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Bromelain is the name of a family of enzymes derived from pineapple. Bromelain contains proteolytic enzymes that help split proteins into other fragments such as proteases and peptones. Bromelain helps reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation after surgery or injury and has an excellent safety record. Bromelain is also used as a digestive aid, but individuals who are allergic to pineapple should avoid it.


Gymnema sylvestris is an herb that has gained the attention of weight loss specialists. Traditional healers have used this tropical plant, which grows in India and Africa, for at least 2,000 years to treat diabetes. It can help weight loss by increasing circulating insulin, the hormone secreted by the pancreas, thus helping the body more efficiently metabolize carbohydrates. What's more, a polypeptide called gurmarin in the herb helps suppress the brain's ability to taste the sweet flavor, thereby decreasing the desire to eat sweets.


Chamomile flowers are one of the finest and safest of medicinal plants. Mildly bitter and sweet, chamomile has long served as a digestive aid when taken as a tea after a meal. It also helps calm anxiety, stress, estlessness, and insomnia. When given to children, it calms teething and colic. Chamomile is included in many skin care products for its ability to speed the healing of minor wounds, soothe chaffing, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and calm inflammation.


Many herbs that are usually considered safe for normal use are not recommended during pregnancy. Then, of course, there are some that are never considered safe under any circumstances. Here's a list of herbs you'll definitely want to avoid during pregnancy:
- Parsley
- Senna
- Mugwort
- Yarrow
- Cascara sagrada
- Pennyroyal
- Angelica
- Buckthorn
- Juniper
- Rue
- Tansy
- Coltsfoot
- Coltsfoot bark
- Male fern
- Goldenseal
- Comfrey
- Sage (large amounts)
- Black cohosh

Don't consider this list comprehensive, and be sure to check with your physician before starting any herbal treatment or dietary supplement.
On a related note, a study at Loma Linda University suggests that some herbs may actually make getting pregnant very difficult. These include St. John's wort, Echinacea, and ginkgo.


In case you didn't know, there's a body of scientific evidence to support the old folk remedy of drinking cranberry juice to cure urinary tract infections (UTIs). Not only that, but now there's a lot of evidence that cranberry juice works to prevent UTIs. The juice works by preventing the infectious cells from bonding with the lining of your urinary tract; this enables you to simply flush the cells out of your system. The good news is that the compound responsible for the cure is now available in capsule form, which provides more fiber and less sugar than the juice cocktail. " Tyler's Honest Herbal" suggests drinking three or more fluid ounces of the juice cocktail daily as a preventive, or drinking 12 to 32 fluid ounces as
a treatment. If you use the capsules, note that six capsules equal three fluid ounces of the cocktail.


St. John's wort seems to be the culprit in two cases in which kidney transplant recipients experienced rejection. Apparently, St. John's wort interferes with the drug cyclosporine--a traditional antirejection drug.

In both cases, blood levels of cyclosporine dropped when the patients started taking St. John's wort. After discontinuing St. John's wort, both patients' cyclosporine levels returned to normal--though one of
the patients had to undergo a subsequent kidney transplant.

St. John's wort has already been shown to interfere with the protease inhibitor drug indinavir, which is used in the treatment of HIV infection.


A study at the University of Maryland has determined that mid-thigh fat deposits are associated with the risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, and lipid disorders. The 24 subjects
in the study were 58 or older, non-smokers, post-menopausal and not receiving hormone replacement therapy. The subjects followed the American Heart Association's Step 1 diet plan and walked three times a
week for 35 to 45 minutes. The results after six months indicated a reduction of mid-thigh fat while improving glucose metabolism as well as lipid metabolic risk factors for CVD. Women with the most
mid-thigh fat lost the most fat and gained the most muscle. In addition, at the conclusion of the study, the women's body weight and body mass index had decreased by an average of eight percent, waist and hip circumferences had decreased by four percent, and the overall aerobic capacity had increased by eight percent.

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