Monday, November 30, 2009

Medicinal Properties of Bay Essential Oil and Liniment Recipe

Bay essential oil, Laurus nobilis, has a long and interesting history. It was known as Daphne to the Greeks because the nymph Daphne escaped the attentions of Apollo by being transformed into a bay tree. Heartbroken, Apollo, the God of Music and Poetry, took the tree as his emblem, hence the term "poet laureate" and "to gain one's laurels."

In addition, the Romans believed bay warded off both evil and infectious disease, and to this day in Europe you can still see bay leaf garlands hanging on doors.

Today, bay is used as a flavoring in foods, and is effective to combat infectious bacteria when used in a vaporizer. In perfumery, bay is sweet, pleasant, and slightly spicy, and blends well with bergamot, black pepper, clary sage, cypress, juniper, lavender, neroli, and rosemary, to name a few.

Medicinally, bay is attributed with antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, diaphoretic, digestant, and sedative properties.

Recommended Daily Dose:
Three times daily unless otherwise stated. Use for a maximum of two weeks, then take three weeks off to avoid accumulative toxicity. In adults, use 2 drops, three times a day. Externally, use up to 5 drops in a bath.

Liniment Blend:
30 drops bay essential oil
15 drops nutmeg oil
9 drops black pepper oil
1 cup peanut oil

Blend all oils together. Peanut oil can be replaced with another vegetable oil, such as sweet almond or grapeseed. However, peanut oil is preferred as it has a traditional reputation for effectively reducing the pain of arthritis and rheumatism.

Blend all oils together. Pour into a dark glass bottle and label. Massage directly into painful areas. Store in a cool place and use within 6 months.

Start! Walking Today!

Why Start! walking? Heart disease is a major killer in this country. But you can reduce your risk and start building optimum health by exercising for as little as 30 minutes a day (that's just one TV show, just half of your lunch break, just about the same amount of time it takes to go on a junk food run round-trip!).

That's why the American Heart Association launched Start!, a movement to get people moving, taking an active role in our health! Joining the Start! movement, and connecting with other members of the Start! community, is easy. When you visit the main website,, there are links to help you find a walking buddy, to message boards, and o walking paths in your area.

Follow the signs to better health! Use this link to find a walking path near you:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Elderberry Extract for Easing Influenza Symptoms

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) has been mentioned in health news quite a bit lately because of new research showing it may be effective with influenza. Clinical studies have "found that elderberry extracts can inhibit influenza a and b infections, and pre-clinical studies have shown antiviral effects," according to the American Botanical Council (ABC). [2]

A recent clinical pilot tested the effect of a proprietary slow-dissolve elderberry extract lozenge with flu-like symptoms and found, according to the study's author, that the proprietary extract "can rapidly relieve influenza-like symptoms." He further commented, as reported by ABC, that "the results suggest that the proprietary elderberry extract is superior to antiviral drugs in treating influenza-like symptoms and shortening the duration of illness."

>> To read the details of the study, visit the American Botanical Council website or click here:

1. King HF. Pilot clinical study on a proprietary elderberry extract: efficacy in addressing influenza symptoms. Online Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacokinetics. 2009;5: 32-43.
2. Garner-Wizard M. Review of pharmacology and clinical benefits of European elderberry. HerbClip. January 31, 2006 (No. 070752-297). Austin, TX: American Botanical Council. Review of Monograph. Sambucus nigra (elderberry). Altern Med Rev. 2005;10(1):51-55.

Roschek B Jr, Fink RC, McMichael MD, Li D, Alberte RS. Elderberry flavonoids bind to and prevent H1N1 infection in vitro. Phytochem. Jul 2009;70(10):1255-1261.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Federal Government Stimulus Money Funding New Herbal Research

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17, 2009, has about $5 billion (of a total of $787 billion) allocated for scientific and medical research. A handful of these studies involved research on herbs and herbal dietary supplements.

