Information About Nutrients and Herbs - Uses, Benefits
One of the Brassica family, cabbage provides a rich source of vitamin C - in fact, the vitamin C content of cabbage is greater than that of oranges. It also contains a large number of minerals, including iodine, sulphur, calcium, magnesium and potassium. The outer leaves contain more vitamin E and calcium than the inner leaves. If prepared as sauerkraut, it makes an excellent food for strengthening the intestines and promoting a healthy flora. Cabbage is recommended in natural medicine practice for improving digestion, treating constipation, preventing the common cold and alleviating depression. It also contains a factor called vitamin U, which is a remedy for ulcers, and raw cabbage juice has been reported to assist in the care of both peptic and duodenal ulcers. The recommended method is to drink half a cup of cabbage juice two or three times a day between meals, on an empty stomach. Many of the healing properties of cabbage CABBAGE as a blood purifier are due to its high sulphur content. Grated cabbage can also be made into a poultice to be applied externally in the treatment of wounds, varicose veins and leg ulcers.
Cadmium is a toxic element - as little as one-half to one ppm in water can be toxic - and, once in the body,admium displaces zinc and accumulates in the kidneys, liver and blood vessels, probably for life. Cadmium occurs naturally in zinc ores, but is also a typical environmental pollutant and, since it is present in car exhaust fumes, it pollutes the air of all major cities. It is also found in cigarette smoke - a 20-pack of cigarettes contains 20 mg of cadmium, half of which is absorbed during smoking. Nickel-cadmium battery plants are well-known sources of pollution, as are incinerators of discarded cars, and zinc and copper smelting plants. Cadmium is also contained in phosphate fertilizers, via which it can contaminate vegetation. Cadmium is also found in drinking water from corroded pipes, especially soft water which increases corrosion.
Cadmium is one of the major contributors to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, strokes and heart attacks. Emphysema patients have been found to have more cadmium in their kidneys and liver than healthy people - cigarette smoking, in particular, has been associated with emphysema because of the cadmium content of cigarette smoke.
Nutritional protection from the toxic effects of cadmium can be provided by zinc, which replaces cadmium, and by large doses of vitamin C.
Caffeine is the most prevalent stimulant in western society since it is present in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate and colas, as well as in many over-the-counter stimulants and drugs such as analgesics. It has been estimated that the average daily caffeine consumption per person is 150-225 mg, 75 per cent of which comes from coffee. A cup of coffee contains 50-150 mg of caffeine, while a cup of tea contains about 50mg and a 12-ounce can of cola contains about 35 mg.
However, caffeine consumption in heavy coffee drinkers is far higher - in some cases this can be anything up to 7,500 mg a day! The excessive and prolonged intake of coffee can cause 'caffeinism' symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, depression, constipation, frequent urination, duodenal ulcers, high cholesterol, hypertension and heart disease; it is also believed to be involved in a proneness to breast lumps, while coffee drinking during pregnancy is thought to increase the risk of miscarriage. People who are sensitive to caffeinism can exhibit some of these symptoms from as few as two cups of coffee a day. In addition, caffeine inhibits absorption of iron, promoting anaemia, it can create deficiencies of inositol, calcium and magnesium as it interferes with their absorption, and, since it raises the cholesterol level, it can increase susceptibility to heart attack. Coffee is not recommended for people with gout or kidney stones. Caffeine contains purines, which break-down in the body to uric acid, promoting the formation of kidney stones and gouty crystals.
However, a new Harvard study suggests that two to three cups of coffee a day can lower the risk of developing gallstones. Externally, coffee can be used in anemas and in poultices to heal bruises.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body, with almost all of it - 99 per cent - found in the bones and the teeth, helping to build bone mass and preventing osteoporosis (bone loss). However, the remaining 1 per cent, which is in blood, is of paramount importance to the body as tirmalizes nerve and muscle function, regulates heartbeat, enables blood clotting, helps to maintain a proper acid-alkaline balance, induces sleep and promotes skin health.
Unfortunately, absorption of calcium in the body is very inefficient and there are a number of factors needed for its proper absorption, including stomach acid (HCI), vitamins A, C and D, magnesium and protein. In addition, regular exercise will promote calcium deposition in bones, while a sedentary lifestyle depletes it, causing porous bones. Pregnant and menopausal women, especially, are very vulnerable to calcium deficiencies and bone loss unless they take calcium supplements. Older men can also be prone to calcium deficiency and also people with digestive disorders, such as ulcers or Chron's disease, because of the accompanying reduction in stomach secretions. Coffee, alcohol, soft drinks, diuretics, antacids and excess protein can all deplete calcium levels. Deficiency symptoms include brittle bones, tooth decay, nervousness, muscle aches, leg cramps, excessive menstrual flow and impaired growth. A high supplement of calcium (1-2 g per day) not only helps to reverse osteoporosis, but also treats conditions such as high cholesterol levels and hypertension. Among the best natural sources are dairy products, sesame seeds, soya beans, peanuts, green vegetables, sunflower seeds, bone-marrow soups and calcium tablets. Calcium citrate is considered to be the most efficiently absorbed form of calcium, and has the least risk of causing kidney stones. The normal Recommended Daily Allowance of calcium for adults is 800 mg, while the commended daily dosage for pregnant and lactating women is 1,200 mg. However, many experts recommend higher doses of up to 1,5000 mg per day.
This is the acid-free form of vitamin C in which calcium is used to buffer the acidity of vitamin C. It is usually recommended for people who suffer from stomach over acidity, those prone to ulcers and people with frequent heartburn.
CALENDULA (CALENDULA OFFICINA
Commonly known as marigold, calendula is an annual garden plant. An infusion of the flowers, or the fresh juice, can be used for digestive tract problems such as stomach cramps, gastritis, ulcers, colitis and diarrhoea. It has a soothing effect and can also be used for boils, bruises and wounds. Calendula has been traditionally used for its beneficial effects on skin problems. Calendula extracts penetrate the skin tissue, relax the skin and reduce swellings. Special calendula extracts are claimed to tighten the skin and improve the complexion. Available in health food stores in dried form and creams.
