Friday, December 25, 2009

Alternative medicine: Apple

The many health benefits attributed to apples have given rise to the ancient saying that eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Botanical: Pyrus malus Family: N.O. Pomaceae Synonym: Wild Apple.

Malus communis. Habitat: The temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

Description: The 5 to 12 meter tall apple tree is deciduous. Its simple oval leaves are alternately arranged with acute tips. The flowers are white with a pink tinge which gradually fades. The centre of the fruit contains five carpels arranged in a five-point star.

Part Used Medicinally: The fruit and the bark. Constituents: Apple has 80 to 85 percent water, 5 percent proteid, 10 to 15 percent starch and sugar, and 1 to 1.5 percent acids and salts. All apples contain varying amount of the organic malic and gallic acids, vitamins A and C, pectin and iron.

Medicinal Uses: Fresh apple is rich in vitamins, and is used to treat scurvy. Apple is sedative and tonic. It is used to treat diabetes and lower the blood cholesterol.

It also has antiseptic and anti-rheumatismal effects and may help with heart disease, and weight loss. Apple's high content of vitamin C as well as other antioxidant compounds reduces the risk of colon, prostate and lung cancers.

Its fiber content helps regulate bowel movements. A group of chemicals in apples protect the brain from damages triggering neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinsonism. Apple consumption can act as an excellent dentifrice. It also pushes back the gums so that the borders are cleared of deposit. It's malic and tartaric acid content helps individuals with liver disorders.

Apple acids not only make the fruit itself digestible, but also help with the digestion of other foods. Its sugar is predigested and enters the blood rapidly to provide the body with energy and warmth. Apple juice, without sugar, reduces the stomach acidity and corrects sour fermentation. Consuming ripe, sour, juicy apples at bedtime cure constipation and some cases of insomnia. Regular apple consumption prolongs life span.

The glucoside extracted from apple bark and root, is effective in treating diabetes. Apple bark decoction is used to treat intermittent fevers. Cooked apples make a good homemade remedy for sore throats, fevers, eyes inflammation and erysipelas. Apple consumption appears to promote hair growth. It may also delay aging and skin wrinkles. A polyphenol compound extracted from unripe apples has an inhibitory dose-dependent effect against cholera toxin and can treat diarrhea.

Apple is a rich source of flavonoid and can improve lung function in asthmatics and lower the incidence of coughing and breathlessness in COPD patients. It may also prevent the development of carcinogenic substances in the bladder, lung and prostate. Consuming apples is related to a decreased risk of thrombotic stroke and heart attack mortality.

Apples play an important role in reducing the risk of a wide variety of chronic disease and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in general. In India, physicians prescribe apple cider vinegar in combination with the herb Gotu Kola to help revitalize the skin. When mixed with honey it improves digestion.

It is antibacterial and anti-fungal and boosts the immune system. It also fights respiratory infections, sore throats and nasal discharges. Apple cider vinegar is good in individuals suffering from arthritis because it breaks down calcium deposits in the joints while remineralizing the bones. Apple cider vinegar is a good remedy for food poisoning, urinary tract infections and lowering high blood pressure.

It is also a good source of potassium for diuretic users. preparation Eating 2 to 3 unpeeled red apples 3 times a day, is an effective treatment for diarrhea. Consuming unpeeled yellow apples before sleeping or in the morning is a good remedy for constipation. Eating 1 or 2 yellow apples after each meal will also lower the blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Eating green apples helps the liver function.

Caution Eating too many apples especially when cooked may cause amnesia. The fruit's malic acid erodes tooth enamel over time. The seeds, which contain small amounts of amygdaline, a cyanogenic glycoside, are mildly poisonous, but only chewing a large amount can cause toxic effects.

Alternative medicine: Tomato

Tomatoes are not only heart healthy but can also fight several types of cancer and help develop healthy teeth, bones, skin and hair.

Botanical: Lycopersicon lycopersicum Family: N.O. Solanaceae Synonyms: Lycopersicon, pomme d'amour, pomodoro Habitat: The tomato which originated from the highlands of the west coast of South America is now available all over the world.

Description: Tomatoes are perennial vines, typically reaching 1-3m in height. The fruit botanically classified as a berry has fleshy internal segments filled with seeds and a watery matrix.

The tomato's predominant colors are red, yellow and green; however, purple and brown ones are also produced. They range in size from small cherry tomatoes to medium plum/roma tomatoes to large slicing/beefsteak tomatoes.

Part Used Medicinally: Fruit Constituents: Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C and other vitamins like A, B1, B2, B6, E, K and niacin. They are rich in molybdenum, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate, copper, phosphorous, manganese, dietary fiber and chromium.

In addition, tomatoes contain small amounts of nicotine (coumaric and chlorogenic acid). Containing only 20 calories, they are a good source of phytochemical lycopene, beta-carotene and several other carotenoids.

Medicinal Uses: Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants which play a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system and fighting against infection. Due to their high content of lycopene (a powerful anti-oxidant) and phytonutrients, tomatoes lower the risk of prostate, colorectal, pancreatic and stomach cancers.

The consumption of tomatoes with fat-rich avocado, nuts and olive oil increases the fruits anti-cancer properties. Eating tomatoes and broccoli together has shown better results against prostate cancer. Two powerful compounds found in tomatoes, coumaric acid and chlorogenic acid, are thought to block the effects of nitrosamines, thus reducing the risk of lung cancer.

The tomato's high antioxidant content prevents from inflammation and the progression or severity of atherosclerosis, diabetic complications and asthma. The tomato's high potassium content makes it an effective stroke preventer and lowers blood pressure.

