Category Archives: Herb Review

Herb Review: Bee Propolis

Are you interested in taking Bee Propolis?  It’s available in multiple delivery forms and can be found at your local health food store.  What is it good for?  How much of it should I take?  Are there any safety concerns with taking Bee Propolis?  Keep reading to find out..

Bee Propolis

Functions:

  • 50% inhibition of superoxide (least prevalent free radical in the body, but the most dangerous)
  • Accelerates rate of healing of burns (stronger antimicrobial than aloe or aloe with lavender)
  • Analgesic, mild anesthetic
  • Anti-allergy
  • Antibacterial (flavonoids inhibit the growth of bacteria including staph. aureaus, which is the most pernicious bacteria that is resistant to tetracycline and erythromycin, but not to propolis).  Bacteria do NOT become resistant to propolis.
  • Antibiotic that helps fight disease reactions within the body
  • Anti-cancer (caffeic acid esters, phenols)
  • Antifungal
  • Anti-inflammatory, both internally and externally (from Quercetin)
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiseptic, disinfectant
  • Anti-tumor effect (caffeic acid esters)
  • Antiviral
  • Astringent, moderately strong styptic
  • Benefits cracked nipples
  • Benefits malignant skin tumors
  • Benefits subcutaneous cysts
  • Can be part of a natural mouthwash because of its antibacterial qualities
  • Can be used after tooth extraction to help healing
  • Causes slight decrease in blood pressure (not that effective for HBP or heart disease)
  • Causes slight increase in blood protein from which antibodies are made
  • Cytotoxic – Kills cancer cells directly
  • Effective with Trichomonas vaginalis
  • Endocrine enhancing or stimulating for the liver, kidney, and spleen
  • Enhances effect of other drugs used in treating pharyngitis
  • Has a synergistic and enhancing effect when combined with common antibiotics like streptomycin and tetracycline (it does not enhance the effects of chemotherapy agents)
  • Has been used for the thyroid gland (Siberian ginseng is better)
  • Helps alleviate side effects of various vaccines
  • Helps control runaway cell breakdown, a condition symptomatic of cancer
  • Helps fight tuberculosis
  • Helps prevent metastases
  • Helps stop bleeding
  • Helps with fungal sinusitis caused by candida
  • Increases various components of white blood cells – phagocytes, leukocytes
  • Indicated for hayfever – Need a large dose of 7-8 times per day (bee pollen is better)
  • Indicated for joint disorders (can combine with other anti-inflammatories), candida albicans (not solely, but most important – use with oregano), vaginal inflammation (use tampons containing propolis; raw propolis can also be shaped into a cone), colds, flu (use propolis at first sign of infection), skin ulcers, psoriasis (study: 1/3 patients benefited from bee propolis), Herpes I (cold sores), UTI, thrush, oral candida, yeast infections (inhibited 60 strains of yeast that were tested)
  • Inhibits growth of resistant gram positive and gram negative bacteria
  • Kills gingival bacteria – Helps to prevent gingivitis and plaque
  • Not subject of research yet, but probably effective for anthrax
  • Nutritive – Contains minerals and trace elements
  • Over 75% inhibition of OH (a very prevalent free radical in the body, but much less dangerous that SO)
  • Pretty good for hemorrhoids (use a salve form of propolis; horse chestnut seed extract is better)
  • Raises body’s resistance to infections; stimulates immune factors
  • Reduces itching and pain
  • Slightly aids cell regeneration over wounds
  • Stimulates interferon production (natural protein substance that combats many diseases)
  • Strengthens the thymus gland (makes white blood cells called T4 cells) because of the phenol esters
  • Strong scavenging action against oxygen radicals generated by exposure to chemicals
  • Strongest remedy for radioepithelitis
  • Superstar for throat infections:  Pharyngitis, tonsillitis, laryngitis
  • Therapeutic for chronic exacerbated pharyngitis; acute, exacerbated glotitis (study: benefited 90% of 260 patients with various types of pharyngitis)
  • Tones, heals, and strengthens epithelial tissue
  • Use externally for cuts
  • Use for fungal infections, including Athlete’s foot – Taken both internally and externally; bee propolis is more effective for Athlete’s foot than goldenseal at a fraction of the cost
  • Use for infections throughout the body, including all skin infections
  • Use for radiation burns (applied externally and taken internally; especially good when combined with aloe vera)
  • Use for salmonellosis:  Inhibits free radical oxidation of lipids due to salmonella (dosage of 1 ½ dropperfuls initially; then, 1 dropperful every 3 hours)
  • Use for ulcers – 1 of 4 favorites for both gastric and duodenal ulcers (use aloe vera, slippery elm, and licorice, 90% of 108 patients healed with bee propolis)
  • Very good antioxidant because of phenol compounds – Protects against toxins

Dosage and Delivery:

Bee Propolis is available in different forms including lozenges, tinctures, gel caps, and oral sprays; also may be added to an herbal salve.

Use propolis as a whole substance, not as a fraction, i.e. one active ingredient.  Maximize benefits by taking on an empty stomach.

Propolis tinctures are 60-80% alcohol in order to extract the active ingredients (because it is very resinous).