A calorie is a unit of energy that represents the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 g of water by one degree Celsius. In terms of human nutrition, calories are a measurement of the energy produced when food is metabolized by the body. Thus, calorific values denote the amount of heat energy yielded by different foods, and are usually expressed on food labels as Kcal (kilo calorie) units.
Different types of foods supply different amounts ofcalories - for instance, proteins and carbohydrates provide 4 Kcal per gram each, while fats provide 9 Kcal per gram - and the calories received from food are 'burned' in the course of our daily activities. Thus, in a perfect situation, the amount of calories consumed from food should equal the amount of calories spent. In such cases, the energy flow is balanced. However, when more calories are eaten than spent, the excess calories are stored as fat and the result is weight gain. Conversely, eating fewer calories than the body requires will result in weight loss. One pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories, but the daily calorie requirement for each individual varies greatly according to age, sex, body type, genetic predisposition and lifestyle.
However, not all calories are created equal. Slimmers should remember that sugar calories are more fattening than protein or complex carbohydrate calories.
CALORIE RESTRICTED DIETS
Calorie restricted diets with proper supplementation have been found to extend the life span of laboratory animals. Young animals restricted to 60 per cent of their normal food intake lived up to 50 per cent longer than animals with no food limits. In addition, the animals that ate less were much healthier and looked youthful into their old age. The anti-ageing effects of calorie restriction were discovered as early as 1934, but until recently it was not known how this works. However, research has now shown that food restriction retards the ageing of the pineal gland. This is the gland that produces melatonin, a hormone that greatly influences our health and well-being, and production of which decreases with age. Studies done by life insurance.
CAMOMILE (MATRICARIA CHAMOMlILA)
An annual plant, native to the Mediterranean countries, it is now widely cultivated in more temperate regions such as the British Isles. The herb has long been used for its calming effect and has also been found beneficial in the treatment of indigestion, colic, spasms, stomach cramps and insomnia. Camomile also has antiseptic properties and can be used for the alleviation of inflammation of the digestive tract. In addition, it is used in mouthwashes and gargles, as well as in sitz baths to relieve haemorrhoids, and in enema solutions. The dried flowers are very popular as a herb tea, which is obtainable either as tea bags or loose, in bulk. Available from supermarkets and health food stores.
This is produced from the canola variety of rapeseed which has a high content of a monounsaturated fat, oleic acid. Canola oil is often recommended because of its low saturated fat content (6 per cent), its omega-3 fatty acids (10 per cent) and especially for its monounsaturated (60 per cent), which make it safer and healthier than most other vegetable oils. The oil is used by food processing companies to make cooking oil and products such as margarine and salad dressings.
A naturally occurring fatty acid commercially derived from coconut oil. Caprylic acid has been found to have antifungal properties and is used to treat candida albicans (thrush). It is absorbed in the intestines, and the tablets should be enteric coated, or time-release, to protect them during their passage through the stomach, until they reach the intestines.Available from health food stores.
CARAWAY (CARUM CARVI)
A biennial cultivated herb, its seed are commonly used for flavouring foods, especially bread. Caraway can stimulate the appetite, relieve flatulence and improve digestion. It can also promote the onset of menstruation and alleviate uterine cramps. To prepare an infusion, use one teaspoon of crushed seeds boiled in half a cup of water. Available from supermarkets or health food stores.
As a group of organic chemical compounds, carbohydrates are classified as macronutrients. Carbohydrates molecules are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and are the body's chief source of energy. As such they are known as 'energy food'. Carbohydrates are supplied mainly from plant foods, such as grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables. Sugar is 100 per cent carbohydrate, cornflakes are 85 per cent, rice 79, flour 73, pasta 70, oats 61, bread 47, potato 20, banana 21 and apple 12 per cent. Carbohydrates come in several varieties and types: monosaccharides, or simple sugars, which include glucose, fructose and galactose, found in fruits and honey; disaccharides, the more complex sugars, which include sucrose (in cane and beet sugar), lactose (in milk) and maltose (in malted barley); and finally, polysaccharides, or complex carbohydrates, which include starch, cellulose (fibre) and glycogen. All carbohydrates except cellulose are ultimately converted in the body to glucose. This is the sole usable form of energy, and the body depends on a continuous supply of it for all its activities, mental and physical. Carbohydrates yield 4 calories per gram. The most widely used carbohydrate is sucrose, or refined sugar. Calories derived from sugar through sweetened foods and drinks have been termed 'empty calories', because these foods lack the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that accompany whole natural fruits in nature, such as the sugar cane and beets from which they are derived. Excess consumption of refined sugar can have many detrimental effects, from tooth decay, obesity and fatigue to high cholesterol levels, hypoglycaemia and diabetes. Sugar is also a stressing food.
CARDAMOM (ELE1TARIA CARDAMOMUM)
A perennial plant that grows wild in India, it is now cultivated in other tropical areas of the world. The seeds of the plant, which are enclosed in fruity pods, have both medicinal and culinary uses. Cardamom is known as a carminative, relieving flatulence, stimulating the stomach and aiding digestion. However, it is mainly used as a cooking spice or for flavouring drinks and medicines. In Arab countries it is commonly added to coffee.
A non-essential amino acid that plays a part in the utilization of fats in the body, it also helps to transport fatty acids to the mitochondria, the tiny power plants in the cells that convert fat to energy. Thus, by reducing triglyceride levels, supplemental carnitine can help to reduce angina pectoris attacks and provide protection from heart failure. Carnitine also inhibits the development of fatty liver disease induced by alcohol, and assists with weight loss, fighting fatigue and the release of more energy. Carnitine is supplied mostly from animal food (meat and dairy) but is also manufactured by the body (in the liver and kidneys) from the amino acids lysine and methionine. Carnitine deficiencies can occur in people on low-protein diets or when vitamins Band C and iron are in short supply. Carnitine supplements are widely available in health food shops and pharmacies. People likely to benefit most from carnitine supplements include strict vegetarians and vegans, slimmers on crash diets, body builders, senior citizens and people with heart or kidney disease.