There are several interesting uses for herbal ingredients being researched with the aid provided by these federal grants. For example, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Jeevan Prasain, PhD, is testing whether metabolites in cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) can protect against bladder cancer. Researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor are studying the effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) root as a preventative of colorectal cancer. For the ginger study, Suzanna Zick, ND, MPH, and her team of 10 other researchers are using the $98,022 to hire a part- and full-time employee, creating 2 jobs (oral communication, October 21, 2009). Specifically, the supplemental grant will fund the analysis of a panel of inflammatory markers in the gut tissue of people at normal or high risk for developing colorectal cancer. The grant funds will be used to obtain supplies, rent equipment, and hire the personnel to run the inflammatory marker assay, according to Dr. Zick.

“If we didn’t have this stimulus grant, it wouldn’t make us as competitive for the next grant,” said Dr. Zick. “Bio-marker work is expensive.”

Dr. Zick also added, “Ginger is an up-and-coming herb in cancer prevention.” She further noted that the main use she and her colleagues are studying is the prevention of colorectal cancer, not cancer treatment, as in previous animal studies ginger was most effective if rats were given ginger before cancer started growing or at the very beginning. She also added that ginger may be effective against metastatic cancer as it has strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Another interesting study, taking place at the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, involves the possible inhibition of cancer cell proliferation by the constituents in American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, grown in Wisconsin, obtained from the Wisconsin Ginseng Board). The grant received by lead researcher Laura Murphy, PhD, will total $275,000 with $125,000 awarded the first year and $150,000 the second. The $125,000 will primarily be used for the salary of a new technician. This ginseng research team currently consists of 2 research technicians, and 1 undergraduate student whom is working for class credit. The researchers hope to further recruit 1 graduate student (whose stipend will have to be paid by the department of physiology) and 1 unpaid undergraduate intern.

In the research team’s research project they have found repeatedly that oral ginseng treatment helps the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin be more efficacious in decreasing human breast cancer tumor growth in nude mice. According to Dr. Murphy, there has been nothing published using animals or in humans related to this specific ginseng indication.

“But, it is very difficult to tease apart the mechanism of action,” said Dr. Murphy (e-mail, October 20, 2009). “The uniqueness of this project is that we recognize that ginseng is a virtual ‘drug store.’ Treating a mouse with a single ginsenoside or polysaccharide component does not tell you what ginseng will do.”

>>Read the full-length article here

By Kelly E. Lindner. This article was originally published in HerbalGram, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Botanical Council, in issue 85, ©2010.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Natural Support for Winter Moods

BY Dr. Arianna Staruch, ACHS Academic Dean

Wintertime blues are common for those of us living in the northern latitudes of the U.S., and they usually begin when the days get shorter, darker, and greyer. The clinical name is Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. It seems to be more common in women but more severe when it occurs in men. There may also be a genetic component, as with other forms of depression, that runs in families. Generally speaking, with SAD the changing levels of light impact the pineal gland and the production of both serotonin and melatonin, which may be connected to the development of depression in some people.

Symptoms of SAD may include any or all of the following:

  • Carbohydrate cravings, appetite changes, weight gain
  • Loss of energy, fatigue
  • Depression, hopelessness, anxiety
  • Increased sleepiness and sleeping
  • Loss of interest in activities and social withdrawal
  • Difficulty concentrating

SAD may increase the risk for a major depressive episode, which can lead to social withdrawal, work problems, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.

Since the cause of SAD seems to be a lack of light, it makes sense that adding light may address the underlying cause and provide support. A number of clinical studies have now shown the effectiveness of light therapy in the treatment of SAD. A light box delivering 2,000-10,000 lux for 30-120 minutes daily during the winter is typical.

In addition, different color temperatures of “full spectrum” light have been studied and the use of the light box both morning and evening seems to work best. Bright light seems to increase serotonin levels, so it is no surprise that light therapy has been shown to be as effective as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medications, which raise serotonin levels, in a number of studies.