Tincture:  For acute problems, use 1 ½ dropperfuls initially, diluted in room temperature or slightly warm water; then 1 dropperful every 4 hours for a total of 4 (up to 5 maximum) doses per day.  The tincture in water will turn cloudy, then yellow to brown.  Can also apply the tincture externally.  Bee propolis will stain the skin yellow-brown but this will gradually wash off.

Gelatin Capsules:  500 mg – Take 3 caps, 3 times per day or 4 caps, 2 times per day

Lozenge:  Chewable lozenge often combined with zinc gluconate (can take too much zinc if taken long term).  Sugar-free is best, but clients may complain of taste.

Throat Spray:  Use 2-3 times more what the manufacturer suggests.  Most throat sprays are fairly weak.  Not the best delivery form.

For an acute problem, take 1-2 days beyond absence of symptoms.  For a chronic problem, take 1 week beyond absence of symptoms.

Safety:

Low toxicity

Occasional contact dermatitis or oral inflammation

Use propolis from United States (propolis from Europe may contain lead)

When using for a sore, irritated, inflamed or strep throat, do not use a tincture without diluting (alcohol will irritate).  It would be better to use capsules (break apart so that the powder contacts throat area) or chew on raw bee propolis.

When using a tincture for burns, evaporate the alcohol before applying.

When using a tincture when candida is present, the alcohol must be evaporated because people with candida do not tolerate alcohol very well.

May also kill healthy yeast (Saccharomyces).  Take a good probiotic to protect good intestinal bacteria while taking bee propolis and for 7 days after its use.

Bee propolis is not beneficial to use during chemotherapy.  It can inhibit or decrease efficacy of chemotherapy/cancer killing therapies, because propolis is such a strong antioxidant, which aims to preserve the integrity of tissues.

When there is a long history of allergies or skin rashes, use with caution.

Stains the teeth (use chamomile to lighten color of teeth) and skin (like iodine) temporarily.

There is some concern with long term use because of the effect of resins on the kidneys – Be sure to use high quality bee propolis.

Miscellaneous Notes:

Primary Constituents

Rich concentration of bioflavonoids, including quercetin.

Contains calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, and silica.

Phenols, waxes, resins

Caffeic acid esters, which are very volatile compounds that are absorbed very easily and tend to be water-soluble (anti-cancer, anti-tumor, slows or stops growth of cancer cells; anti-viral, anti-allergy; kidney, liver, and spleen stimulating)

Tones, heals, and strengthens epithelial tissue, which lines ducts, cavities, organs, and glands.  It is one of the two strongest substances for inflammation or irritation of epithelial tissue (the other is carotene).  This tissue is your first line of inner defense.  Epithelial tissue is involved in all infections, inflammations and immunological problems due to internal and external harmful agents.

All bee products can be taken together or in any combination (bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis).

Probiotics:  Always use refrigerated product.  It should have at least 1 million CFU’s (colony forming units).  Take probiotic with 1 to 2 oz. of milk or yogurt.  The lactose found in dairy is food for the bacteria.

Herb Review: Ginger

ginger

I originally started this blog with the intention of writing about different herbs and providing information about my experiences with them.  Almost a year later, here is my first herb posting and it’s on one of my most favorite herbs (hard “h” sound in “herbs” for non-Americans).  Ginger root.  The Latin name is Zingiber officinale.  

I first remember eating pickled ginger when I was 18 years old.  It was the first time I went out for sushi.  I was told that ginger “cleanses the palate.”  I ate it and somewhat enjoyed it.  I liked the pickled aspect of it but I wasn’t so sure about the spiciness or hotness of it.  I didn’t complain much then, so I ate it with a smile.  I must’ve eaten ginger before that time but I don’t remember it.  I lived in Japan for 3 years when I was an adolescent and I can’t remember ever tasting ginger.  Now I’m an addict in the best sense possible.  I slowly acquired a taste for spicy, hot foods and when I learned about the medicinal properties of the herb, I was hooked.

I enrolled at the Natural Healing Institute in Encinitas, CA in January of 2009.  I was working towards my Holistic Health Practitioner certification and along with that I would be certified as a Clinical Master Herbalist.  I’m not so sure about the “Master” portion of that title but it looks pretty on paper.  The fact is that I enjoy studying herbs, playing with them, making infusions and decoctions, and sharing my experiences with anyone interested in listening.  That’s it.

I drink ginger tea when I have an upset or bloated tummy.  The ginger warms my stomach and intestines and is a fabulous aromatic carminative (it helps to expel gas).  I drink it when I feel nauseous or cold.  It can make you sweat slightly, which is a great way to detoxify (via the skin).  I eat pickled ginger or ginger candy before I engage in an activity that will most likely give me some motion sickness:  long car rides in the back seat, airplanes, small boats, big boats, cruise ships, the Tea Cups ride at Disneyland, and even surfing!

I love combining peppermint and ginger together for soothing the belly.  Plus, it smells really nice!

For those of you who enjoy reading about ginger and would like even more detail, I’ve put together a list of most of the herb’s functions, the dosage and delivery, safety (always, always read!), and some miscellaneous, fun notes about the herb.  Enjoy!

