Anxiety Disorders: Supplements Not Likely To Be Effective

It is not possible to review all compounds that, at one time or another, have been tried to treat symptoms of anxiety and have not shown to be effective, or lack sufficient rationale about how they may affect brain action to promote sleep. However, some of these compounds are sometimes marketed as anxiolytics, despite the lack of evidence of efficacy. Clinicians who seek to practice in the area of naturopathic psychopharmacology should be aware of compounds that continue to be propagated despite evidence to the contrary. GABA As discussed in site, GABA is a major neurotransmitter in the central nervous system that is ubiquitous and affects the firing of all neurons by increasing membrane polarization. Most GABA receptors are ionotropic and regulate the influx of chloride into the cell. As chloride levels increase in the cell, the negative charge also increases, and the cell becomes more and more difficult to stimulate. A number of medications target GABA neurotransmission and have been shown to be effective in treating mood disturbance (especially mania and agitation), anxiety, and tics. Consequently, naturopaths sometimes recommend GABA supplementation, and various forms of GABA tablets and capsules are available Read more […]

Herbs for functional menorrhagia

Herbs for functional menorrhagia are chosen from the following categories. • Herbs which affect uterine tone and regulate uterine bleeding: the uterine anti-haemorrhagics, uterine tonics and emmenogogues. • Herbs which have diverse ‘systemic’ effects, and which improve the overall vitality or constitutional state of the woman: the female tonic herbs and the Liver herbs which reduce bleeding by clearing Heat and (often) aiding oestrogen clearance. Uterine anti-haemorrhagics Herbalists refer to anti-haemorrhagics as being Drying — in fact one of the ways to tell if a herb has an astringent effect is to see whether it has the typical drying and puckering sensation in the mouth. This ‘astringent’ effect is caused by tannins, but tannins are not responsible for the effects on the uterus because they are not absorbed from the gut. The uterine anti-haemorrhagics usually contain the tannins characteristic of most herbal astringents, in addition to other (non-tannin) constituents, primarily flavonoids and saponins which regulate bleeding. Some of these effects are quite complex, and not all of them are understood. They are discussed in greater detail in the section on uterine anti-haemorrhagics herbs in site. Uterine Read more […]

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma Lucidum)

Medical Uses Reishi mushroom is used to support the immune system, usually for prevention and long-term use. It may lower blood sugar levels. Historical Uses Historically in China and Japan, the reishi mushroom has been called “the mushroom of immortality” because of its medicinal properties, which stimulate the immune system. Growth This fungus is a member of the Ganoderma family of fungi. Parts used • Fruiting body • Mycelium Major Chemical Compounds • Polysaccharides Reishi Mushroom: Clinical Uses Reishi mushroom is used to support the immune system, usually for prevention and long-term use. It may lower blood glucose levels. Mechanism of Action Polysaccharides bind to specialized receptor sites on macrophages and natural killer cells, which send out chemical signals to fight off infection. Reishi Mushroom: Dosage Crude dried mushroom: 1.5 to 9 grams daily by mouth. Reishi powder: 1 to 1.5 grams daily by mouth. Reishi tincture: 1 mL daily by mouth (Natural Medicines, 2000). Side Effects Prolonged use of reishi mushroom (more than 3 months) has resulted in infrequent reports of dry mouth and stomach upset. It may prolong bleeding times. Contraindications • None are known. Herb-Drug Read more […]

Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)

Medical Uses Green tea is used as an antioxidant, for its anticancer effects, and for its effects as a sunscreen protection. Historical Uses Green tea was first used by Buddhists in China and India and during meditation ceremonies in Japan. Traditional Chinese medicine recommends green tea “to prolong life”). Growth This herb comes from a small, native Chinese evergreen tree with green pointy leaves. It is grown primarily in China, India, and Japan. Part Used • Fresh leaves Green tea comes from the fresh leaf, lightly steamed to avoid oxidation of the polyphe-nol components, in contrast to black tea,which is allowed to oxidize. Major Chemical Compounds • Polyphenols 8 to 12 percent • Flavonoids (such as epigallo catechin gallate) • Tannins • Quercetin • Alkaloids (such as caffeine) Green Tea: Clinical Uses Green tea is used as an antioxidant, for its anticancer effects, and for its effects as a sunscreen protection. Mechanism of Action Catechins have an antioxidant role in the prevention of certain cancers. Polyphenols have antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic effects. Green Tea: Dosage Normal consumption in Japan is 3 cups per day with meals. Use 1 teaspoon of green tea leaves Read more […]

Ginseng (Panax Ginseng)

Medical Uses Ginseng is used as an adaptogenic (for stress), an anti-fatigue agent, an anti-stress agent, and a tonic. Historical Uses Ginseng has been used medicinally in Asia for more than 5000 years. It is known as the ruler of tonic herbs. It is also known as “root of man.” Growth This perennial plant is indigenous to China and is cultivated in many countries. Ginseng: Part Used • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Triterpenoid saponins, especially ginsenosides. Ginseng: Clinical Uses Ginseng is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization for use as an adaptogenic (for stress), an anti-fatigue agent, an anti-stress agent, and a tonic. In Germany, ginseng may be labeled as an aid to convalescence and a tonic to treat fatigue, reduced work capacity, and poor concentration. Mechanism of Action Triterpenoid saponins are believed to help the body build vitality, resist stress, and overcome disease. Ginseng inhibits platelet aggregation by inhibiting thromboxane A2 production. Ginsenosides may act on the pituitary gland, not the adrenal glands. The pituitary secretes corticosteroids indirectly through the release of adrenocorticotrophic hormone and also stimulates nerve fibers Read more […]

Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba)

Medical Uses Ginkgo is used for circulation problems, Alzheimer’s disease, difficulties with memory, ringing in the ears, headaches, and dizziness. Ginkgo biloba is licensed in Germany for treating: cerebral dysfunction with difficulties in memory, dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), headaches, emotional instability with anxiety, and intermittent claudication. Historical Uses Legend has it that Chinese monks saved the ginkgo tree from extinction by growing it in monastery gardens. Growth The ginkgo is the oldest known living tree in the world. It is not difficult to grow, and ginkgo trees can be found in many city areas in the United States, including Central Park in New York City. The trees are able to withstand pollution and disease. Their leaves turn yellow in the fall. Ginkgo: Part Used • Dried leaves Major Chemical Compounds • Diterpenes known as ginkgolides, sesquiterpene bilobalide, quercetin Ginkgo: Clinical Uses Ginkgo is used for peripheral vascular disease, such as intermittent claudication and cerebral insufficiency. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization. Ginkgo biloba is licensed in Germany for treating cerebral dysfunction with difficulties Read more […]

Ginger (Zingiber Officinale)

Medical Uses Ginger is used for nausea and vomiting, motion sickness, and inflammation. It may help to prevent cancer. Historical Uses Greek bakers imported ginger from the Orient to make gingerbread. Spanish mariners brought ginger to the New World. Growth Ginger is cultivated in tropical climates. Ginger: Part Used • The knotted and branched rhizome (an underground stem) called the root. Major Chemical Compounds • Volatile oils, particularly zingiberene, bisabolene, gingerols, and shogaols • Niacin • Vitamin A Ginger: Clinical Uses Ginger is used for nausea and vomiting, motion sickness, and inflammation. It also has anticancer effects. Ginger has been shown to relieve nausea and vomiting during pregnancy without adverse effects. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization (WHO) for “prevention of motion sickness.” WHO also has approved ginger for postoperative nausea, pernicious vomiting in pregnancy, and seasickness, whereas the German Commission E approved ginger only for dyspepsia and does not recommend its use during pregnancy. Mechanism of Action Ginger does not influence the inner ear or the oculomotor system; apparently it exerts its antiemetic effect Read more […]

Garlic (Allium sativum)

Medical Uses Garlic is used for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infections, and cancer prevention. Historical Uses Called the “stinking rose,” garlic has been used by the Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and native North Americans to heal many ailments. In the early 1900s, Dr. W Minuchin, a physician who was interested in the effects of garlic, performed clinical trials that showed its usefulness in treating tuberculosis, lupus, diphtheria, and infections. Growth Plant garlic cloves in the spring, about 2 inches deep and 6 inches apart, in well-drained soil. Planting garlic around vegetable plants helps to repel insects; planting it around fruit and nut trees helps to repel moles. Harvest the garlic when the top of the plant dies. Garlic: Part used • Bulb Major Chemical Compounds • Allicin • Ajoene • Selenium • Saponins • Fructans • Potassium • Thiamine • Calcium • Magnesium • Iron • Phosphorus • Zinc Garlic: Clinical Uses Garlic is used for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, infection, and cancer prevention. It is approved by the German Commission E and the World Health Organization for hyperlipidemia and atherosclerotic vascular changes. Read more […]

Feverfew (Tanacetum Parthenium)

Clinical Uses Feverfew is used to prevent and treat migraine headaches. Historical Uses Traditionally, feverfew was used to manage labor pains, to reduce fevers, and to repel insects. Growth Feverfew is a member of the daisy family and may be grown in herb gardens in the spring. The plant prefers dry soil and sun. Feverfew: Part Used • Leaves Major Chemical Compounds • Sesquiterpene lactones, primarily parthenolide Feverfew: Clinical Uses Feverfew is used to prevent migraine headaches and also to treat migraine headaches. Mechanism of Action The mechanism by which feverfew works is not fully understood. It may act like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) by interfering with the first step of thromboxane synthesis (inhibiting prostaglandin biosynthesis), but it differs from salicylates in that it does not inhibit cyclo-oxygenation by prostaglandin synthase. Feverfew inhibits serotonin release from platelets and polymor-phonuclear leukocyte granules, which benefits patients with migraines or arthritis (The Lawrence Review of Natural Products, 1994). It has shown antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects in animals. Feverfew: Dosage To be effective at preventing migraines, the parthenolide Read more […]

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

Medical Uses Comfrey is used externally for superficial wounds, sore breasts, and hemorrhoids. Historical Uses In folklore, comfrey was used for healing gastric ulcers and reducing the inflammation around fractures. It is also known as knitbone. Growth Comfrey is a perennial plant that grows to about 2 to 4 feet high. It has huge, broad, hairy leaves and a small, bell-shaped flower. Comfrey: Parts Used • Leaves • Root Major Chemical Compounds • Allantoin • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (more in the roots) • Mucilage • Tannins Comfrey: Clinical Uses Comfrey is used externally for superficial wounds, sore breasts, and hemorrhoids. Mechanism of Action AUantoin promotes cell proliferation, reduces inflammation, and controls bleeding. Its astringent properties help to heal hemorrhoids. Comfrey is unsafe when used internally. Comfrey: Dosage External Use Only Comfrey may be used externally up to three times daily. It may be applied to the skin in a compress, poultice, or ointment. Do not use for more than 10 days, and do not exceed 100 μg of pyrrolizidine alkaloids each day (Natural Medicines, 2000). Side Effects Comfrey may cause veno-occlusive disease and hepatotoxicity and may have Read more […]