Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Mucuna Pruriens (Velvet Bean) And its Uses in Herbal Medicine

Mucuna pruriens is a flowering annual shrub native to tropical and sub-tropical regions of South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The plant – which can grow vines of over 15 metres in length – produces small black seeds that have several alternative medicinal uses. The plant is also widely used in agriculture as a fallow crop, as it is leguminous (IE has nitrogen-fixing bacteria living on its roots that help to re-fertilise the soil).

Mucuna pruriens has many common names in many different languages. In English it is called Velvet Bean, Cowhage or Cowitch. Many of the plant’s names refer to the small rash-inducing hairs that grow on the seed pods. These hairs, which contain a compound called mucanain, can produce a severe and painful itch if they are allowed to come in contact with the skin. Others of the plant’s names refer to its psychoactive properties – in Portuguese, for example, it is known as ‘Mad Bean’.

The seeds of Mucuna pruriens contain a high concentration of the dopamine precursor levodopa. Dopamine is of course a neuro-transmitter associated with mood, and its concentration is known to have a direct effect on such physical processes as sexual desire, libido and function. For this reason, Mucuna pruriens extract has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine as an effective aphrodisiac. More recently, its extracts have received attention as a possible solution to treat the symptoms of nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, and in some parts of the world (notably India) it has already been used to treat this condition for some time.

The seeds also contain small amounts of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is also responsible for affecting mood. It is therefore thought that Mucuna pruriens has mild anti-depressant properties.

Whilst the plant grows wild in many tropical and subtropical regions, and its seeds are therefore quite widely available, it is very important that people only take Mucana pruriens extract that has been produced by skilled herbalists or approved pharmaceutical and naturaceutical laboratories, made to the correct dosage and concentration. The active ingredient levodopa can be toxic in large quantities, and it is therefore not recommended that people self-medicate using its extract.

M. pruriens extract is not commonly sold on its own, but normally forms part of a blend of herbal extracts and is used in many different areas of herbal medicine. Its chief uses are as an aphrodisiac, male libido enhancer and male fertility enhancer, though due to its effect on dopamine levels, it is also commonly found in products designed to help people relax and products designed to help naturally promote healthy eye-sight

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We provide a wide range of Herbal Remedies for general health, wellbeing, fitness and vitality, and specialise in providing products to help you achieve and maintain a full and satisfying sex life. Many of our products are formulated using the most powerfully effective aphrodisiacs, pleasure and performance enhancers provided by nature. For more details, visit our Herbal Remedies online store.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Epimedium (Horny Goat Weed) Species, Icariin, and Their Use as Aphrodisiacs

Epimiedium is a genus of some sixty species of small flowering herbs, most of which are native to China and East Asia, although some species grow as far away as Europe. The plants are often colloquially known as Horny Goat Weed, Barrenwort, or by their Chinese name Yin Yang Huo.

Epimedium species have been used for centuries in Chinese herbal medicine as aphrodisiacs. Legend has it that a goatherd noticed that his animals became more amorous after eating the plant, hence the tongue-in-cheek colloquial name of Horny Goat Weed.

Today it is known that the active ingredient of Epimedium is the flavonol icariin, which has been shown to have a similar action to the commercial synthetic chemical sildenafil; more popularly known by the brand name Viagra.

All of the sixty species of Epimiedium contain icariin in some quantity, but the two species most commonly cultivated for the purposes of producing extract are E. grandiflorum and E. sagittatum, both of which are thought to contain the highest natural quantities of icariin.

Today, Horny Goat Weed continues to gain in popularity as an herbal alternative to Viagra. It is sold in health food shops and online in strengths ranging from 5% to 60%; strengths above 60% are usually reserved for laboratory use. It is sold as a dry herb, in tablet form or capsule form, and is regularly blended with other herbs such as Tribulus terrestris and Ginkgo biloba.

Icariin works by boosting the body’s natural production of nitric oxide in the tissue of the penis, leading to increased blood flow and blood pressure within the penile tissue, which in turn causes a larger and harder erection than would otherwise be achieved. The similarity of its action to the synthetic compound Viagra has been repeatedly demonstrated in many animal experiments, and it therefore appears that the claims made about Epimedium extract’s aphrodisiac and erectile enhancing properties are quite justified.

