Manual The Chanca Piedra Supplement: Alternative Medicine for a Healthy Body (Health Collection)

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Work to stimulate bile flow and support detoxification with burdock root. Protect and detoxify with chanca piedra, an herbalist favorite for liver health. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Shop all Shop by Health Concern products. Shop all Botanic Choice products. Deerfield IL All rights reserved. A total of 75 plant species belonging to 62 genera and 39 families were documented and identified as herbal remedies for intestinal ailments in Northern Peru.

Most species used were Lamiaceae The most important anti-infectious families are clearly over-represented in comparison to the overall medicinal flora, while some other medicinally important families e. The majority of anti-infectious herbal preparations were prepared from the leaves of plants Large parts of the species used for intestinal disorders in Northern Peru are introductions from other parts of the world, especially Europe.

A large number of Apiaceae are used for their stomach calming and antibacterial effects e. Coconut Cocos nucifera showed antiulcerogenic activity [ ], as did Yarrow Achillea millefolium [ , ], as well as Arctium lappa [ — ]. Grigoleit and P. Grigoleit [ ], and You et al. Well-known medicinal plants, for example, Hypericum sp. Hyptis pectinata showed hepatoprotective activity [ ].

Lamiaceae were particularly effective against gastrointestinal problems. Mentha piperita showed antibacterial and calmative effects [ ], while Origanum vulgare and Origanum majorana had pronounced antihyperlipidemic and antioxidant effects [ ]. Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis has potential to relieve oxidative stress and is strongly antibacterial [ — ]. Kawagishi et al. A variety of Lythraceae is also well known for their antioxidant and antibacterial properties, as studies in the Americas [ , ], and the Near- and Middle East [ — ] indicate.

Maity et al. Passiflora sp. Only recently antiinflammatory activity of Citrus sp. According to WHO estimates reproductive problems, including, million new cases of curable sexually transmitted diseases STIs; syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis occur annually throughout the world in adults aged 15—49 years. In developing countries, STIs and their complications rank in the top five disease categories for which adults seek health care. Infection with STIs can lead to acute symptoms, chronic infection and serious delayed consequences such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, cervical cancer, and the untimely death of infants and adults [ ].

A total of plant species belonging to 91 genera and 62 families were documented and identified as herbal remedies for reproductive problems in Northern Peru. Most species used were Asteraceae 9. Other families were less important, and 44 contributed only one species each to the pharmacopoeia. The most important families are clearly represented very similarly to their overall importance in the local pharmacopoeia [ ]. The majority of herbal preparations for reproductive issues were prepared from the leaves of plants Many remedies were prepared as mixtures of multiple ingredients by boiling plant material either in water or in sugarcane spirit.

Little scientific evidence exists to prove the efficacy of the species employed as reproductive disorder remedies in Northern Peru. Aloe spp. Adams and Garcia [ ] reported that Artemisia spp. A variety of other Asteraceae have been shown to be used against menopausal symptoms Clibadium [ 75 ]; Matricaria [ , , ]; Taraxacum [ , ].

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Lans [ ] found hormonal effects in Cordia sp. Cupressus sp. Chamaesyce sp. A wide range of Lamiaceae have been shown to exhibit contraceptive efficacy, and the same species are used in Peru for similar purposes Mentha spp. Similar efficacy has been shown for Sanguisorba officinalis [ ], and Ruta graveolens [ , — ]. Various species of Passiflora have aphrodisiac activity [ — ], and Myristica fragrans as well as Syzygium aromaticum [ ], and extracts of Lantana camara [ , ] and Pilea spp.

Lower income groups have generally a higher prevalence of risk factors [ ]. Traditional Medicine is used globally and has rapidly growing economic importance. In developing countries. Traditional healers are frequently consulted to treat heart problems and disorders of the circulatory system. The healers encountered used a wide variety of terms relating to heart problems, that in part generalized the condition e.

The use of western style biomedicinal terms is not surprising, given that all informants were of Mestizo origin and lived in an urban environment. Most treatments of the circulatory system involved the purification of the blood in order to improve the general condition of the patient.