CAROB (CERA TONIA SIUQUA)
Also called locust bean, carob has been known since biblical times as St John's bread. The carob is an evergreen tree, native to Mediterranean countries, which is found both wild and cultivated. The carob produces long pods containing both gum and seeds, both of which have culinary and medicinal uses.The gum, which has a flavour similar to cocoa, is rich in natural sugars such as galactomannan, calcium and minerals. Carob powder, produced from the dried gum, is now increasingly used commercially in confectionery and biscuits as a chocolate substitute for people allergic to chocolate. The food industry also uses carob as an emulsifier and stabiliser in many foods, such as ice creams, soups and salad dressings. Carob powder is available in health food stores as a cocoa substitute for home baking purposes.
This is the common name for several hundred plant pigments which are powerful antioxidants. Found in fruits such as cantaloupe, papaya and pumpkin and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes and red grapes, carotenoids absorb the dangerous sun rays that produce free radicals. These free radicals are extremely harmful, not only to plants, but also to humans where they can cause the degenerative diseases of ageing such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Thus, the inclusion in the diet of plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables containing carotenoids can help to provide protection from the damaging effects of free radicals. Some carotenoids, such as alpha, beta and gamma carotenes, are also vitamin A precursors. Non-provitamin A dietary carotenoids include lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. There are indications that lycopene, found mainly in tomatoes, may help to lower the risk of prostate cancer, while alpha carotene, found in carrots, may provide protection from other forms of cancer. Lutein and zeaxanthin found in green vegetables such as peppers, spinach, collards green and kale, were found to prevent age-related macular degeneration of the eye (AMD) which can lead to loss of central vision in people over 50. Carotenoids are also available in capsules as nutritional supplements, particularly in antioxidant formulas.
Carrageenan is a jellying compound extracted from red seaweeds (algae). Traditionally, the Irish extracted it from Irish moss and used it as a food and a remedy for respiratory diseases. Commercially, carrageenan was not produced until the Second World War, when an alternative to the Japanese agar was needed. Carrageenan is composed of several hydrocolloids, rather than a single substance. It consists of varying amounts of calcium, magnesium, ammonium, potassium and sodium salts of sulphate esters of galactose and 3,6-anhydrogalactose copolymers. The carrageenan used in food has a high molecular weight and comprises all the long chain molecules of the copolymers. This is termed 'food grade carrageenan'. Degraded carrageenan has low molecular weight with no jellying properties. Carrageenan comes in the form of a dried, translucent mucilage that swells in cold water, dissolving partially to make a jelly. It is used (in low concentrations of up to 1 per cent) in the food industry as a stabilizing, thickening, suspending and jellying agent. For example, it is extensively used as a stabilizer of milk proteins in such products as ice cream, milk shakes and milk chocolate. Degraded carrageenan was found to cause ulcerative colitis and tumours in animals. This is why use was forbidden by EEC statutory regulations, which has led to public confusion about the safety of carrageenan. However, although carrageenan undergoes some degradation in the acid environment of the stomach, small amounts do not appear to cause any harm; it is only in large amounts that it is suspected of being a health hazard.
A common root vegetable, it is one of the richest sources of beta carotene, a vitamin A precursor. Carrots are also an excellent source of vitamins B1 and B2 and of the minerals potassium, sodium and silicon. Carrots have been reported to help night vision, inhibit cataracts, treat indigestion and protect against cancer. They are also thought to be useful in treating infections of the lung, digestive system and urinary tract. Regular inclusion in the diet raw or cooked carrots, can improve skin appearance and calcium absorption, while cooked carrots can benefit people with weak digestion. Carrot juice, while pleasant on its own, also provides a good basis for the addition of other less palatable juices such as celery or beet.
Caution: It is recommended that the intake of carrot juice should be limited to no more than four cups a day since over-consumption can cause yellowing of the skin, a condition known as xanthosis.
CARTILAGE, SHARK AND BOVINE
Sharks have long been known for their high resistance to disease and wound healing ability. Unlike other vertebrates, the shark's skeleton in composed of a special cartilage, and it is to this that its healing properties are attributed.
The cartilage of the shark has been found to have strong anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects which, when used ns, can help to restore flexibility to arthritic joints and inhibit the growth of malignant tumours. Recently, attention has also been focused on bovine cartilage which appears to have similar properties. Most of the studies done have confirmed its efficacy and, in fact, suggest that much lower doses of bovine than shark cartilage are required to be effective, making its use more practical. Available from health food stores.
A small tree or shrub that is native to North America, its Spanish name means 'sacred bark', and it is the bark of the tree that has traditionally been used as a herbal laxative. In some countries it is dispensed as a prescription herb and its active ingredients include certain glycosides (anthraquinones) and bitter principles, which act on the bowels, increasing their movement, and promoting evacuation. Cascara is generally considered safe. However, when used in excessive dosages or over prolonged periods of time, it can cause toxic reactions. Cascara is available in several forms, such as the dried herb and as an extract, and it is increasingly used in laxative formulas sold in health food shops.
A bean-shaped nut that grows on a tropical evergreen tree, it was originally native to Central America but is now also grown in India, Brazil and several African countries. It is rich in protein, minerals (especially magnesium), someB vitamins and fat, and has become increasingly popular in recent years as a snack food. It is also marketed as 'cashew butter'. Due to its high fat content, it is better eaten raw than roasted. Caution: The cashew tree is related to poison ivy, and the shell of the cashew nut contains an irritating poison which, if touched, can sometimes cause skin blistering. However, this poison is present only in the shells - the kernels, which are normally sold shelled, are harmless in this respect
CAT'S CLAW (UNCARIA TOMENTOSA)
A herb which originates from the Amazon rainforest, it has been hailed in recent years as an immune system booster and has been found to be particularly beneficial in the treatment of cancer and AIDS. The herb is currently being researched in several countries, with studies checking its possible benefits in the treatment of arthritis, allergies, ulcers, cancer and acne, and there has been an increasing demand for cat's claw in health food shops where it is sold as a tea and as, capsules.
Also known as catrmint, this is an aromatic perennial herb of the mint family. Its leaves can be used to make an effective infusion for upset stomach, colic and flatulence. It can also be used in enemas. Available from health food stores, incorporated in nutritional formulas, and from herbalists.