There are no reported side-effects to consuming Epimedium extract

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We provide a wide range of Herbal Remedies for general health, wellbeing, fitness and vitality, and specialise in providing products to help you achieve and maintain a full and satisfying sex life. Many of our products are formulated using the most powerfully effective aphrodisiacs, pleasure and performance enhancers provided by nature. For more details, visit our Herbal Remedies online store.

Panax Ginseng The Plant and its Uses

Panax ginseng (sometimes called Ginnsuu in China) is one of eleven species of slow-growing perennial herbs in the genus Panax, and is native to North Eastern mainland Asia, growing in the cool climates of northern China and eastern Siberia. Its English name ginseng comes from the simplified Chinese name for the plant, which referred to the thick, fleshy, forked roots that are characteristic of members of this genus. Interestingly, the genus name Panax is derived from the same Greek root as the word panacea, meaning cure-all, as it was already well known for its uses in Chinese medicine when the plant was first classified by the botanist (and father of the modern classification system) Carolus Linnaeus.

In traditional Chinese medicine Panax ginseng was used as a revitalising tonic, and was thought to help the body recover after an illness and improve circulation. It was also used as an aphrodisiac, as was its close relative Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng) in traditional Native-American medicine.
More recent studies have isolated the active phytochemicals of ginseng and other members of the Panax genus, and these chemicals are now referred to as ginsenosides. These ginsenosides are what herbalists call ‘adaptogens’. Adaptogens are defined as natural herbal products that are purported to increase the body's resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue. In classical and traditional herbal medicine, these ‘adaptogens’ were known as tonics, restoratives, rasayanas (in Ayurvedic practice) and qi (in traditional Chinese practice).

Ginseng is today widely used for a variety of medicinal purposes, and several studies involving animal subjects (and fewer studies involving human subjects) have provided compelling evidence for its efficacy. Aside from its use as an adaptogen, it is also used to enhance libido in both men and women, forms part of many herbal formulations to promote normal erectile function in men, and is often found in natural fertility products too. It appears that the ginsenoside chemicals have a direct action upon the gonad tissue of both men and women, stimulating blood flow to these organs, which results in increased libido, sensitivity and (in men) improved function. Although the precise mechanisms by which the chemicals act are not yet clearly understood, animal studies have consistently shown that consumption of Panax ginseng increases mating behaviour.

Pamax ginseng is usually sold in one of four forms, all of which use the root of the plant. Although the leaves of the plant are sometimes used, the levels of ginsenosides in the leaves are too low to have much effect. Fresh Ginseng is simply the fresh, raw product. White Ginseng is the dried root of the plant, which is harvested after four to six years of growth. Red Ginseng is the steam-cured or boiled root of the plant, which is harvested after six years of growth. Finally, sun Ginseng is white Ginseng that is subsequently boiled at a high temperature (120C), and is thought to contain the highest concentration of ginsenosides.

It is recommended that people who are taking heart medication, or medications for either low or high blood pressure avoid consuming ginseng, as it may interfere with these medications and cause complications. It is also advised that diabetics taking insulin do not take ginseng, as it may have an effect on blood sugar levels. Side effects are reportedly rare, but in some cases ginseng may cause mild nausea, headaches and sleeping difficulties.

Panax ginseng continues to grow in popularity and is being tested in more and more areas of research. It is widely available from health food stores, herbalists and online stores.


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We provide a wide range of Herbal Remedies for general health, wellbeing, fitness and vitality, and specialise in providing products to help you achieve and maintain a full and satisfying sex life. Many of our products are formulated using the most powerfully effective aphrodisiacs, pleasure and performance enhancers provided by nature. For more details, visit our Herbal Remedies online store.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Tribulus Terrestris And Its Use As A Testosterone Booster

In this article I will discuss the plant Tribulus terrestris and its use as a dietary supplement to boost production of the male sex hormone testosterone. I will briefly cover the plant’s habitat and the history of its use, as well as discuss the evidence for its effectiveness.

Tribulus terrestris is a small, herbaceous, flowering perennial native to the warmer temperate and subtropical regions of Southern Europe, South Asia, Africa and Northern Australasia. A hardy little plant, it has become extensively naturalised in the Americas, and in some states is considered to be an invasive weed.