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All healers readily acknowledge the negative influence of high cholesterol levels, and plant remedies were used specifically to lower cholesterol as well as weight loss therapies, while plants used for weight gain were insignificant. A total of 60 plant species belonging to 52 genera and 33 families were documented and identified as heart herbal remedies in Northern Peru. Most species used were Asteraceae 7 species, All other twenty-seven families contributed only one or two species each to the pharmacopoeia.

Asteraceae are in general under-represented as heart remedies in comparison to the medicinal flora used in Northern Peru; Lamiaceae and Euphorbiaceae are clearly over-represented in comparison to the overall medicinal flora, while some other medicinally important families e. The majority of heart remedies were prepared from whole plants Whole plants were more often used than characteristic for the overall medicinal preparations found in the region [ ].

This is very different from the regional average of application. Little scientific evidence exists to date to prove the efficacy of the species employed as heart remedies in Northern Peru. Ambrosia sp. Citrullus spp. Cucurbita spp. The use and efficacy of Lathyrus sp. Lev [ ] found Tamarindus sp. Plantain Plantago spp.

Bacterial infections and inflammation are among the ailments responsible for a large number of deaths worldwide and are often treated by traditional healers [ , ]. A total of 96 plant species belonging to 84 genera and 46 families were documented and identified as anti-infective herbal remedies in Northern Peru. Most species used belong to Asteraceae The most important anti-infectious families were over-represented in comparison to the overall medicinal flora, while some other medicinally important families e. The majority of herbal preparations were prepared from the leaves of plants Infections, in particular by strains of Staphylococcus aureus, are very common, and increasingly difficult to treat, due to widespread formation of drug resistance.

Fungal infections, due to the structure of the organisms involved, have always been a hard task to treat. Given the high importance of infections, it is not surprising that anti-infective agents are high on the list for drug development, and a large number of species used traditionally have undergone screening. Mango Mangifera indica has shown antibacterial efficacy in a wide variety of studies [ — ]. Compounds of Schinus molle showed anti-inflammatory activity [ ]. Oleandrin, isolated from Nerium oleander , was found to be active in inhibiting the kappa-B inflammation cascade [ ].

Rinaldi et al. Chinese traditional preparations like Guizhi-Fuling, containing Cinnamomum vulgare , have shown anti-inflammatory activity also [ — ]. A wide range of Asteraceae have strong anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Benedek and Kopp [ ] and Nemeth and Bernath [ ] found anti-infective potential in Yarrow Achillea millefolium. Many species of Baccharis proved effective [ , ], as did Bidens pilosa [ — ]. Other efficacious members of the sunflower family include Eupatorium [ — ], Matricaria recutita [ ], Tagetes patula [ ], and Taraxacum officinale [ , ].

Capsella bursa-pastoris was found to act as anti-inflammatory [ ], while Dioscorea was found to have immunostimulating properties [ , ]. Zhang et al. Jones [ ] found antibacterial activity in Croton lechleri Sangre de drago. Other examples for plants with anti-bacterial potential found in Peru include Manihot esculenta [ ], Solanum nigrum and Ricinus communis [ , ], Solanum sp.

Salvinorin A, extracted from Salvia spp. Other Lamiaceae with antiinfective compounds include Satureja hortensis [ ]. Buddleja spp. Plantago sp. Cat's claw Uncaria tomentosa has long been marketed as traditional anticancer remedy, leading to serious over-harvesting and flooding of the market with adulterated material [ ]. Calvo [ ] and Speroni et al. A few plant groups have been studied more in depth. Rutaceae Citrus spp. Vargas et al. Malaria is still a major global public health problem in most tropical countries. It is thought that malaria is by far the most serious tropical disease causing one to two million deaths per year, and it plays a major role in the high mortality seen in infants and children [ , ].

It is also responsible for miscarriages, premature deliveries, growth retardation, low birth weight, and anemia [ — ].

Herbal Medicine

The World Health Organization WHO has estimated that about 2 billion people in over countries are exposed to malaria, with million cases in alone, and half of the world's population is potentially exposed to the disease [ ]. The worsening global economic situation makes it difficult to expand modern health services; hence, effective low-cost delivery medical system is urgently needed [ ]. This is even more pressing because the use and misuse of over the counter antimalaria remedies like chloroquine to prevent and treat falciparum malaria have led to widespread appearance of resistant parasites [ ].