A very nutritious vegetable of the Brassica family, it is rich in vitamins C, Bl and B2 and is a good source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sulphur. It is usually cooked but can be eaten raw or is pickled. It should be stored in the refrigerator, and when selecting cauliflower look for fresh compact heads, with no discoloration; if the buds are spread out or spotted, this means that the cauliflower is old or has been exposed too long to the sun. People with sensitive digestion may find that the raw vegetable causes flatulence or bloating and, in such cases, it is advisable to cook the cauliflower.
CAYENNE PEPPER(CAPSICUM FRUTESCENS)
Originally, a perennial plant native to the tropical regions of Central America, it is now cultivated elsewhere as an annual. The fruits, or hot peppers, commonly known as chillis, contain capsaicin, a stimulant that helps to control pain and dissolve blood clots. Chillis can stimulate the appetite and digestion, release phlegm and increase sweating and resistance to colds. In moderation, powdered chillis can help heal stomach and duodenal ulcers, promoting tissue growth through the release of histamine. Cayenne pepper is also effective 'in the treatment of ailments as diverse as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney infections, sinusitis and other respiratory problems, as well as reputedly providing a remedy for hangovers.
A popular vegetable related to carrots and parsley, it probably originated in the Mediterranean regions. The vegetable is available all year round and provides a good source of vitamins A, Bl and B2, as well as the minerals calcium, phosphorus and silicon. Especially rich in potassium and sodium, four fresh stalks of celery provide 341 mg potassium and 126 mg sodium, and their juice makes a great electrolyte replacement drink. Coumarin compounds in the celery appear to be useful in toning the heart and blood vessels. These compounds can also be useful in cases of migraine. One of them, 3-n-butyl phthalide, was found to significantly lower blood pressure. The stalks of the plant, which are rich in iron, magnesium and carotene, are usually eaten raw in salads or with dips, or used in soups and as a garnish for other foods. They are high in roughage and when eaten between meals, can help with appetite control. On the other hand, the leaves are thought to stimulate the appetite, and also increase urination and bring on menstruation. Celery juice has been used to alleviate oedema, treat rheumatism and clear skin problems and, combined with a little lemon juice, it can help to prevent a cold developing. Both the stalks and roots are used to treat hypertension, and the seeds are used as a sedative and to relieve flatulence. A decoction of the seeds can be used as a remedy for rheumatism and bronchitis and for calming frayed nerves. Dried ground celery is sold as a salt substitute for low sodium diets.
As a fibrous form of complex carbohydrate, cellulose is a component of plant cell walls that is indigestible and insoluble in water. However, it has the ability to bind with water and increase stool mass and weight, promoting bowel movement and elimination. Moreover, it also speeds up stool transit time, i.e. the time needed for food to travel from mouth to anus. Thus, it helps to prevent severe colon conditions such as onstipation, diverticulitis and cancer of the colon. Small parts of cellulose ferment and degrade in the colon, and this degradation produces short chain fatty acids which are important for the energy metabolism of the colon. A major source of cellulose is wheat bran.
CENTAURY(CENT AURIUM ERYTHRAEA)
This small annual, herb grows wild on chalk downs and sandy soils throughout Europe. The small pink or white flowers are taken as an infusion before meals to stimulate appetite and aid digestion by encouraging the liver to secrete bile. It can also act as a blood purifier and help to reduce fever. Applied externally, centaury is reputed to repel fleas and lice. Available from larger health food stores and herbalists.
Discovered in the 1960s, CM has recently received much publicity due to its beneficial effect in treating various types of arthritis. Cetyl myristoleate is an ester of a fatty acid which occurs in very small amounts in all fats and oils. It ismade by taking the fatty acid myristoleic acid, obtained from the palmitic acid in coconut and palm oils, and combining it with a long chain alcohol molecule. Commercially, CM is known as a super lubricant. At room temperature it is a waxy, buttery substance. CM was found to be beneficial in several ways for both osteoarthritis and rheumatic arthritis. It lubricates not only the inflamed joints, but also the entire body, softening the tissues, making them more pliable and enabling muscles to glide more smoothly over each other and over bursas and bones. And as a good fatty acid, CM also helps reduce inflammations. Moreover, CM appears to modulate the immune system, which may explain its beneficial effect in treating such autoimmune diseases as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus erythematosus. Several studies showed that CM can be effective in treating up to 87 per cent of various forms of arthritis. CM is sold as a food supplement on its own, but also in formulas combining such compounds as glucosamine sulphate, hydrolyzed cartilage and M.S.M. for increased effect.
The Greek' chele', means' claw', and chelation is the process by which minerals such as iron, chromium, zinc and magnesium, which are poorly absorbed, can be transported from the intestines to the bloodstream. The ions of these minerals contain electrical charges that are repelled by the cells of the membranes and, to overcome this, they have tobe held ('clawed'), or bonded, by other chemicals, usually amino acids, which neutralize the ions. As a result, the minerals, now no longer electrically charged, can easily cross the intestinal wall to the bloodstream to be utilized by the body.
Nowadays, most minerals marketed are 'amino acid chelates'. For example, chromium is chelated with picolinic acid and is usually sold as 'chromium picolinate'.
This attractive tree, a native of Europe and western Asia, produces beautiful clusters of small pink or white blossom in springtime, while its fruit is well-known in natural medicine as an effective treatment for arthritis, gout and rheumatism. Cherries are rich sources of flavonoids such as anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins which give the fruits their deep red blue colour. These flavonoids are potent antioxidants which make them useful in treating a variety of inflammations by inhibiting histamine release. They protect collagen from free radical damage, help to prevent wrinkles and also reduce uric acid levels, thus benefiting gout. 225 g of the fresh fruit a day constitutes a treatment for lowering uric acid levels and preventing attacks of gout.
This is the brand name of a strain of yeast grown on rice. It is also known as red yeast rice, and is used in food throughout Asia. Cholestin was found to contain natural ingredients that can lower cholesterol levels in a very safe way. It was reported that in conjunction with proper diet and exercise,cholestin can reduce cholestrol levels by an average of 25-40 points.
Caution: People who are already taking cholestrolreducing drugs should consult their doctors before taking cholestin.