Since the 1970’s Tribulus terrestris has been gaining in popularity in the West as a dietary supplement, taken to boost production of the male sex and growth hormone, testosterone. It is thought that is was first used for this purpose in Eastern Europe, and became well known in the West after the American strong-man Jeffrey Petermann sang its praises.

Several independent studies have suggested that consumption of Tribulus terrestris can increase testosterone levels. Most studies have involved mice, rats, rabbits and primates however, and the few studies that have so far involved humans have not provided conclusive data, merely suggestive results. Whilst the jury remains out on the efficacy of Tribulus terrestris as a testosterone booster in humans, it nevertheless continues to grow in popularity and its use and availability are becoming more widespread. Its extract forms part of many herbal products, used to treat conditions as varied as erectile dysfunction, hair loss, and low libido. Its primary uses are as a bodybuilding supplement and male libido enhancer.

Despite only being used in the West since the ‘70’s, it has a much longer pedigree in both traditional Chinese and traditional Indian medicine. The Chinese name for the herb is Bai Ji Li, and in Sanskrit it is called Gokshura. In both systems it was used as an aphrodisiac, and was widely used in the traditional Indian Ayurvedic practice.

The side-effects of taking Tribulus extract are reported to be almost non-existent. Some people may experience a mild stomach ache, but in most cases this can be eliminated by simply taking the product with, or shortly after, food. Tribulus terrestris is widely available from health food shops and online stores.


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Tribulus Terrestris has been used, along with other herbs, as a succesful remedy for premature ejaculation for centuries. Visit the link to find out more.

Saw Palmetto and Other Herbs Used to Prevent Hair Loss

Hair loss and premature balding affect millions of people worldwide. For many losing one's hair is simply an acceptable part of growing older, and is not seen as a problem. Many others however find it a deeply distressing and upsetting experience, and hair loss - particularly premature hair loss - is frequently linked to depressive disorders, that in some cases can be quite severe and debilitating.

There are many natural and synthetic remedies available that can help to arrest or reverse hair loss, some of which are more effective than others. In this article we will examine some of the more popular herbal and natural remedies, and offer reasons as to why choosing a natural, herbal product is often preferable to using a synthetic one.

Herbs and their extracts hold an obvious appeal for many people because in most cases they are found to support the body's natural healing mechanisms to target the cause of the problem, rather than merely tackling the symptoms. It would be disingenuous to attempt to present herbal remedies as a miracle cure-all for all sufferers, but there is mounting evidence to support the view that some herbal remedies really are helpful and effective.

Let us briefly examine the cases put forward for some of the more popular herbal remedies, to better assess whether they really can help.

Ginkgo biloba - this popular herb is thought to improve blood circulation to all areas by reducing the constriction of capillaries. Increasing the flow of blood to the scalp ensures that more nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the hair follicles, thus reducing hair loss caused by a lack of nutrients. The recommended dose is 120-160mg of dry extract each day, spread over three doses.

Green tea (Camellia sinesis) - catechins found in green tea may inhibit the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase that converts testosterone into hair-unfriendly dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is believed to be effective in preventing and treating normal male-pattern baldness. You should drink several cups of green tea each day or take it in capsule form as instructed by the manufacturer.

He Shou Wu (Polygonum multiflorum) - also known as Fo-Ti. This Chinese herb has traditionally been used to reduce hair loss. It is found in many commercial preparations, or in infusion and capsule forms.

Pygeum (Pygeum africanum) - derived from the bark of an evergreen shrub, it works in a similar way to green tea. It is widely used to treat prostate problems and male pattern baldness. Users should take 60-500mg per day in pill or capsule form.

Saw palmetto (Seranoa repens) - this treatment is becoming increasingly popular for many men due to its multiple effects. It helps to protect the prostate gland, slow hair loss and even encourage hair re-growth. One of the key ingredients in our own product, Hair Again, it also forms the core element of many other commercially prepared hair loss treatments too. The recommended dose is 160mg twice each day.

