners.
Living things, from amoebas to rocket scientists, operate electrically. Each of our cells generates its own tiny amount of (wireless) electricity, but the most active part of our bodies–both electrically and chemically–is the brain.
Zinc is an essential trace mineral. Every cell in the body needs this nutrient and hundreds of body processes rely on it, from the immune system and the enzymes that produce DNA to the senses of taste and smell. Although the body does not produce zinc on its own, this mineral is readily available in drinking water and certain foods. Even so, a surprising number of adults fail to get enough of this mineral through their diet. Better food choices and a good multivitamin and mineral supplement can help compensate for such mild deficiencies.
Day by day, there’s probably no nutrient as actively involved in keeping your system running smoothly as vitamin B6. Technically an umbrella term used to describe three B vitamins (pyridoxine, pridoxal, pyridoxamine), vitamin B6 partakes in no fewer than 100 chemical reactions throughout the body. It functions primarily as a coenzyme, working along with other enzymes to speed up chemical reactions in cells.