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Information About Nutrients and Herbs - Uses, Benefits

DAIMANA

Aherb that grows wild in Mexico and is cultivated for its leaves, damiana is famous for its aphrodisiac properties. It is also a diuretic and a tonic, and is indicated for sufferers from exhaustion, and for convalescence after a disease. Damiana is available in capsules as a supplement in health food stores.

DANDELION (TARAXACUM OFFICINALE)

A wild perennial plant, known for its bright yellow flower, it grows profusely throughout the temperate regions of the world. The whole plant is highly nutritious and can be used as a tonic, diuretic and mild laxative. When prepared as an infusion, it can be used to stimulate bile formation and is also said to relieve the symptoms of jaundice and gallstones. It is useful for the relief of water retention and to cleanse the body of poisons. The fresh young leaves, which are best used before the flower forms, can be added to salads or used for juice. Available in tea bags in health food shops

DEFICIENCY DISEASES

Nutrient deficiencies cause deficiency diseases - the reasons can be many and varied. For example, a deficiency may result from poor vitamin intake due to an unbalanced dietpoor absorption of nutrients due to low digestive juices or enzymes, crash diets, stress, smoking, alcohol, the contraceptive pill, or medication. Similarly, deficiency diseases can have many symptoms: a deficiency of niacin can cause high cholesterol level; vitamin B12 deficiency can be reflected in fatigue and depression; calcium deficiency can cause painful leg cramps; vitamin C deficiency can cause bleeding and inflamed gums; vitamin B6 deficiency can cause kidney stones, allergies and morning sickness in pregnancy. To avoid or correct nutrient deficiencies, it is best to balance the diet with fresh unprocessed food, and the addition of food supplements such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes and amino acids. Determining specific supplementation should always be done in consultation with a qualified nutritionist. However, for general maintenance purposes multivitamin formulas can be taken according to doses prescribed on labels.

Caution: Some nutrients, especially in higher potencies, can cause reactions in sensitive persons. The use of higher potencies requires professional advice.

DESICCATED LIVER

This is dried beef liver which is available as tablets, capsules and powder for use as a food supplement. Desiccated liver is a rich source of the B-complex vitamins, as well as vitamins A and D. It also contains minerals such as iron, calcium, copper and phosphorus, together with protein and cholesterol. Desiccated liver is good for anaemia, weakness and particularly in the alleviation of stress. The best products are those made from organically grown Argentinian beef liver.

DEVIL'S CLAW (HARPAGOPHYTVM PROCUMBENS)

A native of Namibia, this thorny plant has been found to reduce cholesterol and uric acid levels and is indicated in folk medicine for a variety of conditions, especially for gout and arthritis. It is available in health food stores in tablet form.

DHEA (DEHYDROEPIANDROSTERONE)

An abundant hormone that is synthesized by the body from cholesterol. However, cholesterol levels tend to increase with age, while DHEA levels tend to drop, and this decline signals the onset of age-related diseases. DHEA deficiencies have been implicated in diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, various cancers, and even obesity.

DHEA is now available in health food shops as a supplement, and it has been found to be beneficial in many conditions including stress relief, the treatment of diabetes, and the lowering of fat and cholesterol levels. In addition, it appears to be of benefit to overweight people and those prone to heart disease, aiding in the reduction of mortality rates from heart attacks. DHEA is now being researched for further benefits such as boosting sexual drive in both men and women.

DILL (ANETHUM GRAVEOLENS)

An aromatic garden herb widely grown for its culinary and medicinal properties. Both the leaves and seeds of the plant can be used - the young leaves to add flavour and nutrientsto salads or soups and the seeds prepared as an infusion. Dill tea can relieve flatulence, strengthen digestion and stimulate appetite; it can help an upset stomach. Available from supermarkets and grocers.

DOLOMITE

A mineral rock composed of calcium and magnesium carbonates, it is sold in health food stores as dolomite tablets which contain approximately two-thirds calcium and one third magnesium. Dolomite tablets are strong alkalines and can supplement both calcium and magnesium. The tablets can help to overcome stomach acidity when taken after a meal or during heartburn. For a quick effect, dolomite powder is preferable. or 2 or 3 tablets crushed in the mouth before swallowing. In the early 1980s, the US FDA cautioned the public to limit its use of dolomite because of a suspected high content of lead in dolomite tablets. Recent studies involving 70 brands of calcium supplements indicated that dolomite does not contain more lead than several other types of calcium. However, dolomite should be used by adults only, since children under six years of age are less able to tolerate lead than adults. It is best to buy dolomite packaged under a reputable brand name which declares its purity.

DONG QUAI

A Chinese herb, the leaves of which have been used in China for centuries in the treatment of women's complaints, it has now been rediscovered by the West and found to contain phytoestrogenic components which have a balancing effect on oestrogen activity and a tonic effect on the uterus. As such, dong quai is used to treat hot flushes of menopause, pre-menstrual tension and vaginal dryness. In Chinese medicine, dong quai has also been used to treat bladder infections (cystitis), water retention (oedema) and painful menstruation. Indeed, dong quai has been found to contain coumarins, antispasmodic ingredients which relax uterine cramps. The coumarins in dong quai act also as anticoagulants and vasodilators, opening up clogged blood vessels and preventing platelet stickiness. It is also used to promote healthy pregnancy and delivery. Available in health food stores in capsule form, either on its own or in formulas.

DOPAMINE

This is one of the most important neurotransmitters, which are the brain chemicals that convey messages between nerve cells. Using dopamine as a neurotransmitter (dopaminergic system), the nerve cells release hormones needed not only for growth and healing, but also for the proper functioning of the immune system in later life. Dopamine deficiency has been found in some PMS sufferers as it suppresses the fluid retention hormone and stimulates elimination of water and salt. Inadequate levels of dopamine have been shown to result in Parkinson's disease with symptoms such as uncontrollable tremors of the limbs. An effective treatment in many cases is L-dopa, an amino acid which is converted in the brain to dopamine (and norepinephrine).

DULSE (PAIMARIA PAIMATA)

A red and blue pigmented seaweed, dulse grows in flat fronds shaped like mittens, 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) long. Grown mostly on the coast of Maine, dulse is exceptionally high in iodine content, and is also rich in manganese. Increasingly available in health food shops in its dried form, dulse is used in soups and stews. It can also be toasted in the oven and used as a chewy snack with a distinctive sea flavour. It is claimed to induce sweating and treat seasickness. A normal daily dosage of dulse is up to 15 g.

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