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Medicinal uses of plants


1.1 Background Information


Medicinal plants are plants used as natural medicines. This practice has existed since prehistoric times. There are three ways in which plants
have been found useful in medicine.(1) First, they may be used directly as teas or in other extracted forms for their natural chemical constituents. (1) Second, they may be used as agents in the synthesis of drugs.(1) Finally, the organic molecules found in plants may be used as models for synthetic drugs.(1) Historically, the medicinal value of plants was tested by trial and error, as in the Doctrine of Signatures.(1) Modern approaches to determining the medicinal properties of plants involve collaborative efforts that can include ethnobotanists, anthropologists, pharmaceutical chemists, and physicians.(1) Many modern medicines had their origin in medicinal plants. Examples include aspirin from willow bark (Salix spp.), digitalis from foxglove (Digitali purpurea), and vinblastine from (Vinca rosea) for the treatment of childhood leukemia.(1) There are thousands of Medicinal Plants, so I found the three that I found most interesting to write about.

1.2 Aloe Vera


Aloe Vera is a succulent, or water-retaining plant that grows to about 30-40 inches tall. The plant is green in color.(4) There are over 200 types of Aloe in the world. (2) Aloe Vera is one of the most common medicinal plants known to the public populations, as it appears in many commonly used foods and body care products. As Aloe posses many curative properties it's often called Medicinal Aloe which believed to have originated in Northern Africa.(3) Because of it's therapeutic components Aloe Vera is used in several medical conditions-both external and internal.(3)

As one of the oldest recognized botanicals with benefits for the skin, Aloe Vera gel has long been used for for its natural soothing, cooling, and moisturizing abilities.(2) When applied to your skin it can soothe minor burns, comfort and moisturize stressed skin, and even help aid in your skin’s ability to regenerate itself.(2)

You have probably appreciated pure Aloe Vera gel on your skin when you got a minor sunburn or other skin irritation.(2) But, did you know drinking Aloe Vera juice provides your body with 200 health promoting compounds, including 20 minerals, 18 Amino acids and 12 vitamins? (2) Early records of Aloe Vera's medicinal use appear in the Ebers Papyrus from 16th century BC, in both Dioscorides' De Materia Medica and Pliny the Elder's Natural History written in the mid-first century CE along with the Juliana Anicia Codex produced in 512 CE. (3)

Aloe has been used for many health conditions. Aloe Vera has been used and studied by scientists for the following health problems: (4)aloe-vera-plant.jpg
  • Constipation
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Burns
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Psoriasis vulgaris
  • Dandruff
  • Cancer prevention
  • Canker sores
  • Dermatitis
  • Wound healing
  • Skin burns/ulcers
  • Dry skin
  • Diabetes (type 2)

Popular Aloe Vera Products:
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For more information on Aloe Vera go to: http://www.whyaloevera.com/


1.3 Ginger



Ginger is a knotted, thick, beige underground stem, called a rhizome.(6) The stem sticks up about 12 inches above ground with long, narrow, ribbed, green leaves, and white or yellowish-green flowers.(6) Ginger is one of the ancient, revered medicines of India and Asia.
Volatile oils in ginger are what cause the taste, smell, and medical effectiveness. About 1-4% of ginger is oil.(7) Ginger contains pungent constituents, shogaols and gingerols, which make it effective for relieving vomiting and nausea.(7)

Ginger has an ability to combat a variety of diseases and conditions is due in part to its impact on excessive inflammation, which is a significant underlying cause of many illnesses.(5) Inflammation is the body's natural healing response to illness or injury, and its pain, redness, heat, and swelling are attempts to keep you from moving a damaged area while it is being repaired. (5) Inflammation can sometimes subside how the body heals. However, in some conditions, such as arthritis, diverticulosis, gallbladder inflammation, and heart disease, the inflammation does not go away. (5) It becomes chronic and leads to many other problems.(5) Ginger is very helpful in treating chronic inflammation because it partially inhibits two important enzymes that play a role in inflammation gone awry -- cyclooxygenase (COX) and 5-lipoxygenase (LOX).(5) While anti-inflammatory drugs block COX more strongly, they don't affect LOX at all and therefore only address part of the problem.(5)

