Herbal Remedies and Plant-Based Medicines

Alternative Medicine Wordle

On this Memorial Day (in the US), as we honor those who have fallen in wars and we take a day off from work to reflect on the past and honor their memories, AltMedForYou brings you a lighter topic.


Today’s theme for the WordCount 2012 Blogathon challenges bloggers to create a Wordle “word cloud” image composed of words that define the blog or that are used in the blog. Users choose the layout, colors, fonts, and other design elements that best suit the blog.


Here’s our AltMedForYou Wordle for today:





It’s interesting to see the same image presented vertically, too:



New Resource for Herbal Medicine Users

If you’ve ever struggled to pronounce the name of an herb or herbal medicine, you’ll love a new resource called A Guide to Pronouncing Plant Names, by Judith Sims (2012), from the American Botanical Council (ABC). 

Why would you care? For one thing, lots of herbs have more than one common name. Black cohosh for example, is also called black snakeroot, bugbane, bugwort, rattleroot, rattletop, rattle weed, and macrotys, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. So you’ll use the Latin name, instead? Fine, but which one? Actaea racemosa or Cimicifuga racemosa – and how in the world would you pronounce either if you had to ask for it at a health store?

The Pronouncing Guide is available in two forms. Both are on CD and both are priced at $30 (US).

  • The audio CD is described by the ABC as:  “A succinct and entertaining guide to the pronunciation of Latin plant binomials. Covering 230 plant names, this guide is a set of drills designed to help you learn the scientific names of plants quickly and feel comfortable pronouncing them.” Printed materials are also included.

  • The digital CD provides the same with “PDF for those who prefer a totally digital version,” according to the ABC.

In addition to the eStore where the ABC sells this Guide and other materials, you’ll find a wealth of other goodies including…

…the Herbal Library with the ABC’s quarterly journal, HerbalGram

…summaries of major herb research articles

…an interactive database of scientific research on herbals

…monographs (detailed reports, each on a single herb, that tell how it is used, what its side effects and contraindications are, what dosage is best, etc.)

…Commission E Monographs (reports from the highly regarded German government organization that evaluates the safety and effectiveness of herbs used as medicine)

…courses for those who want to learn more about herbs


…speakers bureau

and much more.

Want a sample?  The four links below will give you a pretty good idea of the type of information that’s available. And these are open to anyone visiting the site (no fee, no membership required).

* The ABC’s Therapeutic Monograph on an herbal cold remedy called Cold-fX®

* A guide to the meaning of herbal Terminology (words or terms used in herbal info)

* Clinical Guide to Elder Berry (an herbal flu remedy)

HerbClip: Black Tea Intake Improves Lipid Profile and Antioxidant Status

For anyone who is interested in the world of herbal medicine and wants to know more about how to use individual herbs or combinations of herbs medicinally, the ABC site is a keeper.

© 2012, all rights reserved.

Alternative Medicine Thoughts in Haiku…


Today is Haiku Theme Day for bloggers who are participating in the 2012 Blogathon


My first thought was “haiku on an alternative medicine blog?  Seriously?” I can’t recall ever seeing the art of haiku blended with the concepts of alternative medicine… but since both are about the beauty and wonder of nature, perhaps this is not as unlikely a pairing as it first seems. 


The form of haiku, when written in English, is simple enough: a first line of five syllables, a second line of seven, and a third line of five, for a total of seventeen. And the object, purpose, or goal of haiku is to capture and distill into those seventeen syllables the purest possible essence of a moment, an experience, a phenomenon, or a thought.


As a former poetry editor who judged haiku contests in times long past but has not dabbled in the poetic arts for many years, this theme day posed a unique challenge.


I look forward to seeing your comments. Thank you for stopping by today and be sure to visit again tomorrow when this blog returns to more traditional ways of exploring the world of alternative medicine. 


*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

(on herbal therapies)

fragile flowers soothe

jangled nerves and angry skin

gentle healing herbs …



 first to be planted

as settlers conquered the west

herbs for medicines …



*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

(on acupuncture)




               tiny needles rouse 

                    powerful healing genie

                                life-force energy…



*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

 (on nature’s vitamins)


  Assorted fruit 


bright colors wrapping

tempting fragrance and flavor

fruit-borne vitamins …




*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

(on medical practice)

    MP900321070[1]open western eyes

to ancient eastern healing 

health must integrate …


*  *  *




healing universe

grows when alternative is

mainstream medicine …









© 2012, all rights reserved (haiku and layout)


(Images courtesy of Microsoft Office.com)

Menu Medicine: Oregano in Pizza and Pasta Sauce Kills Prostate Cancer Cells


Good news for men who love pizza and spicy pasta sauce. Those two favorite foods may help fight prostate cancer.


We already knew tomato sauce appears to reduce the risk of cancer. And we knew oregano, the herb that gives many Italian foods their classic spicy flavor, has many health benefits too including fighting bacteria and inflammation.


Now, new research indicates oregano contains a key component that helps kill cancer cells.


Long Island University (LIU) researchers presented their study’s preliminary findings at Experimental Biology 2012, an annual gathering of six scientific societies, that was held in San Diego, California, this April.