Ginger, Zingiber officinale

Functions:

  • Absorbs and neutralizes toxins in the G.I. tract
  • Analgesic
  • Antibiotic activity against salmonella, cholera, thrichomonas
  • Anti-inflammatory (because it inhibits prostaglandin and leukotrine synthesis which are part of the inflammatory process, and does not effect levels of beneficial prostaglandins)
  • Antioxidant
  • Antispasmodic
  • Aromatic carminative (for flatulence, gas, abdominal cramps)
  • Assists in treatment of ovarian cysts
  • Assists lymph and blood systems in getting rid of fibroid tissue
  • Blocks effects of neurotransmitter, substance P, which transmits pain impulses in nerve endings
  • Brings more circulation to the area it comes in contact with
  • Can combine with cayenne for respiratory infections, colds, and flus (works quickly, but may be too irritating for some people)
  • Cardio-tonic (use fresh ginger which accelerates calcium uptake by the heart muscle)
  • Contains natural anti-histamines
  • Decreases platelet lipid peroxide formation
  • Diaphoretic (when taken hot.  Historically used as a diaphoretic)
  • Digestive aid (promotes secretion of digestive fluids)
  • Diuretic (when taken cool)
  • Energetics are dry, hot
  • Gastrointestinal tonic
  • Helps expel worms
  • Helps intestines detoxify meat
  • Helps lower blood pressure (normalizes blood pressure, low or high.  Based on research studies, may regulate blood pressure)
  • Helps prevent frostbite
  • Helps prevent internal blood clots
  • Helps reduce cholesterol (promotes the excretion and impairs the absorption of cholesterol, may decrease cholesterol based on research studies)
  • Helps relieve deep muscle tension and helps remove lactic acid when used in a massage oil
  • Helps with liver disease (research shows that it may protect liver from toxins)
  • Helps with nausea associated with chemotherapy
  • Improves peristalsis while exerting an antispasmodic effect
  • Improves the body’s ability to assimilate other herbs (the liver deactivates medicinal compounds in herbs; ginger protects herbs from being destroyed so that they can pass through the liver unchanged and remain circulating in the blood for a longer period of time)
  • Increases ability to fight infections (colds, flu)
  • Increases bile secretion (and also stimulates production of bile)
  • Increases thermogenesis (increases metabolism)
  • Indicated for  dyspepsia (upset stomach, G.I. distress), nausea, digestion of protein and fat, ulcers (helps prevent formation), intestinal parasites, vomiting, earaches, pain, inflammation, stiff joints (use for inflammatory conditions; decreases pain, increases joint mobility, decreases swelling and morning stiffness), arthritis (both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis), diabetic neuropathy, headaches (relaxes blood vessels in the head and diminishes swelling in the brain), migraines, morning sickness, menstrual cramps (decreases prostaglandin levels), fibroids, bronchial congestion, dandruff
  • Inhibits diarrhea
  • Inhibits platelet activating factor
  • Inhibits platelet aggregation (but does not affect ability of blood to coagulate.  This helps keep blood flowing smoothly and helps prevent development of atherosclerosis)
  • May tone the heart muscle (based on research studies)
  • Menstruation promoter
  • Oil is counterirritant
  • Secondary brain herb
  • Soothes uterus
  • Use with an herbal laxative to prevent intestinal cramps
  • Used for motion sickness (2.5 times more effective than Dramamine)
  • Vasodilator
  • Warming properties which stimulate physiological functions (herbal stimulant, warming to the body)

Dosage and Delivery:

Can use tea, tincture, or capsules.  Also available pickled and often served with sushi.  Available in a candied form.

  • Tea:  2 tsp powdered or grated root per cup of boiling water.  Steep 10 min.
  • Motion sickness:  1,500 mg 30 min before travel.
  • Inflammatory Conditions:  500-3,000 mg per day
  • Compress for muscles:  Make a ginger tea (decoction), soak cloth in it and apply to area.

Safety:

Although ginger can relieve morning sickness, pregnant women should not ingest more than 1 gram daily.  Contraindicated for pregnant women with a history of miscarriage.

Contraindicated for UTI, inflamed prostate, endometriosis and similar problems.  In large amounts it tends to irritate the urogenital tract.  May cause heartburn in some  people.  Doses higher than 6 grams of dried powder on an empty stomach may cause G.I. distress.  People with gallstones should consult physician before using medicinal amounts of ginger.  Avoid excessive amounts of ginger in cases of acne, eczema, or herpes.

Ginger may cause adverse reactions when used in combination with anticoagulant drugs such as Coumadin or aspirin; if you are suing such medications, seek the advice of a qualified health-care practitioner before commencing use of ginger.

Miscellaneous Notes:

Whenever you use a strong herbal laxative, also use a strong aromatic carminative like ginger, fennel, anise, or cardamon which will prevent intestinal cramps from the herbal laxative.

Fresh ginger contains higher levels of gingerol, and protease.

Traditionally it was used to revive a lowered sex drive, and add a warm, stimulant spice to life.

In magical traditions, ginger is said to attract love, prosperity, and success.