This is complicated by the fact that global warming may lead to expansion of areas in which the ambient temperature and climatic conditions are suitable for Plasmodium transmission. Climatic variability has been associated with some of the recent epidemics [ ]. A total of 17 plant species belonging to 17 genera and 13 families were documented and identified as anti-malarial herbal remedies in Northern Peru. Most species used were Asteraceae 3 species, All other families contributed only one species each to the pharmacopoeia. The most important antimalarial families are clearly over-represented in comparison to the overall medicinal flora, while some other medicinally important families e.

Fever however included a variety of conditions, from fevers accompanying flu to fever as a result of malaria. Malaria was recognized as a parasitic infection, and treated accordingly, while other plant species were used to treat fever as a symptom, mainly focusing on lowering body temperature. The majority of anti-malarial herbal preparations were prepared from the leaves of plants Leaves and stems were used more often for malaria treatments than would have been expected in comparison to the overall medicinal preparations found in the region, while seeds of plants were employed much less frequently and other plant parts not at all [ ].

The very limited number of plants employed at the Peruvian coast to treat malaria and fevers might on a first glance surprise, if compared to studies from other regions of the country [ , ]. However, malaria has always been of relatively minor importance in the coastal desert areas, and thus it is not surprising that few remedies are employed. There are indications that health practices are in the process of changing, and traditional healers start to treat a patient with prepared western remedies e.

Little scientific evidence exists to prove the efficacy of the species employed as malaria remedies in Northern Peru. Sambucus spp. Hypericum spp. The genus Salix is well known as a source of Acetylsalicylic acid, widely used as analgesic and antipyretic. A wide variety of Solanaceae, including species of the genera Cestrum and Solanum , are widely used as mosquito repellents or as larvicidels [ , ], or are traditionally used as malaria treatment [ , , , — ], while Verbena sp.

Forty-seven plant species belonging to 42 genera and 30 families were used by curanderos in Northern Peru to treat cancerous conditions and diabetes symptoms. Asteraceae as the most important anticancer and antidiabetic family is clearly over-represented in comparison to the overall medicinal flora, while most other medicinally important families are either under-represented or completely missing from the portfolio [ ].

The majority of anti-cancer and anti-diabetic herbal preparations were prepared from the leaves of plants Leaves and stems were more often used than characteristic for the overall medicinal preparations found in the region, while whole plants were employed less frequently [ ]. This is significantly different from the regional average of application. Little scientific evidence exists to date to prove the efficacy of the species employed as anti-cancer and anti-diabetic remedies in Northern Peru.


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Only Schinus molle is well known for the treatment of diabetes in Bolivia [ ] and showed promise against cancer in Brazil [ ]. Thevetia peruviana and Arctium lappa [ ] both showed promise in in vitro cancer studies. A wider variety of plants are used as diabetes treatments. Musa sp. Mulberries Morus sp. Mimosa sp. Aloe has indeed shown some efficacy for diabetes treatment [ , ]. Johnson [ ] found that the Giksan used Achillea sp.

Bletter [ ] reported Cat's claw Uncaria tomentosa as diabetes plant for the Ashaninka in Peru. Rubus sp. Olive has indeed shown to regulate glucose levels [ ]. Other studies refer to Artichokes Cynara cardunculus , [ ], Chickpeas Cicer arietinum [ ], Ocimum sp.

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Many of the introduced species are cultivated in fields and gardens, but the majority of the indigenous species are collected wild. This indicates that a widespread system of plant collectors is needed to supply the fresh plant material needed in Traditional Medicine. Most healers agreed, however, that in most cases dried material could be used if fresh plants were not available. Fresh material was not used in these situations. Healers in Northern Peru often employ very sophisticated mixtures of a variety of plants in their treatments. The use of single species for treatments was rare.

Most commonly, plant material was boiled in water, or in some cases in sugarcane alcohol aguardiente to extract the active compounds. In some cases, plant material was macerated in cane alcohol or wine for longer periods of time before use. The curanderos all had strikingly exact recipes for treatment, with very specific quantities of plant material used to prepare remedies. These quantities did not differ greatly from one healer to another. Also, the amount of a specific remedy that was given to a patient was very similar among the different curanderos.