Previous research had reported that pizza cut cancer risk but researchers thought this effect was due to the lycopene in tomato sauce on pizza, explains LIU researcher Supriya Bavadekar, PhD, RPh. Her team focused on carvacrol, a constituent of oregano, and found that carvacrol promotes cancer cell “apoptosis,” which in plain English means cancer cell suicide.


“If the study continues to yield positive results, this super-spice may represent a very promising therapy for patients with prostate cancer” without the toxic side effects that accompany current prostate cancer treatments, Dr. Bavadekar said in an LIU news release.


Best of all, pizza as preventive medicine would be a great tasting treatment.


© 2012, all rights reserved

Need to lose weight? Black Pepper Helps Block Fat


Love black pepper?  Give the grinder another twist and enjoy! 


Ancient peoples used black pepper as medicine to treat a host of problems including pain and inflammation. Now researchers using computer models and lab tests have shown that the spicy black flakes also play a role in weight management and preventing obesity.


The new study, published in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, reports the two key factors that enable black pepper to block fat are black pepper extract and piperine.


Both inhibit fat cell development but, even better, researchers say they may also fight fat in other ways that we haven’t identified yet.


What they do know now is that piperine and black pepper extracts appear to trigger a chain reaction of events that might be comparable to posting a diet policeman on patrol in the body to make sure new fat cells do not develop.


It would be nice if we could report that means that all we have to do to lose weight or keep weight under control is simply to eat more black pepper. But that’s not the answer. All we do know now is that this study opens the door to a new and very promising line of research that may help us combat the obesity epidemic.


For those who would like to read the complete study, see:   Piperine, a Component of Black Pepper, Inhibits Adipogenesis by Antagonizing PPARy Activity in 3T3-L1 Cells


© 2012, all rights reserved

Who uses Alternative Medicine? Some answers from a University of Michigan Health System Study


Ever wonder who is using alternative medicine?  A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Health System, found that a third of people who have chronic pain seek relief from complementary and alternative medicine therapies such as acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic, and physical therapy.

In fact, a U-M news release about the study says: “Chronic pain has been found to double the odds of seeking alternative services.”

Race and age also played a role. The U-M study showed that elderly people and whites used AltMed more than younger people or blacks and AltMed users have higher levels of education and income.

The income part of that finding makes sense when you think about how much herbs, supplements, a nutritious diet, and treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic can cost if they’re not covered by health insurance. 

As evidence from scientific studies supporting the use of alternative therapies grows, coverage may improve and cost may become a less important factor in deciding whether AltMed is right for you.

The U-M study was published in Vol. 11, No.1, of  the January 2010 journal Pain Medicine.

To read the U-M news release about the study, click on this link:

  U-M study: Alternative medicine use for pain increases with age and wealth

To read another News report about the study from Alternative Therapies in Health And Medicine – A Peer-Reviewed Journal, click this link: 

Study: Use of Alternative Therapy for Pain Treatment Increases With Age and Wealth

(c) 2010, all rights reserved.

Herb Combats Pancreatic Cancer


Cancer News

April 21, 2009 

There’s new hope for pancreatic cancer thanks to new studies on an herb whose seed and oil have been used in Middle Eastern and Asian traditional medicine for thousands of years. 

Research reported at the American Association for Cancer Research’s (AACR) 100th Annual Meeting 2009 in Denver, Colorado, showed an extract of the herb, Nigella sativa, appears to inhibit the development of pancreatic cancer cells. Previous research found the same extract kills pancreatic cancer cells.  Thymoquinone, the major component in oil extracted from Nigella sativa, is the key.


If further studies prove the initial findings, this herb could offer preventive and therapeutic benefits for people who have chronic pancreatitis, people at high risk for pancreatic cancer, and pancreatic cancer patients who have had surgery for the condition,           according to researcher Hwyda Arafat, MD, PhD, associate professor of surgery at the Jefferson Medical College and Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Dr. Hwyda Arafat photo courtesy of Thomas Jefferson University)

“These are very exciting and novel results,” Dr. Arafat said.   “More importantly, the herb and oil are safe when used moderately, and have been used for thousands of years without reported toxic effects.”

The study abstract (#494) is posted on the AACR site (linked above) and the research will be published in the Oxford journal HPB: The Official Journal of the International Hepato Pancreato Biliary Association 



Deaths:  Annual number of pancreatic cancer deaths (USA):  32,000

Survival:  Average 5-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer:  5.5%


For more information:

* Middle eastern herb shows potential against pancreatic cancer, by Stephen Daniels, 21 April 2009, NUTRAingredients.com

* An herbal extract inhibits the development of pancreatic cancer, News Release from Thomas Jefferson University, 19 April 2009, EurekAlert.org

* Nigella sativa, Cancer Information / Integrative Medicine, Sloan-Kettering Memorial Medical Center. Includes sketch of the herb and information about its uses. Last updated July 28, 2008.

* A Snapshot of Pancreatic Cancer, National Cancer Institute, last updated September 2008  (NOTE: This is a PDF document that requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader – choose the version that fits your computer here)


© 2009, all rights reserved





(c) 2009, all rights reserved.