Ginger helps protect and heal the gut. Because it doesn't shut down the inflammatory process entirely, ginger may actually allow it to work properly and then turn itself off, the way it does with an injury.(5) Ginger can also be used to help relieve nausea and can destroy a host of viruses. In some laboratory studies has shown promise as an anticancer agent. In many studies, pregnate women who ingested 500 mg of dried ginger powder between 30 to 60 minutes prior to traveling had much less motion sickness. (5) In China, ginger has been used to help digestion and treat stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea for more than 2,000 years.(6)

Ginger has been considered a benifital aid to the following:
  • Arthritis
  • Breast Cancer
  • Bronchitis
  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Chickenpox
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Common Cold
  • Croup
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Polyps
  • Morning Sickness (Pregnancy)
  • Smoking Dependency
  • Sprains, Strains, and Other Injuries of the Muscles and Joints
  • Vertigo
  • Fever
  • Gallbladder Disorders
  • Headache
  • Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarcation)
  • Heartburn/Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Indigestion (Dyspepsia)
  • Inflammation
  • Influenza
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Malabsorption Syndrome
  • Meniere's Disease
  • Motion Sickness

To find the definition of any of the above diseases, syndoms and sicknesses go to: http://www.naturalherbsguide.com/ginger.html

Ginger_and_leaves[1].jpg external image 220px-Koeh-146-no_text.jpg external image huge-ginger-plant.jpg
For More information on Medicinal Ginger go to: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm

1.4 Green Tea



There are three main varieties of tea; green, black, and oolong. The difference between the teas is in their processing.(8) Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called .(8)

Antioxidants are substances that scavenge free radicals -- damaging compounds in the body that alter cells, tamper with DNA (genetic material), and even cause cell death.(8) Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but environmental toxins (including ultraviolet rays from the sun, radiation, cigarette smoke, and air pollution) also give rise to these damaging particles.(8) It is believed that free radicals contribute to the aging process as well as the development of a number of health problems such as cancer and heart disease.(8) Antioxidants such as polyphenols in green tea can neutralize free radicals and may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage they cause.(8)
The consumption of Green tea within clinical cancer trials has been wildly successful. Cancer rates tend to be low in countries such as Japan where people regularly consume green tea. Though, it is not possible to determine from these population-based studies whether green tea actually prevents cancer in people.(9) Emerging clinical studies suggest that the polyphenols in tea, especially green tea, may play an important role in the prevention of cancer.(8) Researchers also believe that polyphenols help kill cancerous cells and stop their progression.(9)
To read about the specific green tea cancer trials go to: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/green-tea-000255.htm

Medicinal benifits of green tea consumption:
  • Improved memory
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Regualte blood sugars
  • Lowers risk of developing Heart disease
  • Reduces risk of kidney stones
  • Improves bone density
  • Reduces Cavities
  • Weight loss

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For more information on Medicinal Green tea and its benifits go to: http://www.walax.org/

Artical Summary


To read "Saving the rainforests with medicinal plants go to":http://rainforests.mongabay.com/1007.htm
Summary:
This artical relates Medicinal Plants as it shows just how important they can be. The idea that we ignore and take little time to pay attention to the opportunities in the rainforest is crazy, as their could be so many helpful plants available in the rainforest. In the article, the writer calls the rainforest the "ultimate chemical laboratory", and humans should take action in researching the plants and their uses in the Rainforest. "Rainforest plants have already provided tangible evidence of their potential with remedies for all sorts of medical problems, from childhood leukemia to toothaches". If we just looked into all of the possibilities the rainforest has to offer than we could find so many thousands of Medicinal plants, that will only help the human race.

Glossary


Antrhopologist
vinblastine
Synthesis
Synthetic Drugs
Doctrine of Signatures
Organic Molecule
Willow Bark
Digitalis
Foxglove
Periwinkle
Succulent
Botanicals
Amino Acids
Psoriasis
Diverticulosis
Cyclooxygenase
Unfermented
Antioxidants
Polyphenol

Refrences


(1) http://www.aloetreatment.com/learn_about_aloe_vera.html
(2) http://www.aloe-vera.org/
(3) http://www.whyaloevera.com/medicinal-uses.html
(4) http://www.aloetreatment.com/learn_about_aloe_vera.html
(5) http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/medical-uses-for-ginger-ga.htm
(6) http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/ginger-000246.htm
(7) http://www.naturalherbsguide.com/ginger.html
(8) http://chinesefood.about.com/library/weekly/aa011400a.htm
(9) http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/green-tea-000255.htm