CHICKWEED (STELLARIA MEDIA)
A common annual weed that can be found growing in almost all soils, the whole herb is useful for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Infusions of the plant relieve flatulence and constipation, and can also be used with soothing effect to bathe bruises and skin irritations. The herb can be eaten cooked as a vegetable, like spinach, or used raw in salads. The potassium in chickweed reduces food cravings, so regular infusions taken three times a day can be beneficial to slimmers. Available from health food stores, incorporated in nutritional formulas, and from herbalists.
CHICORY (CICHORIUM INTYBUS)
A perennial plant that is cultivated in North America and Europe, mainly for its edible leaves and roots, it was popular with both the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks for its culinary and medicinal properties. Infusions or decoctions of the root or flowers can stimulate the appetite, aid digestion, promote bile secretion and help to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by gallstones. Dried ground chicory is used as a coffee substitute, either on its own or, combined with cereals, in cereal coffees. Available from supermarkets, grocers and health food stores.
A green freshwater algae, chlorella is now being marketed in health food shops as a food supplement. About 60 per cent of chlorella is in the form of high-quality protein, about 20 per cent consists of carbohydrates and 10 per cent is fat. It contains more than 20 different vitamins and minerals, is a rich source of beta carotene and contains more vitatmin B12 than beef liver. Chlorella contains appreciable amounts of iron, iodine, zinc and cobalt. It is also one of the richest sources of chlorophyll and DNA. Due to its richness in essential nutrients, many beneficial effects have been attributed to chlorella. It is reputed to stimulate the immune system and help to reduce the risk of some cancers; it has also been used to treat anaemia, fatigue, hypertension, diabetes and constipation. In addition, its high chlorophyll content makes chlorella a useful blood purifier
Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants that enables photosynthesis, i.e. it enables sunshine to combine carbon dioxide with water, creating carbohydrates and oxygen. By utilizing light, chlorophyll is a primary source of plant energy. Its chemical structure is similar to haemoglobin (the red blood pigment that carries oxygen), which is why it is used in the treatment of certain anaemias. It can promote growth, metabolism and respiration and has the ability to stimulate tissue growth and wound healing Chlorophyll cream has been used to treat skin ulcers and when injected it can help to reduce cholesterol levels. It is also known as a blood purifier, detoxifier and deodorizer.
Chlorophyll has many commercial and therapeutic applications. For instance, it is widely used in colouring food and cosmetics and a common brand of breath refreshing chewing gum contains chlorophyll.
A delicious recreational food, chocolate is one of the yummy 'sins' if civilisation. Chocolate is made from the beans of the cocoa tree (theobroma cacao) a native of Mexico since the time of the Aztecs who named it 'chocolatl', and who also used its beans as currency. The beans are ground to a fatty paste, which contains the cocoa butter, and sugar and additives like lecithin and vanilla are added. (In commercial cocoa powder drinks the fatty cocoa butter is removed and starch is added). Cocoa butter is also used as a fatty ingredient in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
In spite of their high fat content, cocoa beans are rather nutritious; they supply useful amounts of protein, some B vitamins and trace elements, particularly iron and magnesium. Chocolate however, is high in sugar, a stressing food which counteracts the nutritional advantage by depleting the B vitamins. In fact, most chocolate contains more sugar than cocoa mass. Consequently, chocolates are loaded with calories; a 100 g bar of milk chocolate contains 520 calories.
Chocolate cravings are familiar to chocoholics but can also strike anyone, especially when feeling depressed. Many people crave chocolate because it contains the stimulants beta-phenylethylamine (PEA) and theobromine. PEA is an effective mood elevator for some people, who gorge themselves on chocolate when depressed. Because of the weight gain implications, it would be better to use beta phenylethylamine salt directly, than to eat a lot of chocolate. Theobromine is a milder stimulant than caffeine and is also known to stimulate the release of endorphins ('feel-good' chemicals in the brain). But, just like caffeine and theophylline, the consumption of theobromine in chocolate has been shown to stimulate the overproduction of fibrous tissue and promote the formation of breast lumps (fibrocytic breast disease).
Chocolate can give only a short-lived boost of energy because its high sugar content can rebound by triggering hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), fatigue and depression. To relieve these symptoms, more chocolate is necessary and this is how chocolate becomes addictive. Migraine sufferers or insomniacs should be aware that chocolate contains 20 mg caffeine per ounce. Chocolate is also rich in oxalic acid, which inhibits calcium absorption and promotes the formation of kidney stones in prone individuals. Its high sugar content is very damaging to teeth. Chocolate is one of the most allergenic foods and can trigger or enhance a variety of allergy symptoms in predisposed people, from laryngitis to asthma. In the author's experience, many chocolate lovers, especially children and young adults, who suffered recurring bouts of tonsillitis, were totally cured when they discontinued chocolate. But even for healthy people who use it as a quick energy treat, chocolate is best eaten in moderation. For concerned consumers, health food stores offer a variety of carob bars whose taste resembles chocolate
Cholesterol is a form of alcohol (sterol) and is a natural part of our body's cells, especially those of the brain and spinal cord, liver and kidneys. It is also abundant in egg yolks, butter and other fats and, because of this, it has been much maligned in the recent decades for its part in dogging arteries and causing heart attacks and the medical profession has issued dire warnings about the consumption of these foods. However, cholesterol is vital to the well-being of the body. For example, it is needed to produce sex and steroid hormones and bile, synthesize vitamin D, form cell membranes and insulate nerves. It is so crucial that all nucleated cells can synthesize it. The liver itself can produce up to 1 g a day, when only about half of this is provided by an average diet. Cholesterol comes in two main forms: LDL ('bad' cholesterol), which promotes cholesterol deposits and heart attacks, and HDL ('good' cholestrol), which protects the body from these harmful effects. Factors that raise cholesterol levels include smoking, stress, the contraceptive pill, coffee, sugar, sweets and nutritional deficiencies. Levels can be lowered by supplements of niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, chromium, magnesium, manganese, lecithin, pectin and DHEA. Beneficial foods for the maintenance of optimum cholesterol levels include garlic, onions, aubergine, soybeans and green tea. Exercise is also very important.
