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a natural form of vitamin E and beta carotene that can be used in salads for those that don’t mind its bitter taste. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Like plantain, dandelion is one of the most powerful medicinal herbs on the planet. “Dandelion is revered wher- ever you travel, except in the United States, where it is considered nox- ious,” observes Gladstar.


Superherbs


Four Plants that Fight Off Disease by Kathleen Barnes


Mother Nature’s most potent healing herbs are already on most spice racks or growing nearby, often right outside the door.


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erbs, respected for their healing properties for millennia, have been widely used by traditional healers with great success. Now clini- cal science supports their medicinal qualities.


Pharmaceutical companies rou- tinely extract active ingredients from herbs for common medications, includ- ing the potent pain reliever codeine, derived from Papaver somniferum; the head-clearing antihistamines ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, from Ephedra si- nica; and taxol, the chemotherapy drug commonly used to treat several types of cancer, including breast cancer, from Taxus brevifolia. These are among the findings according to Leslie Taylor, a naturopath and herbalist headquartered in Milam County, Texas, and author of The Healing Power of Rainforest Herbs. Even among an abundance of healing herbs, some stand out as nature’s “superherbs” that provide an array of medical properties, according to Rosemary Gladstar, of Barre, Ver-


16 Hudson County NAHudson.com


mont, the renowned author of Herbal Remedies for Vibrant Health and related works. Two of these, she notes, are widely considered nuisance weeds. Plantain (Plantago major): Com- monly used externally for poultices, open wounds, blood poisoning and bee stings, it also helps relieve a wider variety of skin irritations. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, this common “weed” fortifies the liver and reduces inflam- mation, which may reduce the risk for many kinds of chronic diseases. At least one study, published in the journal Planta Medica, suggests that plantain can enhance the immune system to help fight cancer and infectious diseases. “Plantain is considered a survival herb because of its high nutritional val- ue,” advises Gladstar, who founded the California School of Herbal Studies, in Sonoma County, in 1978. A new study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry confirms it’s an excellent source of alpha-tocopherol,


Americans should reconsider their obsession with eradication. Dandelion root is an effective treat- ment against several types of cancer, including often-fatal pancreatic and colorectal cancers and melanoma, even those that have proven resistant to chemotherapy and other conven- tional treatments, according to several studies from the University of Windsor, in England. Traditionally part of a detoxifica- tion diet, it’s also used to treat digestive ailments, reduce swelling and inflam- mation and stop internal and external bleeding. Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Tur- meric gives curry powder its vibrant yellow color. “Curcumin, turmeric’s most important active ingredient, is a wealth of health, backed by substan- tial scientific evidence that upholds its benefits,” says Jan McBarron, a medi- cal and naturopathic doctor in Colum- bus, Georgia, author of Curcumin: The 21st Century Cure and co-host of the Duke and the Doctor radio show. Several human and animal stud- ies have shown that curcumin can be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, both in prevention and to slow or even stop its progress. One Australian study showed that curcum- in helps rid the body of heavy metals that may be an underlying cause of the memory-robbing disease. Scientists at the University of California, Los An- geles, found that curcumin helped dis- solve the plaques and tangles of brain material characteristic to Alzheimer’s. Curcumin is also known to be effective in lessening depression and preventing heart disease, some types of cancer and diabetes, says McBarron. Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Primarily used for its considerable anti-inflammatory properties, ginger makes a delicious and healing tea and


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