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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Some Medicinal Herbs

As I continue to post about plants here are some herbs that could affect the brain or the central nervous system. Take note, despite their popularity in treatment of various diseases, there are also adverse effects in our system if not taken with extra caution.

EPHEDRA, an herb commonly referred to by its Chinese name ma huang. Ephedra plant contains about 1.5% total alkaloids and about 80% of which is ephedrine. The alkaloid’s vasoconstricting effect is good for nasal decongestant and as treatment for bronchial asthma. Combined with caffeine, there are some products that had been used to promote weight loss, athletic performance enhancer, and legal euphoriants or intoxicants.

Despite its uses, experts had cautioned some adverse effect of ephedra in the nervous system, ranging from nervousness and insomnia. Increase the risk of high blood pressure that can lead to stroke. Serious cardiovascular problem such as irregular heart beat and even heart attack. Could be used as Herbal Ecstasy as a substitute for MDMA (methylene dioxy methamphetamine) a hallucinogen drug.

GINKO BILOBA extract (GBE) is used primarily to treat cognitive deficiency symptoms, such as vertigo, tinnitus, headache, short-term memory loss, reduced vigilance and concentration, and confusion, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, or multiple clots in the blood vessels. Ginko Biloba acts as antioxidants necessary in preventing damage to free radicals. The biologically important free radicals are the oxygen species, super oxide, the hydroxyl radical, and the reactive nitrogen species. Each may play a significant physiological or pathophysiological role in the body. This plant is likewise useful in the treatment of peripheral vascular disorders and for males with erectile dysfunction, induced by taking of various antidepressant drugs.

However, consumption of unprocessed gingko leaves in any form, including teas, should be avoided. The presence of several potent allergens known as gingolic acids, remove during processing of GBE, are chemically related to urushiol. Urushiol is a toxic substance present in resin, or on the surface of plants genus Rhus, poison ivy and lacquer tree, from which a black Japanese lacquer is obtained. It is also found in the nut shell of
cashew fruit (Anacardium occidentale) and on the skin of the mango fruit. It causes an allergic skin rash on contact, known as urushiol-induced contact dermatitis.

ST. JOHN’S WORT is often simply called hypericum. This plant had gain wide acceptance for the treatment of depression, characterized by a number of subjective complains ranging from despondency and loss of interest to irritability, sleep and digestive disorders.

KAVA is intoxicating pepper used for treatment of nervous anxiety, stress and restlessness. It is frequently marketed as anxiolytic. Anxiolytic drugs are drugs having anti-anxiety effects. They are sometimes referred to as minor tranquilizers.

VALERIAN, the dried rhizome and roots are used as a minor tranquilizer and sleep aid.

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