Seven percent of all plant uses entailed the preparation of a seguro , a bottle or small flask filled with plant material along with various perfumes. This amulet has to be carried by the patient at all times, or it is placed in the house and used for periodic blessings. Seguros contained anything from a handful to more than three-dozen different ingredients. In two percent of the plant uses, the material was employed to fabricate charms, and, in one percent of all applications, the plant material was burned as incense, with the smoke inhaled for treatment.

Many traditional healers rely on herbal preparations, often consisting of complex ingredients and with very specific preparations, to treat their patients' illnesses, rather than just employing single plant extracts. However, studies documenting these preparations and analyzing the composition of the mixtures are almost nonexistent. Cano and Volpato [ ] and Mur et al. No information however was available for the very species rich Andean pharmacopoeia.

The present publication attempts to give a detailed overview on the herbal mixtures employed by traditional practitioners in Northern Peru and the specific applications they are used for, in order to provide a baseline for more in-depth studies on efficacy and safety of these preparations, as well as the possible applications in the public health system.

The investigation of plant mixtures used in traditional medicine in Northern Peru yielded a total of herbal preparations used to treat different afflictions [ ]. The classification of diseases followed the curandero's terminology. To allow a better overview, the different disease concepts were grouped in more inclusive disease categories, according to their similarity. In many cases, healers used only one or two common mixtures to treat an illness.

This degree of consensus between different healers shows great sophistication in the diagnosis and treatment of specific disorders. This was particularly obvious in the treatment of neurological and psychosomatic problems, for which the majority of plants and mixtures were employed. Up to 49 different preparations were used to treat the same disease.

This seems to indicate a high degree of experimentation that is still ongoing in order to find a working cure for unspecific symptoms, and that there is very little consent amongst the individual healers as which cure to employ. Of these, 64 species Amongst the plants employed, Asteraceae expectedly stood out, and the number of species of this family used was comparable to the percentage of Asteraceae in the medicinal flora of the region [ ]. The overwhelming number of plant mixtures contained 2—7 different plant species, although, in the most extreme case, 27 distinct species were included.

A large number of species appeared in various mixtures. The plant species for each mixture are listed in the order given by the curanderos in order to express the importance of the individual species, rather than providing an alphabetical listing. For a detailed overview on quantities and parts of each plant use, see [ ]. The cluster analysis confirmed that mixtures used for applications like inflammations, infections, and blood purification, as well as cough, cold, bronchitis or other respiratory disorders, or urinary infection and kidney problems had similar floristic compositions.

However, a few interesting clusters stood out Mixtures used for nervous system disorders, anxiety, and heart problems often had a similar composition, for example, as did mixtures for prostate and bladder problems; kidney problems, gallbladder disorders, diabetes, and cholesterol were treated with the same preparations as were rheumatic illnesses and asthma. Our research suggests that this indicates that the local healers have a very detailed understanding of disease concepts and are choosing their remedies very carefully based on what underlying cause they diagnose; that is, heart problems get treated differently if they are caused by stress, versus a physical agent.

The floristic composition as well as the complex phytochemistry of traditional herbal mixtures remains woefully understudied. Our research indicates that a large number of plants used in traditional healing in Northern Peru are employed in often-sophisticated mixtures, rather than as individual plants. Peruvian curanderos appear to employ very specific guidelines in the preparation of these cocktails and seem to have a clear understanding of disease concepts when they diagnose a patient, which in turn leads them to often apply specific mixtures for specific conditions.

There seems to be a widespread exchange of knowledge about mixtures for treatment of bodily diseases, while mixtures for spiritual, nervous system, and psychosomatic disorders appear to be more closely guarded by the individual healers. Traditional herbal mixtures, with their wealth of compound fragments and new compounds originating in the preparation process, could well yield new clues to the treatment of a wide variety of disease. The present paper provides detailed baseline information on composition and use of traditional mixtures in Northern Peru, and further studies to compare the compound composition of these preparations versus single plant extracts, as well as investigations comparing efficacy and toxicity of herbal preparations versus their single plant ingredients, are in progress.