>> To read the full article by Dr. Arianna Staruch, click here

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Help Support Your Kid's Health Naturally

Fall is all around. As the leaves change bright colors and the air turns crisp, winter bugs can sneak up on us*. And when someone in your family is sick, everyone suffers! You want to do something to help them, but what?

There are many natural remedies you can try to help support healthy immune function*. Here are some tips for parents and caregivers from ACHS adjunct instructor Deborah Halvorson, BA, Dip Aroma, RA, who says, “I've never used over-the-counter cold remedies with my kids, just herbs and essential oils, and when the colds start going around, my kids generally get over it much quicker than their friends and classmates.”

One of Deborah’s favorite cough recipes is vapor balm, which is a natural alternative to a VapoRub-type ointment. Here’s a recipe you can use to make vapor balm at home. The recipe has been adapted from Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art by Kathy Keville and Mindy Green.

Vapor Balm

1 cup Olive oil

3⁄4 oz. beeswax

1 1⁄2 tsp Eucalyptus (E. smithii) essential oil

1 tsp. Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) essential oil

1⁄4 tsp Thyme (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool) essential oil

Directions: For children 2-10 years old, use Eucalyptus smithii and Thyme linalool; for older children and adults, E. globulus or E. radiata and Thyme ct. thymol can be used. For children ages 1-2 years, the above recipe can adapted using only the Eucalyptus smithii and leaving out the peppermint and thyme oils.

Melt beeswax and olive oil in top of double boiler. Allow to cool a bit and add essential oils. Pour into clean containers, label, and date. To use, rub a small amount on the child's chest.

For cold or flu with a fever, Deborah recommends a combination of lemon (Citrus limonum) and marjoram (Origanum marjorana) essential oils. Lemon may help reduce the fever, and marjoram traditionally has been used for respiratory infections and to help with sleep. To use these essential oils, blend 10 drops of lemon with 5 drops of marjoram; then add 1 drop of the blend into a warm bath before bedtime or nap time, or use the blend in a nebulizing diffuser.

If you child is experiencing nasal congestion or sinus infection, you can use essential oils with steam inhalation. For children older than 5, use the ratio of 3-5 drops of essential oil to 6 cups of water. To make the inhalation, boil the water and pour into a bowl, and then add the essential oils. Have the child inhale the steam, and be sure to remind them to keep their eyes closed and their face 8-12 inches from the bowl.

To use steam inhalation with children younger than 5, do not have them directly inhale the steam. Rather, place the bowl in the room with the child, and the essential oils will disperse into the air through the steam.

Essential oils typically considered effective and safe for use with children include:

  • Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica): An expectorant that may strengthen the immune system and have a calming/sedative action.
  • Frankincense (Boswellia carteri): Traditionally an immune system stimulant that may also help with cough.
  • Manuka/New Zealand Tea Tree (Leptospermum scoparium): Traditionally used with bronchial congestion/bronchitis, sinus congestion/sinusitis, and has been shown to inhibit the growth of streptococcus (bacteria that cause strep throat) as well as bacteria that cause pneumonia. .
  • Marjoram (Origanum majorana): An expectorant that may be helpful for respiratory infections and sinusitis, and is thought to have a calming action.
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): Traditionally used with respiratory infections and sinusitis (may be stimulating; do not use before bedtime).
  • Peppermint (Mentha x piperita): Frequently used with sinusitis and bronchitis. *Should not be used with children younger than 2.

If your child is willing to drink tea, a warm tea with honey (no honey for children younger than 12 months) can be soothing and comforting. Deborah recommends lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) for use with fever and to help calm fussy children. For use with coughs and achiness, lemon balm can also be combined with peppermint and chamomile (Matricaria recutita).

For more information, visit Cold and Flu--Just for Kids

*Always see your primary care physician for diagnosis. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. For informational purposes only. Not intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.