Maca, marshmallow, momordica, milk thistle, muira puma, mullein, myrrh, noni, parsley, passion flower, peppermint, pleurisy root, pumpkin seed, pygeum africanum

Medicinal Herbs M - P

Medicinal Herbs M - P

© 2006 Wellness Clubs of

Maca is a low-lying plant that grows in the Peruvian Andes at altitudes of 11,000 to 14,000 feet. It was cultivated by ancestors of the Incas as early as 1600 B.C. It is greatly valued for its ability to enhance sex drive and improve energy levels. It has also been used for centuries as a means to enhance fertility.

Marshmallow has a very high mucilage content that is highly effective in soothing the lining of the urinary tract. It has been used for centuries to ease the pain and burning of urinary tract infections. It is believed that the mucilage forms a protective barrier between the lining of the bladder and any bacteria that are present. It is frequently included in formulations designed to prevent or ease urinary infections.

Momordica is also known as bitter gourd. It has been used for centuries, particular in ayurveda, the traditional herbal medicine of India, as a means to control blood sugar. Its effectiveness in moderating blood sugar levels has been studied extensively. Momordica’s primary mode of action appears to be increasing the liver’s effectiveness in converting sugar for use as energy. Research also suggests that it supports the function of insulin producing islet cells in the pancreas. Other compounds within the whole extract may slow the absorption of sugars from the stomach and intestinal tract.

Milk Thistle seeds have been used to support the liver since at least the first century A.D. It is so effective in protecting and restoring the liver that, if started within the first 48 hours, the recovery rate from carbon tetrachloride poisoning is nearly 100 %. This is quite impressive given the fact that such poisonings are commonly fatal. It is felt that the most active constituent is a silymarin, a flavanoid. Milk thistle stimulates bile flow and is useful in a wide range of liver and gall bladder problems. It is also a valuable liver support for individuals taking pharmaceutical agents. In addition, it stimulates the flow of breast milk. It is safe for use in nursing mothers.

Muira Puma is also called “potency wood”. It is a bush that grows in the Brazilian Amazon basin. While all parts of the plant have been used by native tribes, the bark and roots have the greatest application for medicinal purposes. As its English name implies, it has been shown to be effective in improving sex drive and relieving erectile dysfunction. It has also been used for disorders of the nervous system including weakness, partial paralysis, and gait disorders.

Mullein is a wildflower with soft, broad leaves. Its primary medicinal use is to ease bronchial inflammation, promote the clearing of bronchial secretions, and reduce coughing. It was used in India as a treatment for tuberculosis, and some of its chemical constituents do inhibit the growth of the germ that causes tuberculosis. Its high mucilage content makes it suitable for soothing burns and other skin conditions. Mullein has also been used to ease insomnia and nervous tension.

Myrrh is mentioned frequently in the Bible. It is obtained from a gum resin scraped from the bark of the myrrh tree. Myrrh contains volatile oils that normalize intestinal secretions, soothe mucus membranes, improve digestion and promote absorption of nutrients. The oils are also antibacterial. Myrrh is useful in formulations designed to support the intestinal tract.

Noni is a species of mulberry native to Indonesia, Southeast Asia, & Polynesia. The plant has been used medicinally by native peoples for thousands of years. In recent years noni fruit has been promoted in the United States as a cure for all diseases. It is important to note that the bark, roots, and leaves have traditionally been used medicinally rather than the fruit.

Promoters of noni point to an alkaloid called xeronine as the primary source of the many benefits attributed to the product. Noni enthusiasts claim that xeronine is “essential to all life processes”. Interestingly, xeronine, as a chemical entity, exists nowhere outside of the noni promotional literature. It is, in fact, a non-entity. Anecdotal evidence of noni’s ability to moderate blood sugars is strong, but scientific studies in this regard are lacking. Because of the strong odor and offensive taste of the natural fruit, most products sold as “noni juice” are diluted with water and other juices to make them more palatable. Encapsulated freeze-dried extracts and pure, fermented juices are preferred by most non-proprietary authorities.

Parsley is perhaps best known for its role as a decorative garnish, but parsley root, leaves, and seeds have great medicinal value. They contain volatile oils and flavonoids that have diuretic properties. It is useful in formulations designed to support kidney function and it has also been shown to benefit men with prostatic enlargement. It is also used to stimulate menses and strengthen contractions during labor. Because of its uterine effects it should not be used in pregnancy. It is also useful for relieving intestinally gassiness and colic.

Passion Flower is valued primarily for its sedative and analgesic properties, but it has been used as a digestive aid as well. Research dating as far back as 1920 has shown that passion flower is capable of inducing a natural, restful sleep without side effects or hangover. The herb is commonly used in formulations designed to ease the symptoms of PMS and menopause. Passion flower is considered safe for pediatric use. It has been shown to improve concentration ability and decrease restlessness in school children.

Peppermint has a long history of use in soothing gastrointestinal symptoms. It contains many volatile oils, which include menthols and monoterpenes. Menthols soothe mucus membranes and relax smooth muscles in the intestinal tract. Monterpenes have antimicrobial activity and are helpful in restoring normal balance in the intestinal tract. Peppermint is commonly used to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Pleurisy Root is a member of the milkweed family and is native to North America. As its name implies, pleurisy root has a long history of use in treating bronchitis, pleurisy, and other pulmonary disorders. It is an effective expectorant, helping the body clear bronchial secretions. It also has anti-inflammatory activity. Pleurisy root has been reported to cause vomiting and diarrhea at higher dosages. It is not considered safe for use during pregnancy or while breast feeding.

Pumpkin Seed has traditionally been used to rid the intestinal tract of worms and other parasites. It also possesses diuretic properties. Men in Eastern European cultures commonly eat a handful of raw, hulled, pumpkin seeds daily because of their history of helping prevent prostatic enlargement and impotence. Crushed pumpkin seeds, alone or in combination with watermelon seeds were used by Native Americans to promote wound healing. Pumpkin seeds are becoming popular in snack mixes because of their ability to boost energy. They are high in fiber, and contain large amounts of zinc, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin A, and B vitamins.

Pygeum Africanum bark has been extensively researched for its ability to ease prostatic enlargement in men. Studies consistently show improvement of symptoms within two months in two-thirds of those taking it. Many men also report improved erection capacity. Pygeum appears to work by helping cells within the prostate return to their normal shape, by reducing inflammation, and by improving secretory ability.

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