The vitamin K found in tomatoes helps maintain healthy bones by activating osteocalcin, a protein which anchors calcium inside the bones. It also helps prevent hemorrhages. Tomatoes are acidic, so they may upset the stomach in individuals with gastrointestinal discomfort.

Individuals with high cholesterol levels, those whose work involves traveling long distances, those who have recently undergone a surgical procedure and smokers benefit from this fruit. The blood thinning effects of tomato juice are noteworthy for individuals at higher risk of blood clot formation. A tomato-rich diet helps improve skin texture and color. Tomatoes help in liver congestion (cirrhosis) and gallstones.

The nicotinic acid in tomato can help reduce blood cholesterol and prevent heart diseases. A high dietary intake of tomato products helps lower LDL and cholesterol levels. Its high chromium content helps control blood sugar in diabetics and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in type 2 diabetics. Tomatoes are heart-healthy because their vitamin B6 and folates are needed to help the body convert homocysteine, a potentially dangerous chemical, into other benign molecules.

High levels of homocysteine can damage blood vessel walls and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Tomatoes can also fight chronic degenerative ailments such as atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease.

Tomatoes are a good source of riboflavin, which helps reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Preparation: Using a whole tomato is more recommended as it contains more lycopene. Bright red tomatoes have the highest amounts of beta-carotene and lycopene. Cooking tomatoes in oil especially olive oil helps the body absorb more lycopene.

It is important not to cook tomatoes in aluminum cookware since their high acid content will interact with the metal causing deleterious health effects. It should be noted that cooking and canning do not reduce the nutritional value of tomatoes.

Concentrated tomato products such as tomato paste are recommended over whole fresh tomatoes as they deliver more carotenoids and protect the skin against the damaging effects of the sun.

Caution: The tomato plant's leaves contain toxic alkaloids. Tomatoes are one of the foods most commonly associated with allergic reactions including eczema, hives, skin rash, headache, runny nose, itchy eyes, wheezing, gastrointestinal disturbances, depression, hyperactivity and insomnia. Individuals who suspect food allergy to be an underlying factor in their health problems should not use this fruit.

Related Stories:
Tomato protects against skin cancer
Alternative medicine: Strawberry
Alternative medicine: Apple
Alternative medicine: Cherry
Alternative medicine: Barberry
Alternative medicine: Mango

Tomato gel better than aspirin?

A natural ingredient found in tomato seeds can help maintain a healthy blood circulation by preventing blood from clotting, new clinical trials have found.

Discovered in 1999 by Professor Asim Dutta-Roy, the tomato-based ingredient, derived from the gel around tomato seeds, can improve blood flow.

The colorless and tasteless gel prevents the clumping of blood platelets, reducing the risk of clot formation, in a similar way to aspirin but with no side effects.

Patented as “Fruitflow”, the gel is believed to act by targeting several platelet aggregation pathways rather than just one.

The onset of the effects is within three hours of its consumption and may last for some 18 hours, making it ideal for daily consumption, the British researchers reported. Scientists suggested that adding the gel to certain foods can overcome the need for daily aspirin for warding off the risk of cardiovascular events.

Cholesterol Vital for Human Existence

"Cholesterol-free" sign can be found even on vegetable oil labels these days. Yet, vegetable oil simply cannot contain any cholesterol since the latter can be found in animal products only. We will forgive manufactures this advertisement trick and will try to find out whether cholesterol is indeed as scary as it is portrayed.

High cholesterol level is on the top of the list among the risk factors causing fatal diseases linked to atherosclerosis. It outruns any other risk factor, including high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and diabetes.

On the other hand, cholesterol is a required component contained in most of the tissue. It is vital for human existence. Cholesterol aids in building new cells, hormone production, and creation of intercellular membranes isolating internal organs from negative environment; helps to digest vitamins and accumulate energy.

Yet, cholesterol is only good for you until its level exceeds safe limits. As soon as it exceeds the mark of 200–250 mg/dL, it turns from a helper into an enemy.

Cholesterol comes from food and penetrates the blood where it transforms into serum cholesterol which can be good or bad. Good cholesterol is composed of high-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL cleans the arteries. Bad cholesterol is composed of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) that clogs the vascular walls with atherosclerosis plaques.

High-density lipoprotein comes from monounsaturated fats contained in nuts, legumes and corn, and polyunsaturated fatty acids contained in vegetable oils, fowl, and fish.
Bad cholesterol comes from butter, meat, egg yolks, and milk.

Exercise is an important part of preventing high cholesterol levels. Regular physical activity can help to reduce dangerously high levels, especially if it is accompanied by quitting smoking. Dietary supplements that are effective in preventing atherosclerosis contain nicotinic acid, vitamins C and E, and calcium.

Unfortunately, diet and exercise are only effective if cholesterol level insignificantly exceeds the norm. If cholesterol level is higher than the norm by 25% or more, only medication will help.
It is not enough to measure the level of cholesterol in the blood to find out if it is within the safe limits.

Significant atherosclerosis is possible with low cholesterol levels, while insignificant atherosclerosis is possible with high levels. It all depends on a proportion of high-density and low density lipoprotein determined through a separate test. Ideally, LDL level should be relatively high (no less than 35 mg/dL, ideally – 65–70 mg/dL), and HDL level should be low (less than 130 mg/dL), while the total amount of serum cholesterol should not exceed 200 mg/dL.

Human body produces on average 1 gram of cholesterol per day. The largest amount (800 mg) is synthesized in the liver, 200 mg is produced by the rest of the cells, and 500 mg comes with food.

According to WHO, the recommended dose of cholesterol for healthy people should be no less than 300 mg per day, while people with high cholesterol levels and those suffering from cardio vascular diseases should consume less than 200 mg per day.