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Edition 10: August 2009

Edition 10: August 2009

What Herb is That?
Alfalfa
'Father of all Herbs' rich in minerals and protein

ALFALFA has been used as a herbal medicine for over 1,500 years. Alfalfa was first discovered by the Arabs and they named it AL-FAL-FA meaning Father of all Foods, so convinced were they of its benefits to the body.
The ancient Greeks used alfalfa to treat a variety of diseases including bladder and kidney conditions. Traditional Chinese medicine uses alfalfa to treat kidney stones. In Hindu societies, ayurvedic physicians used the leaves for treating poor digestion.
No wonder it cured malnutrition, restoring energy and vitality to the body; as it is very high in protein, calcium, plus other minerals, vitamin A, vitamins in the B group, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. The chlorophyll, enzymes, minerals, vitamins all aid digestion and help stimulate lagging appetites. The eight essential enzymes assist in digesting all four classes of food: proteins, fats, starches and sugars. (Lipase – fat splitting; Amylase – acts on starches; Coagulase – coagulates or clots blood; Emulsin – acts upon sugar; Invertase - converts cane sugar to dextrose; Peroxidate – oxidizing effect of the blood; Pectinase – forms vegetable jelly; Protase – digests proteins)
Alfalfa contains Vitamin U. It is used to treat peptic ulcers, colitis and gastritis; and has an effect on secretory, acid-forming, and enzym- atic functions of the intestinal tract.
The most promising value for alfalfa as a health treatment is in the area of cholesterol control. Based on empirical evidence, fibres and chemicals in alfalfa appear to stick to cholesterol, keeping it from staying in the blood or depositing in blood vessels. More of the harmful types of cholesterol leave the body, while high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the ‘good’ cholesterol, appears to be unaffected by the ingestion of alfalfa.
Alfalfa may also have some ability to enhance immune system function. The chlorophyll in alfalfa develops a barrier against bacterial invasion by its stimulation effect on connective and granulation tissue growth.
Useful during pregnancy
Many of pregnancy's discomforts are safely alleviated by the use of alfalfa, including morning sickness, heartburn, constipation and anaemia. Alfalfa can raise the vitamin K level of pregnant women, reducing postpartum bleeding, and it can increase the vitamin K stores in newborns, reducing bleeding problems for them.
Alfalfa is a galactagogue, a substance that induces lactation, increasing and sustaining milk supply.
Alfalfa, like other leguminous crops, is a known source of phytoestrogens. It has been used as an estrogen replacement in order to mitigate premenstrual syndrome and can be useful in menopause as well.
Alfalfa assists with the treatment of urinary tract infections, and kidney, bladder and prostrate disorders. Chemicals in alfalfa have mild diuretic properties, which promote the loss of water from the body. Therefore, alfalfa may relieve swelling caused by excess water accumulation. It can also relieve pain associated with arthritis and bursitis due to its anti-inflammatory and alkalising properties.
 Alfalfa is proving to be an effective agent in battling heart disease, stroke and cancer. Never eat the seeds of alfalfa. It is the leaves used in healing. Alfalfa works effectively in treating weak and brittle nails. It can also improve bad breath.
Today alfalfa is primarily used as feed for dairy cattle—because of its high protein content and digestible fibre—and secondarily for beef cattle, horses, sheep and goats. It has been known as the ‘Queen of Forages’.
Humans also eat alfalfa sprouts in salads and sandwiches. Human con- sumption of fresh mature plant parts is rare and limited primarily by alfalfa's high fibre content. Dry alfalfa leaf is commercially available as a dietary supplement in several forms - alfalfa has a long history of health benefits. Some consider it a super food!


Fact File

Name: Alfalfa
Latin name: Medicago sativa
What is it? Alfalfa is a flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae cultivated as an important forage crop. In the UK, Australia and New Zealand it is known as lucerne and as lucerne grass in south Asia. Alfalfa is a cool season perennial legume living from three to twelve years, depending on variety and climate. It resembles clover with clusters of small purple flowers. The plant grows to a height of up to 1 metre (3 ft), and has a deep root system sometimes stretching to 4.5 metres (15 ft). This makes it very resilient, especially to droughts.
Main Properties of Alfalfa: Great digestive aid; Aids in the assimilation of protein, fats, and carbohydrates; Rich in vitamins and minerals and protein; Alkalising, excellent blood purifier; Prevents atherosclerosis; Lowers blood sugar levels; Helps to build and revitalize the body; Heals peptic ulcers; Aids the kidneys in ridding the body of excess fluid and regulates the bowels; An immune-system stimulant; Safe in pregnancy and lactation remedies; Promotes normal blood clotting.


