~JUNE 2009 ~ Central New York -A common weed, Pennycress, is being grown and harvested as a possible source of biofuel. Growing food crops for fuel is not environmentally friendly, nor a good thing for consumer prices. Using weeds that can grow on unused and unfertilized land is a better idea. Willow is also being grown, as it is a fast growing tree that can make use of untillable, marshy land - maintain wetland and control runoff. Wild food lovers know that pennycress is good in salads, the fresh seeds providing a peppery accent (also called "pepper plant").
~ Frankincense Studied as Aid for Bladder Cancer - Sloan Kettering Hospital is conducting studies of Frankincense (Boswellia) as it may affect the growth of cancer cells in the bladder. Studies are as yet in the very early stages. Though not used extensively, internally, by herbalists for hundreds of years, the ancient did so--using it for tumors and dysentary.
~ Read this blog by Maria RODALE titled: SEX, ADVENTURE and PLANT HUNTING-
June 8, 2010 ~ ROSEMARY REDUCES TOXINS IN GRILLED MEATS-- The NYT reports that marinading meats before grilling destroys or prevents formation of heterocyclic amines--which cause cancer. They suspect it is the antioxident properties of the herb that does this. Rosemary contains the antioxidents: rosmarinic acid, carnosol, carnosic acid. Oyher herbs contain these same properties or others that are equally useful--good substitutes would be garlic, onions or lemon juice. (Study reported in the Journal of Food Science)
JULY 12, 2010 ~ FOREST BATHING--The NYT has an article relating information of a japanese study regarding the benefits of being out in nature (did we need a study??). The research shows that those exposed regularly to woods/forests have better immunity than those who are city dwellers. Chemicals released by plants, called PHYTONCIDES, which protect them from predation and rot, are airborn and also confer immunity to humans. In Japan, "Forest bathing" has become a health fad. Other studies show exposure to to rural environments raise the white blood cell count--those responsible in mounting immune defense.
SEPTEMBER 14, 2010 ~ The Wall Stree Journal is reporting today, that the government will be looking more closely at botanical medicine claims. Grants from NIH (National Institute of Health) to various medical testing facilities have already found the efficacy of using chamomile for stress headaches/anxiety and that Milk Thistle is useful in the treatment of Hepatitis C. They also find that St. John's Wort and Ginkgo are overused and not as useful for depression or strengthening mental abilities.
Is this good news, or bad? NIH has been fair and even handed and the herbal proponents have a voice there. However, sometimes the wrong questions are asked/studied and herbs/foods are dimissed without really understanding how/why they work. In studying herbs, the REAL herb, in a natural state should be studied--not capsules, or standardized versions. This is rarely done. And, asking the right/wrong question leads to helpful/bogus results. St. Johns wort was never historically used for major depression, so studies that find it does not work well are based on false claims that were mostly foisted on the public by popular magazines and unethical herb companies. Nobody has done any major study on St. John's Wort's ability ot sooth "NERVE" pain or in seizure disorders--which is its traditional usage.