Choline is a lipotropic B vitamin that is, it emulsifies fats and helps to transport fat globules to cells. It is needed fornerve transmission, liver function and lecithin formation. The brain uses choline to produce acetylcholine, a major neurotransmitter, which conveys brain cell messages and is vital for learning and memory. Choline reduces cholesterol and maintains healthy liver, kidneys and nerves. It also reduces oestrogen, thus decreasing breast lumps and menstrual cramps. Although choline can be produced in the body, it is now considered an essential food nutrient and choline supplements are known to enhance its beneficial effects. For example, they are used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and to improve the memory and learning ability of students. Choline deficiency symptoms include fatty degeneration of the liver, nephritis (kidney disease), gallstones, high cholesterol and hypertension. Its best natural sources are egg yolk, liver, lecithin, brewer's yeast and leafy green vegetables. A recommended average daily intake is about 1000 mg. As a supplement, choline is commonly available as choline bitartrate, citrate or chloride, either on its own, or included in nutritional formulas
Chondroitin sulphates are a group of thick gelatinous materials called mucopolysaccharides or glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). These are types of water-bonded, long-chain sugars, which are formed in the body. They are found throughout the cartilage, collagen and connective tissues and help attract water into them, preserving their flexibility and protecting their matrix. The production of chondroitin sulphate in the body decreases with age, and studies have shown that this decline may result in degeneration of joints (osteoarthritis). Its richest source is the extract of sea cucumber, a marine animal related to starfish. CS and sea cucumber extracts are reported to improve various arthritic conditions, as well as tendonitis, bursitis and sport injuries. CS supplements are now available in health food stores and indicated to counter osteoarthritis by helping replenish cartilage, often in combination with other beneficial supplements such as glucosamine sulphate.
Chromium is an essential micronutrient which is mostly removed from basic foods such as sugar and flour by refining. Consequently, it is a commonly deficient nutrient in the adult population. It is principally involved in the metabolism of glucose and the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol. It is also the central constituent of GTF, the glucose tolerance factor, which enhances the function of insulin and normalizes blood sugar levels. Chromium-rich diets and chromium supplements are therefore a must for diabetics, hypoglycaemics and for anyone with a high cholesterol level suffering from hypertension. Chromium has also been shown to assist in weight loss and to increase energy levels, fighting fatigue.
Chromium is best utilized in the form of chromium picolinate, which is an elemental chromium that is chelated (combined) with picolinic acid for better absorption. The best natural sources of chromium are brewer's yeast, raw wheat germ, meat, shellfish and clams, but supplements of chromium picolinate are recommended as a safeguard against chromium deficiency. The estimated daily requirement of the mineral is 50-200 mcg for adults, and 20-80 mcg for children. Available from health food stores.
Cider vinegar is produced by the fermentations of fresh apple juice. It is both a food and a medicine, being used equally by naturopaths and cooks. It contains a combination of minerals, organic matter and acetic acid that provides its characteristic taste and smell. There are many beneficial effects attributed to cider vinegar. First of all, it is a natural astringent and inhibits diarrhoea. It improves digestion in people with low stomach acid and acts as an intestinal antiseptic, inhibiting the decaying processes in the intestines. It also helps to overcome bad breath, increases blood clotting and wound healing, alleviates allergies, increases energy and promotes hair growth. Cinder vinegar does not work in the same way for everyone, but for sufferers of any of the above symptoms it is worth a try. When used as a medicine, the normal method is to add two teaspoons of the cider vinegar to a glass of water, one to three times a day before meals. A teaspoon of honey added to the drink will make it more palatable. It has many culinary uses and it makes a good replacement for malt vinegar in many dishes, especially salad dressings.
CINNAMON (CINNAMOMUM ZEYLANICUM)
A popular spice used in cooking and for flavouring sweets and preserves, it comes from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree, grown mainly in Sri Lanka, Brazil and India.the powdered bark (sold as 'ground cinnamon') is used as a spice and also to make aromatic infusions. Cinnamon is a disinfectant and anti-flatulent. Warm cinnamon tea is a relaxant, and can be drunk at bedtime to induce sleep. In folk medicine, infusions of cinnamon are known to help relieve nausea and menstrual cramps. A teaspoon of cinnamon a day has recently been reported to prevent or delay the onset of non-insulin dependent diabetes, which develops in older age.
Clay has traditionally been used for thousands of years as a natural care for various conditions. Ancient civilizations in Latin America, Egypt and China knew the remarkable therapeutic properties of clay and used it as a medicine, both internally and externally. Nowadays, clay is obtained by digging along clean river banks. It is sun dried, purified, ground to powder and sold in bags in health food stores. Good clay, such as green clay from France or the white clay of Wyoming, is sand-free. Composed mainly of aluminium silicate, clay contains an abundance of minerals, trace elements and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, sodium and potassium, which are all easily absorbed and assimilated.
Clay has an exceptional purifying action. When dissolved in water, its particles have a negative electrical charge, which attracts and absorbs positively charged impurities. Clay is known to help stabilize acid/alkaline (PH) balance, neutralizing and disposing of toxins via natural elimination, and helps improve vitality and well-being. It protects from unfriendly intestinal bacteria, which can cause a host of illeffects such as headaches, stomach aches, food poisoning, foul body odour and fatigue. Clay helps maintain a healthy immune system and cell function, even in older people, revitalizing them without side-effects. It can be very helpful to desensitize hyperactive children whose condition may be caused by intolerances to commercial food colorings and additives. Clay can also support the treatment of most conditions, from carbuncles to arthritis.
Generally, as an internal detoxifyer for adults, 1 teaspoon of clay powder dissolved in a glass of water is taken twice daily on an empty stomach. Its use in specific conditions however, should be prescribed by a qualified practitioner. Externally, clay is now used in soap, toothpaste and shampoo. It is also used for skin applications such as face masks or clay baths. Its application absorbs impurities, promoting deep cleansing and improved circulation, resulting in younger-looking skin. Several clinics and sanatoriums in France and Germany provide a course of clay care.
Cobalt is an essential trace element in vitamin B12, which stimulates the production of red blood cells and is needed in minute amounts measured in micrograms. Cobalt is abundant in animal foods, meat, dairy and seafood, and particularly in shrimp, scallops and cod. Cobalt intake can be a problem only in strict vegetarians or vegans, since all vegetables are low in cobalt.