Plants with potential medicinal activity have recently come to the attention of Western scientists, and studies have reported that some are bioactive [ ]. Potentially active compounds have been isolated from a few of the plants tested [ — ]. In order to evaluate the antibacterial activity of species used in TM in Northern Peru, plant samples of at least species were tested in simple agar-bioassays for antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, Salmonella enterica typhi , and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. A much larger number of ethanolic plant extracts showed any antibacterial activity compared to water extracts for all antibacterial activity.

One-hundred ninety-three ethanolic extracts and 31 water extracts were active against S. In twenty-one cases, only the water extract showed activity for all bacterial species compared to ethanol only. None of the aqueous extracts were active against the other three bacteria, with the activity of the ethanolic extracts also much reduced, as only 36 showed any activity against E. Eighteen ethanol extracts were effective against both E. The ethanol extract of Dioscorea trifida was effective against E.

Caesalpinia spinosa was the only species that showed high activity against all bacteria, including Salmonella enterica Ttyphi and Pseudomonas aeruginosa , when extracted in ethanol. Two hundred twenty-five extracts came from plant species that are traditionally employed against bacterial infections.

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One hundred sixty-six This shows clearly that plants traditionally used as antibacterial had a much higher likelihood to be antibacterially active than plants without traditional anti-bacterial use. However, the efficacy of plants used traditionally for antibacterial related applications did vary, which underlines the need for studies aiming to clearly understand traditional disease concepts. A variety of species showed higher efficacy than the control antibiotics employed, for example, Ambrosia peruviana, Iresine herbstii, Niphogeton dissecta, Opuntia ficus-indica, Smilax kunthii were particular effective against Escherichia coli.

Berberis buceronis, Caesalpinia paipai, Caesalpinia spinosa, Cestrum strigilatum, Cydista aequinoctialis, Dioscorea trifida, Escallonia pendula, Escobedia grandiflora, Eucalyptus citriodora, Eucalyptus globulus, Eugenia obtusifolia, Eustephia coccinea, Gallesia integrifolia, Geranium sessiliflorum, Hedyosmum racemosum, Iresine herbstii, Lycopersicon hirsutum, Mauria heterophylla, Phyllanthus niruiri, Porophyllum ruderale, Salvia cuspidata, Senecio chionogeton, and Smilax kunthii, Tagetes erecta , and Taraxacum officinale showed high activity against Staphylococcus aureus.

The same holds true for Ephedra americana, Gentianella bicolor , and Mandevilla cf. However, extracts of these three species were highly inconsistent in their efficacy. The comparison of closely related species traditionally employed for different purposes e. The example of Plantago sericea var. However, we did find examples like Chuquiragua spp. On the other hand, extracts of the same species traditionally used to treat infections often produced vastly diverging results when collected from different localities.

Good examples are Iresine herbstii , Schinus molle , Eustephia coccinea , Oreopanax eriocephalus , Myroxylon balsamum , Spartium junceum , or Gentianella dianthoides. Most of these species did not produce particularly high inhibition rates in any case and were not the first choice of healers when trying to find remedies for bacterial infections. Many remedies used for spiritual healing and other noninfection purposes did show antibacterial efficacy in vitro but were not listed as such by the local healers. This might be explained by the fact that they either are very inconsistent in their activity e.

Almost all remedies are traditionally prepared as water extracts, although ethanol in the form of sugarcane spirit is readily available. This might at a first glance seem astonishing, given the low efficacy of water extraction found in this study. However, initial results from Brine-Shrimp toxicity assays indicate that the ethanolic extracts are by far more toxic than water extracts of many species, and thus ethanolic extraction might in many cases not be suitable for application in patients.

This again indicates the considerable sophistication and care with which traditional healers in northern Peru chose their remedies for a specific purpose. If the botanical documentation of Peruvian medicinal plants has been neglected, investigations of the phytochemical composition of useful plants are lagging even further behind. The number of other Peruvian plants for which at least some phytochemical studies exist is still miniscule, and most efforts are fuelled by the fads and fashions of the international herbal supplement market.