Essential Oil of the Month
Sandalwood
Transform sexual energy into spiritual wisdom

THE ESSENTIAL Oil of Sandalwood is extracted through steam distillation of the wood from matured Sandal trees - the older the tree, the richer the aroma and the more oil produced.
There are three types of Sandalwood: Indian (Santalum album), which is on the verge of extinction and is exorbitantly costly; Hawaiian (Santalum ellipticum); and Australian (Santalum Spicatum).
The Australian variety is commercially more in use, since the first two varieties are not as available, and it shares most of the wonderful healing properties. Admirers have called Sandalwood oil ‘Liquid Gold,’ due to its precious nature.
 One of the oldest incense materials, Sandalwood has been in use for at least 4,000 years.
It held a place of dignity and priority in many civilizations and religions of the world, especially in Hindu Religion, where it is considered holy and indispensable in all the social and religious rituals and ceremonies from the birth until death.  It was burned and offered to Gods and Goddesses in temples and many accessories such as rosaries and staffs are still made from this wood.
Sandalwood is a very good antiseptic. It is safe for internal applications (only diluted and under professional guidance) and helps protect internal wounds and ulcers from infections.
Similarly, when applied on skin, it treats wounds, sores, acne and irritations and cures infections.  It is great for conditions that are slow to heal; eczema, psoriasis and athlete’s foot all respond steadily.
Cosmetically, it is balancing, soothing and hydrating especially for dry, ageing or weathered skin.  It keeps  skin fresh, cool and deodorised.  San- dalwood is used extensively in natural perfumery as a base note and fixative.
It has a nice cooling effect and gives relief from all types of inflammations in the digestive, nervous, circulatory and excretory systems of the body. It soothes inflammations in the urinary system and is also anti-phlogistic - giving relief from inflammations resulting from fever and viral infections. 
It is anti-spasmodic, being a relaxant and sedative in nature, relaxing nerves, muscles and blood vessels from spasm and contraction; thus it is helpful in treating cramps, aches and coughs.
Sandalwood also lowers blood pressure and has been taken with liquid by patients suffering from high blood pressure.
The oil in a massage blend counters fibromyalgia pain and eases lupus discomforts. This blend will also help sprains, joint pain and swellings.


Tips
Sandalwood keeps the brain cool and is indicated for anxiety, fear, stress and restlessness. It induces relaxation, calmness, concentration, inner vision and positive thoughts. The anti-anxiety and sleep enhancing effects can be easily utilized simply by placing a drop on the wrists and massaging-in. The essential oil will naturally diffuse into the bloodstream, and its aroma will be noticeable for some time.


Although very mild, this oil has some astringent properties which induce contraction in gums, muscles and skin. This proves beneficial in terms of strengthening hold of gums on teeth; in this capacity it is excellent as an additive for toothpastes.
The disinfectant property of Sandalwood keeps away microbes and small insects which is why it is extensively used in incenses, sprays, fumigants and evaporators to disinfect the whole surrounding, whilst also setting a romantic mood.
Psychologically sandalwood facilitates spiritual practice and is considered useful to meditation and yoga for centering and calming the mind. It calms irritation born of frustration, quiets and stills the mind, opening us up to our true spiritual potential. It is associated with both the crown and base chakras.
It is used to arouse Kundalini in tantric rituals, meaning that it arouses sexual energy for transformation into spiritual wisdom. Sandalwood may also be helpful in cases where depression and anxiety has lead to sexual difficulties.
Using this oil quells feelings of isolation and restores equilibrium by supporting the nervous system and circulation.
This oil can be a very good health tonic for all, especially for growing children and can be safely given to them for general wellbeing. It enhances their learning capacity by improving memory and aiding concentration. Sandalwood is so emotionally grounding, helping to put life into perspective, while closing the file on past trauma.
The anti-cancer effect of sandalwood was studied in relation to skin cancer and UVB radiation exposure.
 The studies indicated that it has a significant effect in reducing the potential of skin cancer development. One study used a 5 per cent topical solution one hour prior to exposure to ultraviolet rays to produce this effect.


Fact File

Name: Sandalwood Essential Oil
Latin name: Santalum spicatum,
Santalum alba, Santalum ellipticum
Aroma: Warm, rich and balsamic. Sweet and woody – increases over time and very enduring.  It is very thick and viscous.
Properties:  Anti-depressant,  antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti spasmodic, astringent, cicatrisant, carminative, diuretic, disinfectant, emollient, expectorant, hypotensive, memory booster, sedative and tonic.
Blends well with: bergamot, black pepper, clove, geranium, lavender, myrrh, rose, vetivert and ylang-ylang.

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