Even though cobalt stimulates the production of red blood cells, its use as a therapeutic agent is not advised. Overdose of cobalt can cause death in children and symptoms such as loss of appetite and nausea in adults. Cobalt added to beer to preserve its foam was shown to contribute to heart disease in heavy beer drinkersCOCOASEE CHOCOLATE
The coconut tree is thought to be native to south-east Asia and the Melanesian Islands of the Pacific Ocean but it is now grown in most of the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Coconut contains small amounts of the B vitamins and larger amounts of minerals such as, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and zinc. However, most of the fruit consists of saturated fat (92 per cent of its total fat), which makes it a good source of saturated fats for vegetarians, but a bad source of fat for people on meatcentred diets, or those with high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Coconut is considered a tonic and is used for weakness conditions.
COD LIVER OIL
Cod liver oil, which is obtained from the livers of codfish, is rich in vitamins A and D, and in omega-3 fatty acids. As a supplement,in either capsule or liquid form, it supplies the important fatty acids EP (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA is used by the body to produce prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that help reduce stickiness of the blood, making it less prone todevelop blood clots and thrombosis. EPA also reduces triglyceride levels and high blood pressure. These combined effects can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, and the mortality of those who have already suffered a heart attack. DHA, a fatty acid found only in fish oil, is a vital component of the brain, and is needed for brain development, especially during the late stages of pregnancy. DHA is very important for children and nursing mothers since it affects learning ability. It provides an important supplement to a vegetarian diet. DHA is also produced in the body from linolenic acid, which is found in linseed oil and evening primrose oil. Pure cod liver oil has been a traditional remedy for both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis arthritis. The first written reference to its use as the best care for arthritis was made by a Dutch doctor in 1849 and since the turn of the century modern science has been actively studying its benefits
Cod liver oil was found to lubricate the joints and reduce the dryness and friction in the joint bones that cause the pain and inflammation of arthritis. Unlike normal fats, which are first absorbed by the liver, the tiny droplets of cod liver oil go directly into the blood and can readily reach the joint linings. In these linings, cod liver oil is converted to mucin and hyaluronic acid, two by-products that thicken the joint fluid and help prevent bone friction at the joints. Cod liver oil has also gained a reputation for helping to care other conditions, such as dry eyes, dry ears, dry skin, bursitis, hair loss and arteriosclerosis.
Recommended reading: Cod liver oil is available from health food stores and pharmacies.
COENZYME Q I 0 (CoQ I 0)
CoQl0 is an essential nutrient that is found in every plant and animal cell. It is mainly supplied by food and, as its name implies, it is a vital catalyst - a spark plug in the conversion of food to energy within cells. In fact, CoQl0 releases 95 per cent of the energy required for life and, in this respect, a deficiency of this nutrient can cause fatigue, hypertension and heart disease. CoQ 1 0 also has many other important roles: it is a strong antioxidant, protects oxidation of fats and prevents brown age spots; it strengthens and protects heart function by reducing heartbeat irregularities, hypertension and angina pectoris. CoQ1O supplementation has been found to be very beneficial in halting gum recession, one of the main causes of tooth loss. It can also help stimulate weight loss, while increasing energy and avoiding fatigue. The richest food sources of this nutrient are found in beef heart and other organ meats such as liver and kidney. Smaller amounts are contained in plants such as spinach, alfalfa, soybeans and potato. Supplemental capsules of CoQl0 are widely available in health food shops.
COFFEE SEE CAFFEINE, COFFEECOLLAGEN TYPE
Research from the early nineties has revealed a new natural, safe supplement that can efficiently benefit various arthritic conditions. Type II collagen is normally extracted from the sternal cartilage of chickens and should not be confused with collagen sold in beauty stores which is neither the right kind nor properly purified.
Type II chicken collagen is a protein that is the main structural part of cartilage. The painful symptoms of arthritis are due to damage to or wearing out of the cartilage around joints with ensuing inflammation. Collagen II helps rebuild joint cartilage by supplying it with the necessary proteins needed for growth and maintenance. Healthy, strong cartilage is the key to pain free movement and elastic joints. Collagen II was found essential to stop cartilage deterioration and to repair joint cartilage, keeping it strong and elastic. Moreover, collagen II also contains naturally occuring glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates, both of which are well known to help repair surrounding tissues of the joints. In this sense, collagen II is a complete arthritis formula, with many patients attesting to its pain-relief ability. Available from health food stores, collagen II is best made from organic, hormone-free chickens, free from any additives and preservatives. Collagen II is considered a safe, non-toxic nutritional supplement with no known side effects. Its powder is normally taken in 1 heaped teaspoon 3 times a day before meals.
COMFREY (SYMPHYTUM OFFICINAUS)
A perennial plant, which grows widely in Europe and North America, comfrey leaves were often added to salads. Its root, the part used medicinally, is rich in calcium and mucilaginous substances. The root is soothing and was used to provide intestinal lubrication while inhibiting germs such as E. coli. It is also rich in allantoin, a substance which promotes wound healing when applied topically in poultices. It can also be added to bath water to improve the complexion.
Until the 1980s, comfrey tablets and teas were available in health food shops. Due to its astringent qualities, the herb was used to halt diarrhoea and internal bleeding, and particularly to help heal gastric and duodenal ulcers. However, comfrey was then found to contain pyrroliziidine alkaloids, compounds reported to cause liver disease and cancer if taken over a long period of time. As a result, the free sale of comfrey tablets and teas was banned by the US FDA, and comfrey is now mainly available as ointments, extracts and salves for external use.
Copper is an abundant trace element that aids the absorption of iron. It is also involved in many enzyme activities and reduces histamine levels, alleviating allergies. Although an essential element, only very small amounts of copper are required by the body and even small excesses can be dangerous, causing disorders such as depression, arthritis, hypertension and heart attack. Among those most vulnerable in this respect are users of drinking water supplied from copper pipes, smokers and women on the contraceptive pill. Zinc supplements can help to reduce excess copper levels, while the best natural sources are soybeans, legumes; whole wheat, prunes, liver, seafood and molasses. The normal daily requirement for adults is 2 mg. To protect from overdose damage, an upper intake limit was set at 10 mg per day.