Studies involving multiple species were initiated as late as the s [ ]. Minimum inhibitory concentrations found for Peruvian plant extracts ranged from 0. The very high values in many species indicate only a very limited antibacterial efficacy. The ethanolic extracts exhibited stronger activity and a much broader spectrum of action than the water extracts.

The most interesting activity on E. Only the latter species also showed strong activity in the aqueous extract. A much wider range of species, including most species active against E. Porophyllum ruderale, Senecio sp. Most of them however did not portray any efficacy in aqueous extract. Hypericum laricifolium , Hura crepitans , Caesalpinia paipai , Cassia fistula , Hyptis sidifolia , Salvia sp. Most MIC values reported in this work were largely higher than those obtained for South American species [ — ] and African studies [ ].

However, they were in range or lower than concentrations reported by [ , ]. Most species effective against S. Interestingly many species used in cleansing baths also showed high activity against this bacterium. Many of these species are either employed topically, or in synergistic mixtures, so that possible toxicity seems not to be an issue. The species effective against E. Most of the plants used by the healers have antibacterial activity, but only 8 of the plants 5. Of these 8 plants, 5 are used to treat diseases believed to be in bacterial origin by TM, one is a disease not believed to be caused by bacteria and one is used for undefined treatment purposes.

Nine out of plants 6. Diseases such as diabetes often compromise the health of the individual and antibacterial treatments can be warranted for secondary complications of the disease. In addition, TM does determine sometimes that diseases not originally believed to be bacterial in origin, such as ulcers, are actually caused by bacteria. Currently, TM is seriously looking the role of inflammation which can certainly be bacterial in origin in heart disease. Crude medicinal activities have been investigated for a wide variety of plants [ 86 , , , — , — ].

But while toxicity assays are available for many countries e. Brine shrimp Artemia is frequently used as agent in laboratory assays to determine toxicity values by estimating LC 50 values median lethal concentration [ , — ]. The Brine shrimp lethality activity of aqueous and ethanolic extracts of plant species belonging to genera of 91 families used in Peruvian traditional medicine was tested [ ]. Traditional preparation methods are taking this into account; most remedies are prepared as simple water extracts, thus avoiding potential toxic effects. Excellent examples where the water extracts are nontoxic, while the ethanolic extracts show high toxicity are Ocimum basilicum L.

In contrast, Cinchona officinalis L. Species which showed higher levels of toxicity were Bejaria aestuans L. Achillea millefolium L. Solanaceae e. Multiple extracts from different collections of the same species showed in most cases very similar toxicity values. However, in some cases, the toxicity of extracts from different collections of the same species varied from non-toxic to highly toxic.

Examples for such variation in toxicity were found for Chersodoma deltoidea M. Dillon and Sagast.


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In case of these frequently used species, harvest time, collection locality, or use of specific plant parts might be important for a reduction of toxicity. The toxicity values reported fall in the range reported by other authors [ ]. The differences in medicinal plant use between Southern Ecuador and Northern Peru are striking. Both regions share the same cultural background and have a very similar flora, with a comparable number of plant species that to a large extent overlap. The differences in traditional medicinal use can be explained by comparing the development of the pharmacopoeia of both areas from the start of the colonial period until today.

Colonial chroniclers often included detailed descriptions of useful plants in their reports. The most comprehensive early accounts of the economically interesting flora of Northern Peru and Southern Ecuador were provided by Monardes [ 15 ], Acosta [ 16 ], and Cobo [ 17 , 18 ].


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  4. Later treatments were included in Alcedo [ ]. Finally, Ruiz provided the first real botanical inventory of the region [ 22 ]. The work includes detailed paintings for every species, which allows a close comparison with the modern medicinal flora, indicating that the vernacular names of useful plants have not changed significantly since colonial times. It contains useful plant species. A preliminary review of this work seems to indicate that the number of plants used has not changed significantly since the late 's, with over plant species still found in modern Peruvian markets.

    Twenty-seven percent have completely disappeared from modern day use. A cluster analysis of the colonial and modern plant inventories showed a striking explanation for the use differences between Ecuador and Peru and helps to explain why the plant inventories changed so significantly in the 18th century.

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