Stinging nettle (Urtica diocia) - has long been favoured as a means of preventing hair loss due to its ability to block the conversion of testosterone into DHT. It can be taken in pill or capsule form with an optimum dose of 50-100mg per day. It is particularly effective when combined with pygeum and Saw palmetto,

We provide a wide range of Herbal Remedies for general health, wellbeing, fitness and vitality, and specialise in providing products to help you achieve and maintain a full and satisfying sex life. Many of our products are formulated using the most powerfully effective aphrodisiacs, pleasure and performance enhancers provided by nature. For more details, visit our Herbal Remedies online store.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Eurycoma Longifolia -Tongkat Ali

Tongkat Ali (b. Eurycoma longifolia) is a shrub-like herb native to Malaysia and Indonesia that has been used for centuries as a natural aphrodisiac. It is also acclaimed as an anti-malarial and anti-bacterial agent in these regions, but in recent years has become increasingly popular here in the West because of its libido-enhancing properties.

Experiments on male rats have shown that consumption of the herb increases their sexual arousal and behavior, as well as increasing their testosterone levels and raising their sperm count. Because of Tongkat Ali's known effect upon testosterone production, extracts of the herb have been used in some natural body building supplements. More recently, however, it has been effectively marketed as a natural libido enhancer and aphrodisiac, helping many middle aged men to regain their more youthful appetites.

Tongkat Ali is thought to have two distinct effects upon testosterone levels. Firstly, it raises the body's natural production of the hormone, increasing its levels. Secondly, it reduces the rate at which the hormone is metabolized by blocking the enzyme responsible for this. As men approach middle age and beyond, their testosterone levels naturally decrease as their bodies produce less of the hormone, and more of the enzyme responsible for metabolizing it. This leads to the natural decline in sexual desire and performance that most men experience as they reach this period in their lives, and which of course should not be viewed as a problem. However, for those men who wish to continue an active sex life, Tongkat Ali can provide a safe, natural and relatively cheap solution.

Increasing the levels of testosterone improves both libido and stamina, and anecdotal evidence even suggests that it can increase penis size by stimulating blood flow to the erectile tissue. It should however be stressed that no peer-reviewed studies have been performed upon the reported effects of Tongkat Ali upon penis size.

It is vitally important that you only buy quality Tongkat Ali extract, as at low concentrations it will have little or no effect. Many herbalists and Chinese medicine shops sell the product as a powder, but in this form you have little idea of its concentration, not to mention its provenance. It is worth noting that Tongkat Ali is now a protected plant in Malaysia, and harvesting and production there is now illegal. Any supplier who therefore tells you that their Tongkat comes from Malaysia is either being less than honest or obtaining their product from an illegal -- and thus unregulated -- source and should be avoided. Legal Tongkat Ali will be harvested from Indonesian plantations or grown by horticulturists in Western countries. Most suppliers use the latter.

Most providers sell an extract in tablet form that is made in ratios of between 20:1 (I.E. 20kg of plant used to produce 1kg of extract) and 100:1. Much higher concentrations than this are considered both unnecessary and unadvisable -- after all, many of the unpleasant effects of male adolescence (irritability and mood-swings, etc) are attributed to an excess of testosterone sloshing about one's system.

We provide a wide range of Herbal Remedies for general health, wellbeing, fitness and vitality, and specialise in providing products to help you achieve and maintain a full and satisfying sex life. Many of our products are formulated using the most powerfully effective aphrodisiacs, pleasure and performance enhancers provided by nature. For more details, visit our Herbal Remedies online store.

Welcome!

Welcome to my new blog, Healthy Herbal Living. The purpose of this blog is to examine the plants and extracts used to treat common ailments and assess whether the claims made by herbalists can always be trusted.

We all know that herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years, and that many modern synthetic medicines have been developed as a result of isolating the active ingredients from plants.

Herbal medicine is still referred to as complimentary medicine. This means that in most countries, herbal extracts can be sold without having to pass the often stringent requirements and assays that synthetic drugs must undergo before licensing. Nevertheless, many herbs and their extracts have been shown over centuries to have positive effects againt some conditions, and many herbal extracts are effective for a wide range of problems.

In this blog I will try to provide information about the herbs commonly used, such as their natural habitat, appearance, history of use, active chemicals and ailments they are used to treat.