CORIANDER (CORlANDRUM SATIVUM)
A small annual plant native to Mediterranean countries, its leaves are used for their distinctive flavour in salads and cooking. However, medicinally, the seeds are the most important part of the plant and an infusion of coriander seeds taken after meals can strengthen digestion and relieve flatulence; it is also beneficial for arthritis and rheumatism. Up to 3 infusions a day can be consumed. Widely available from supermarkets and health food stores.
Also called maize, corn is a cereal grass related to grains such as wheat, rice, oats and barley, and was used for thousands of years as a staple grain by the Indians of Central America. Its food value and wide variety of uses make it not only one of the foremost crops currently grown in the USA, but also one of the most important crops in the world. Cornmeal, which has extensive culinary uses, is widely available and a vitally important ingredient in the coeliac diet. Fresh corn on the cob has a delicate sweet flavour which is lost soon after harvesting. It provides a good source of vitamins A, B1, B2, niacin, and minerals such as iron, copper, phosphorus and magnesium. Corn silk, the fine tassel on the top of the corn cob, can be made into an infusion which soothes the urinary passages and acts as a diuretic. This can be very beneficial in cases of kidney stones and cystitis, but to be effective several cups of the infusion should be drunk each day.
Fresh cranberries and cranberry juice have been widely acclaimed in recent years as a treatment for bladder infections such as cystitis. A group study of people suffering with urinary tract infections found that a dose of 500ml of cranberry juice had a beneficial effect in 73 per cent of the cases. Urinary tract infections can occur when bacteria adhere to the lining, or mucosa, of the bladder and urethra and infect it. Cranberry juice contains components that reduce the ability of bacteria to stick to the mucosa, thus preventing these infections. A recent study from Tel Aviv University in Israel suggests that compounds in cranberries may be effective against Helicobacter pylori, which increases the risk of a type of stomach cancer. Cranberry juice and tablets are available from health food stores
CREAM OF TARTAR
Cream of tartar or potassium bitartrate is a natural leavening agent derived from grape juice, which is used both at home and commercially. It is a white crystalline powder, C4 HS K06, which is also used for its buffering and emulsifying action and for its beneficial antioxidant effect. Cream of tartar is more suitable than baking soda for hypertensive people on low-sodium diets because it contains potassium, not sodium. It is also non-irritating and better tolerated by people with weak digestion or low gastric secretions. Baking soda is known to cause various symptoms in sensitive people, such as heartburn and dyspepsia. Baking powder may be even worse since, in addition to sodium bicarbonate, another chemical, acid sodium pyrophosphate, is often added. Another point to consider is that cream of tartar is required in much smaller amounts than baking soda or powder. Cream of tartar is often balanced in equal quantities with baking soda when cooking very acid fruit to take away the sour taste and economize on sugar. For a better raising effect, one part of sodium bicarbonate is sometimes added to two parts of cream of tartar.
A new dietary supplement in health food stores, recently creatine caused great excitement when studies showed its ability to improve athletic performance. Creatine supplementation was first used by the British field and track competitors, who won gold medals in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Shortly afterwards, US champion athletes began to use creatine supplements, and from there its use spread to the rest of the athletic world. Creatine is not a steroid or a drug. It is a natural chemical that is synthesized in the body from the three amino acids, arginine, methionine and glycine. It is mainly stored in the skeletal muscles as phosphocreatine, the precursor of ATP, the body's prime energy chemical. Creatine is a part of a system that supplies immediate energy, arid creatine supplements can produce a burst of energy. Creatine boosts muscle mass and builds voluminous, massive muscles, which is a great boon to body builders; it also increases energy, endurance and power, and can speed recovery, enabling frequent increase in exercise.
The richest dietary sources of creatine are meat and fish, especially beef, which contains 2 g per poundTypically, about 2 g a day are normally synthesized by the body and an additional 2 g can come from food metabolism. To increase sports performance, creatine supplements are usually taken in 5 g doses, 1-4 times a day, depending on whether the athlete is starting to load the muscles with creatine or is just maintaining its level. Creatine absorption is greatly improved when taken with insulin-releasing carbohydrates, such as grape juice. Vegetarians usually have a low intake of creatine.
A common garden vegetable, cucumber was originally native to southern Asia, but is now cultivated as an annual in many parts of the world. The fruit of the plant can be preserved by pickling in vinegar, but it is normally eaten raw as a popular addition to salads. Cucumber has diuretic properties, which can help to eliminate water from the body, and it also contains an enzyme that splits protein and cleanses the intestines. Cucumber juice is beneficial to internal inflammations, such as stomach and kidney inflammations and sore throat. Cucumbers are best eaten with the skin, which is rich in chlorophyll and silicon. Externally, a blend of juiced cucumber with equal parts of glycerin and rose water makes a soothing lotion for chapped hands and lips
CUMIN (CUMINUM CYMlNUM)
Originating in the East, cumin is one of the oldest known culinary spices and is used as a seasoning in Asian cuisine. The plant has been grown in Mediterranean countries for many centuries; it was popular with the Romans and one of the most commonly used spices in Europe in the Middle Ages. The seeds, and their essential oils, are also used medicinally as an aid to stimulate gastric juices, increase appetite and relieve flatulence. Cumin is also said to increase milk secretion in nursing mothers. The seeds are widely available.
CURCUMIN (CURCUMA LONGA) SEE TURMERIC CYSTEINE
Cysteine is an important amino acid, formed in the body from methionine (with vitamin B6), and a major supplier of the body's metabolic sulphur. It's primary source is eggs.
Cysteine has remarkable protective and detoxifying properties. It can protect from radiation and detoxify the liver. Cysteine forms the antioxidant enzyme glutathione, a potent free radical scavenger. As such, it can help prevent age-related diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart attack and cancer, and help treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Due to its ability to break down mucus, cysteine is also beneficial in the treatment of bronchitis and emphysema. It is thought to protect body cells from radiation, especially when taken in conjunction with selenium and vitamin E. It is also thought to protect the liver and brain from some of the harmful effects of alcohol and smoking. Hair is eight per cent cysteine by weight and supplements can enhance hair growth. Cysteine supplements are available in health food stores and are best taken with vitamin C, to inhibit oxidation to cystine. Diabetics should not experiment with cysteine, which could counteract with the effects of insulin.