Posted on 22 Oct 2009 01:26
My last post on the subject of herbs was about catnip and fennel (among some others) and I tried to make it clear just what my approach was to using herbs.
An easy and timely example of WHAT TO IGNORE has to do with scam artists and their readiness to take advantage of any situation. Situation at hand: H1N1 Swine Flu.
The FDA and the FTC have recently issued a joint spanking to a website making fraudulent claims about supplements. Namely implying that they would help stop the spread of H1N1 and in general that they would "ward off colds and flu".
The BIG PRETTY HERB that was most touted by this website, DrWeil.com, was astragalus and the site claimed it was antiviral and that it "boosts immunity".
Since the agencies consider the swine flu virus to be a serious public health threat and, in their own words, "a threat to national security" they did not take kindly to this marketing. The site was given 48 hours to cease and desist such marketing. This was the first ever joint letter the FDA and the FTC, so yeah, they were pissed.
Why are they so pissed? Well, because PEOPLE COULD DIE while taking these supplements and waiting for them to perform their miracles while what they need is a DOCTOR.
Perhaps not from the flu. Maybe you, like Mercola, are complacent about influenza. Want a better example?
HIV is a virus that no cure has been found for. However, with the proper medications and with COMPLIANCE, it CAN be managed and people live many years with HIV/AIDS.
But HIV is one of the BIG THREE targets of supplement marketers (along with cancer and arthritis). St. Johns Wort has recently promoted as an HIV cure. Of course it is not and there is no evidence to really suggest it is. But there IS evidence to suggest that it interferes with the actions of those medications I mentioned above. And it is quite likely that many other "miracle cures" if taken at substantial enough doses and frequency, will do the same. So what you have is a person living with HIV who turns to miracle cures and becomes a person dying from HIV.
Glamorous herbs like astragulus that claim to diagnose, prevent, treat or cure the cold, the flu, and especially something as immediate and threatening as H1N1 are the province of snake oil salesmen and should be pretty much ignored.
So, while I post about these herbs that may help, for some, relieve discomfort of some kind I want to make it clear that I do not think that they will cure any underlying disease or condition that is causing the discomfort and, in fact, such discomfort is not what I am on about.
Turmeric for Heartburn and Stomach Discomfort
Turmeric, a common household spice that has been used for as long as anyone can remember has some pretty handy uses in this regard. Some of the things that I have used it for I will keep to myself because, frankly, just because I do something doesn't mean I think everyone should do it.
Before you say "I though we were talking about herbs but turmeric is a spice", it's both. When we cook with leaves and stems from aromatic plants we generally refer to them as herbs and when we use ground roots and seeds we refer to them as spices. Both items are usually referred to as "herbs" or "herbals" when speaking of medicinal or therapeutic use. You can read more about this in the flavorings, herbs, and spices section of How to Read Food Labels.
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. It's used in curries and garam masala and is frequently used as a coloring in processed food due to it's bright yellow color (it stains like a big dog as well).
There has been a lot of talk about it's potential as a liver protectant due to the compound curcumin. Curcumin was also found to be quite effective at decreasing inflammation in a couple of clinical studies but it is premature to make any assumptions about it's affect on the liver or on inflammation in general.
It has been found to be similar to cayenne in that it stops pain by blocking the neurotransmitter "substance P" from sending pain signals to the brain but it's doubtful that turmeric cream will ever be a replacement for Capsaicin Cream1, unless people fancy having their skin stained a sickly yellow color. But research into this area is being conducted, specifically for use of the herb in the treatment of joint pain from arthritis and other joint problems.
Curcumin has been investigated as a potential treatment for lung, gastrointestinal, oral, and breast cancers. And more recently, investigations into it's potential for pancreatic cancer have begun. It is not likely at all that consuming large amounts of turmeric as a supplement, however, would be of any use at all and curcumin, even if it is effective, needs to be developed into a drug that is more bioavailable to be of treatment benefit.
What turmeric does very well is to help relieve the discomfort of occasional heartburn. I want you to notice that I said "occasional". Meaning the normal type of heartburn that all of us can get from time to time due to…dietary indiscretion. So what I am saying is that turmeric is great to help this type of heartburn. If you suffer from more than occasional heartburn, you don't need turmeric, you need a doctor.
You see…if I wanted to sell you something would I recommend it as a standby for something that happens OCCASIONALLY? Of course not. You see how marketing works? If there was a "heartburn season" I guarantee someone would be selling a supplement that promised to ward off the heartburn bug.
OK, so on to meat of this post.
First of all, you may already have some turmeric in you cupboard. Just plain old ground turmeric that you can get from the spice aisle at the grocery store is what I'm talking about here. By the way, I'd recommend refrigerating ground product to make it last longer.
When you have heartburn steep one teaspoon in about a cup of warm milk for around fifteen minutes. If you are lactose intolerant you can use soy milk or rice milk (rice milk provides the best taste). It may taste awful to your or just weird. You can sweeten the mixture with honey or sugar if you desire.
The reason for the milk is to make it more palatable. Trust me you do NOT want to try to drink tumeric steeped in plain water. I have found no difference between using milk, or soy milk, or rice milk so I don't think dairy has anything to do with it.
Once the mixture has steeped give it a good stir and just sip it slowly so that you consume it in about five minutes.
If you drink it all at once it WILL NOT work. In fact it will probably just make your heartburn worse. While you drink it the burning from the heartburn may intensify a bit. Be patient.
Do not use more than a teaspoon! It may make the pain worse if you use too much.
If you have a stomach ache but not heartburn you can take turmeric in a capsule. I keep around some gelatin capsules which can be had in bulk very economically. Just scoop up some powder in a couple of them and wash it down with water. This is not instant relief but it tends to work very well for me and those I've recommended it to.
Turmeric is a class one root2.
Like any herb that hasn't been researched enough it should not be used therapeutically during pregnancy or lactation. Therapeutic use would be consistent and daily use for the treatment of a health condition. It is doubtful that a little steeped turmeric in milk is a problem for pregnant or lactating women.
Therapeutic use is warned against for persons with bile duct obstruction, peptic ulcer, and hyperacidity. If you suffer from these conditions I would not recommend you use turmeric to treat associated symptoms in the manner I've described, let alone use it on a therapeutic basis. So you can see why I stressed "occasional and normal" kind of heartburn.
Tumeric can increase bleeding so therapeutic use for those with bleeding disorders is a big no no. Also, if you are on anticoagulants such as heparin, warfarin, or salicylates (aspirin therapy) it is not a good idea to take a big dose of tumeric at one time. It's not likely to be enough to cause a problem with one dose, but I wouldn't do it. Therapeutic long-term use with these drugs is definitely out. The same warning holds true for the use of NSAIDS.
Of course anyone could be hypersensitive to this or any other herb.
Volatile Oil: Curcumin I, II, and III
Diferuloylmethane, Polysaccrarides, Vitamin C, and Potassium.
This page created 22 Oct 2009 01:26
Last updated 21 Jul 2016 21:29