April 8, 2011

Sea Buckthorn

Latin Name
Hippophae rhamnoides L.

Family
Elaeagnaceae

Common Names
Sea buckthorn, Siberian pineapple, Sea Berry, Sandthorn or Swallowthorn

Habitat
It is native from northwestern Europe, through central Asia to the Altai Mountains to western and northern China and the northern Himalayas.

Historic Uses
  • Used in ancient Greece as a fodder for horses to promote weight gain and a shiny coat. In fact, the generic Latin name "Hippophae" literally translates to "shiny horse".
  • Sea buckthorn has been used for centuries in both Europe and Asia as food; and for its pharmaceutical properties.
  • Anecdotal reports indicate sea buckthorn was used in ancient times to:
  • Lower fever, reduce inflammation, counteract toxicity and abscesses, and clean the lungs.
  • Treat colds and coughs.
  • Treat tumours and growths, especially of the stomach and the oesophagus.
Current Uses

Functional Food

  • Juice from sea buckthorn berries is a common drink in many parts of Asia and Europe. The juice is very high in protein, vitamins C and E, and organic acids.
  • The leaves, either fresh or dried, can be steeped to yield a nutritional tea.
  • The leaves, young branches and fruit pulp can be used as animal fodder.

Medicinal
  • Topical application of sea buckthorn oil has been reported for skin therapy including sun, heat, chemical and radiation burns, eczema and poorly healing wounds. Russian cosmonauts used sea buckthorn cream for protection from cosmic radiation.
  • Oil from the sea buckthorn fruit is rich in vitamin E, carotenoids, phytosterols and essential fatty acids, all of which have beneficial medicinal properties for the treatment of internal and topical maladies.
Agronomic and Environmental
  • Sea buckthorn is a remarkably hardy bush that rapidly develops an extensive root system capable of fixing nitrogen. Thus, it is suitable for growth on marginal soils, eventually improving them to where they can support the growth of other plants. It is quite tolerant of salt-spray adjacent to highways. Sea buckthorn has been used for:
  • Soil erosion control and land reclamation projects
  • Wildlife habitat enhancement (figure 1) and farm stand protection
  • Ornamental bushes

April 5, 2011

Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto is a pretty popular fruit extract that is commonly used for BPH cure. Contrary to popular belief, the Saw Palmetto is not a fruit in itself. It is an extract of the fruit Serenoa Repens. The extract is very rich in fatty acids and phytosterols and has been used for ages in traditional, eclectic and alternative medicine for a variety of ailments.

In this article we'll take a look at the benefits offered by this natural fruit extract and also its side effect profile.

History Of The Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto has been an active ingredient of several traditional medicines. The aboriginal Americans used this entire fruit and its extract as food and also for treatment of a variety of urinary and reproductive ailments. The extract was also very popular with the Mayans. They drank the fruit extract as an energy tonic. The Seminoles used the Saw Palmetto as an expectorant and antiseptic.

Benefits Of Saw Palmetto

Saw Palmetto ingredients have excellent broncho-dilation and mucous properties. They prevent irritation of mucous tissues and also keep the bronchial tubes dilated. Irritative cough, chronic bacterial cough, whooping cough, laryngitis, acute catarrh, asthma, tubercular laryngitis and cough of phthisis pulmonalis are some of the pulmonary disease that this herbal extract can provide relief from.

It has a positive impact on the digestive organs and boosts up appetite, digestion and nutrient absorption in the body. The most prominent effect that the extract shows is on the prostate gland and sexual organs.

Effect On The Prostate

Before we take a look at the beneficial effects of the Saw Palmetto on the prostate, we must understand the complications of the prostate. Te prostate gland is a walnut sized glad that secrets a seminal fluid to nourish the semen in males. The urethra runs through the prostate and when the prostate enlarges in size, it constricts the urethra and disrupts urine flow. The urine that gets held back in the bladder leads to serious UTIs.

It would be worthwhile to mention that the testosterone hormone gets converted into dihydrotestosterone [DHT] by the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme and this DHT binds with androgen receptors to cause hyperplasia [inflammation] of the prostate. Ingredients in the Saw Palmetto extract act in two ways. They mimic the structure of DHT and block the androgen receptors, thereby preventing further inflation of the prostate. On the other hand they also inhibit the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme formation and eventually stop the conversion of testosterone into DHT [which is responsible for most prostate disorders].

Side Effects

There are no established side effects of this fruit extract. However in rare cases it has been seen that subjects on Saw Palmetto extract have inflated testicular organs. The exact reason for this is unknown, but some scientists believe that this extract might be responsible for enlarging the size of the organs that are below average size and reducing the size of those that are above average. This is just a belief and there are no hard facts to back up the claim.