Science Update: Artemisia, from Malaria to Cancer and Back to Basics by Guido Masé, March 9, 2017

Malaria is a deadly disease. Because of its reliance on tropical mosquitos for transmission, it disproportionately affects people living in the developing world: of the more than 600,000 deaths from malaria every year, over 90% occur in sub-Saharan Africa where resources are few and transportation to care facilities is difficult.1 What’s more, over the last fifty years the malaria parasite has evolved considerable resistance to tried-and-true treatments (such as chloroquine, quinine and its derivatives, along with other drugs such as sulfadoxine) in most areas where the disease is widespread.2 That’s why most physicians in the developing world are now using a class of drugs derived from a molecule called artemisinin. This compound is very effective against the malaria parasite, and is derived from Artemisia annua (Sweet Annie, or quing hao as it is known in the Chinese materia medica).3 It forms the cornerstone of current antimalarial therapy in the developing world. Unfortunately, isolating artemisinin from the whole plant has led to the development of drug resistance – still localized mostly to Southeast Asia, and not very widespread.4 Nevertheless, as combination artemisinin therapies […]

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Mood-Brightening Herbal Beverages for Late Winter by Aisling Badger, March 1, 2017

Herbal Beverages Mood Recipes

March often teases us with springtime weather, while also delivering blustery days full of rain, snow and gray clouds. Our moods can be all over the place too after a burst of warm sunshine and a cold snow storm leave our bodies in confused states. As we make this transition and await the arrival of spring, our spirits are definitely in need of some brightening, uplifting inspiration and energy!

Nourishing ourselves with good food and time spent outdoors is always helpful. We can also turn to our plant allies, whatever the weather, for mood-brightening tonics to get us through these transitional months.

Even if you don’t take mood and stress support tonics on the regular, it’s fun to break up the routine a little and make herbal beverages that are not only beautiful and inspiring but serve a purpose in your mental health and optimal well-being.

Perhaps you are in the mood for a solid energy buzz, or a joyful, brightening spritzer; whatever the occasion these drinks are perfect for this time of year.

Herbal Beverages Recipe Damiana Hawthorn

Kombucha Joy Tonic Sparklers, with Damiana and Hawthorn

½ cup favorite kombucha flavor- we used schisandra & rose!

1 tablespoon Urban Moonshine Joy Tonic

1 teaspoon Damiana tincture or powder

1 teaspoon Hawthorn tincture

Rose and Schisandra Sugar for cup rim.

To make Rose and Schisandra Sugar- combine 1 tablespoon of each herb (powdered) and add 1 tablespoon sugar. Mix well.

Wet the rim of the glass by dipping in water […]

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Science Update: Whole Plants Versus Pills By Guido Masé, February 16, 2017

Whole Plants Versus Pills: The Cases of Curcumin and Quercetin

Herbalists, though we’ve been known to use isolated constituents from plants, often prefer traditional, whole-plant preparations like teas, tinctures, or powders. These “crude” extracts, we often claim, may appear to be less concentrated but are actually more effective than isolated molecules when given by mouth to a living, breathing human being. But is there any evidence to support this claim? If a certain constituent has therapeutic activity, it seems counterintuitive that refining and concentrating it might somehow make it less effective.
The issue, in the end, is one of bioavailability: the ability of medicinal chemicals to reach the target areas in the human body where they can exert their effects. It does us little good to take high doses of molecules that never reach tissue at appreciable concentrations. This, of course, is one of the problems with petri dish research: a given chemical may have an effect on neurons in a lab, but that’s far from a guarantee that it will enter our bloodstream, leave the liver unchanged, cross our blood-brain-barrier, and have the same effects on neurons in our central nervous system.

turmeric whole plants versus pills
One of the most famous, and researched, examples comes to us from the traditional Indian spice turmeric (ground rhizome of Curcuma longa). Curcumin and its molecular relatives the curcuminoids are polyphenolic pungent chemicals found in turmeric. They have attracted substantial attention, especially over the last decade, as potential medicinal compounds. But as a recent review article discovered,1 this rarely translates […]

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Dreaming Herbs for Winter Slumber By Aisling Badger, January 26, 2017

January is one of the darkest times in Vermont. We are mid-winter, leaving the land gray, often icy and barren, reminding us that we are far from spring.

It’s the perfect time to focus on our dreams and rebuild our vital energy through sleep.  Dreaming is often overlooked as a powerful way to answer questions, gain insight or process feelings.

dreaming herbs winter Urban Moonshine

Herbs can be an excellent ally to support dream potential as many of them allow us to get in touch with our imagination and intuition. Most of our favorite dream herbs soothe occasional anxiety and tension, allowing us to enter a deeply relaxed state.

One of the most compelling aspects of dreaming is that we can tap into our subconscious.

A few herbs to support dreaming potential:

dreaming herbs mugwort passionflower urban moonshine

Mugwort is a plant that herbalists have turned to for centuries as a tool for magic and dream work in many different countries. Known to support our ability to tap into the fantasy world, both in sleep and in shamanic trance work, mugwort was called upon in ancient times to help a person to visualize life dreams and desires.  It is also a symbol of protection and is burned as an incense or smudge stick in ceremonies.

As an aromatic plant, it supports a healthy nervous system gently soothing tension and stress.

 

Passionflower supports the nervous system in unwinding when you are feeling wound up from occasional anxiety.  Being in a state of relaxation, allows for the dream work […]

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