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Information About Nutrients and Herbs - Uses, Benefits

TAMARI

A wheat-free soy sauce, made from soybeans, sea salt and koji (a fermentation starter made of a special yeast culture, aspergillus oryzae), tamari is traditionally a by-product of miso production. It is made from the liquid that exudes from the soybean paste as miso ferments. Good tamari is allowed to ferment and age for at least a year. Although similar in appearance and flavour to shoyn, tamari has a stronger, sharper taste and aroma. It is used instead of salt and to add complex flavour.

TAMARIND (TAMARINDUS INDICA)

An evergreen tree native to India, it bears small, sweet fruits in pods. Tamarind fruit is well known as a gentle laxative and is sometimes used as an ingredient in laxative preparations. The leaves are reputed to destroy parasitic intestinal worms. In Asia, tamarind fruit is eaten as a food; it is also made into a refreshing and cooling beverage, which is particularly suitable for people with fever. Tamarind is exported and is available in specialist shops in the west.

TAPIOCA

An edible starch obtained from the fleshy rootstock of the tropical cassava shrub, also called manioc, native to Central and South America. It has been the prime source of starch for the native Brazilians who gave it its name. Raw cassava contains toxic glycosides, which is why it has to be soaked and cooked. Tapioca is available in several forms, such as flakes or flour, and is widely used in puddings and as a thickener in soups and other liquid foods.

TARRAGON (ARTEMISIA DRACUNCULUS)

A green perennial shrub, its aromatic leaves are commonly used as a culinary herb. The fresh leaves and oil are used in tarragon mustard and tarragon vinegar, and also in the cooking of fish or chicken. Infusions of tarragon leaves can be used to stimulate digestive secretions and appetite, relieve digestive disorders, bring on delayed menstruation, and promote urination by stimulating the kidneys. Tarragon tea, taken at bedtime, can help to relieve insomnia.

TAURINE

Taurine is a sulphur-containing, non-essential amino acid. However, it is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body and an antioxidant that neutralizes tree radicals. It also helps to raise calcium levels in the body by trans­porting calcium (and sodium) across the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. In addition, turbine is a component of bile, which is essential for the digestion of fats, the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and for controlling cholesterol levels. Turbine is produced in the body from cytokine with the help of vitamin B6, and is concentrated in excitable tissues such as the heart, muscles and nerve tissues, but it is not commonly found in food. It is thought to have an inhibitory action on epilepsy and has been used to reduce seizures. Its inhibitory action can also help to counteract anxiety and stress, especially when combined with histidine and lysine. Turbine is available as a food supplement and beneficial levels range between 500 and 3,000 mg daily.

TEA (CAMELUA SINENSIS)

The tea plant is an evergreen that is grown in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world, particularly in India and China, which together produce the bulk of the world's tea supplies. The flavors of the teas produced vary £loom country to country, and are dependent not only on soil type and processing methods, but also on the elevation of the plantations, with the finest tea coming from higher, cooler areas, as the plant grows more slowly in cool air, adding to its flavor.

Black tea is a stimulating, refreshing and diuretic beverage provided it is not strongly steeped; only lightly infused. It is traditionally used to aid digestion, especially after a heavy meal; it also quenches thirst, relieves flatulence and counteracts diarrhea. A popular tea variety, 'Earl Grey', consists of black tea blended with bergamot oil, which is in it refreshing, relaxing and calming, and adds these properties in the blending to the tea. Common tea contains stimulating and astringent substances, including theophylline, theine and tannins, which are known to stimulate overproduction of cellular products, such as fibrous tissue and cyst fluid. Strong tea is used medicinally to halt dysentery and treat chronic inflammations such as gastritis and enteritis. It is also used externally for certain skin conditions. Tea includes the minerals sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium and manganese. In tea-drinking countries, a third or more of the daily consumption of manganese comes from tea. Excessive drinking of tea has been found to contribute to constipation, nervousness, breast lumps and, in sensitive individuals, to mimic the many symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Some milder types of tea, which are made from the branches of certain tea plants, are exported from Japan and marketed as 'bancha twig tea' or 'kukicha'.

TEA TREE OIL (MELALEUCA ALTERNEFOLIA)

Tea tree is a native of Australia where it is cultivated especially for its valuable oil, which is extracted from the leaves by steam distillation. This oil has been found to be an effective antiseptic, with strong germicidal and fungicidal actions. For many years, the Australian aboriginals bathed in the healing waters of swampy areas in which the tea tree grew. They used the plant on their skins by crushing the leaves and spreading the pulp on affected areas. When discovered in 1700 by British explorers, tea tree was named by Captain Cook when he observed the aboriginals brewing tea from the leaves. Since then, the tea tree has been studied scientifically and found to contain 48 compounds, including terpine 4-01, one of its most therapeutic ingredients. These compounds not all of which have been identified, have been found to be beneficial in healing infected wounds, skin inflammations, carbuncles and pus-filled infections; as such, they were used during World War II by Australian troops. Tea tree oil has since been found to be very beneficial in the treatment of various conditions such as bladder inflammation (cystitis), athlete's foot, nappy rash, insect bites, sunburn, cuts, fungi, dandruff and itchy scalp. Nowadays, tea tree oil is incorporated into many personal care products, such as dandruff shampoos and conditioners, deodorants, toothpastes, antiseptic mouthwashes, ointments for treating acne and fungal infections, and as a douche for vaginal yeast infections.

TEMPEH

The most popular soya food in Indonesia, tempeh originated in Java more than 200 years ago and is now sold in thousands of shops in Java alone, and in increasing numbers of health food shops in the USA and other western countries. Tempeh is a fermented soya product made from cooked soybeans bound together by a dense fungus (rhizopus) and then moulded into compact patties. Sold fresh, re6:igerated or frozen, the patties can be sliced and tried until crisp, and their flavour and texture resemble southern-tried chicken. Different varieties of temper are produced by combining the soybeans with grains such as wheat, rice, millet or coconut. Soya temper is highly nutritious. It contains 18 per cent protein and is an exceptional vegetarian source of vitamin B12. Popular western recipes include temper burgers, seasoned crisp tempeh and tempeh sandwiches.

THEOBROMINE

An ingredient found mainly in cocoa and chocolate, theobromine is a stimulating alkaloid and one of the methylxanthines, a group of compounds that includes caffeine and theophylline. Theobromine expands blood vessels in the heart, increases urination, reduces calcium absorption, and is a mild stimulator of the nervous system. It is known to stimulate overproduction of cellular products, such as fibrous tissue and cyst fluid.

THEOPHYLLINE

An alkaloid found in tea, theophylline is a methylxanthine, diuretic and a mild stimulator.

THREONINE

An essential amino acid which helps to maintain protein balance in the body, it is important for the synthesis of collagen. Threonine is concentrated in the heart, nervous system and skeletal muscles and also helps the liver to handle fats in combination with aspartic acid and methionine.

THYME (THYMUS VULGARIS)

A small, scented garden plant native to the Mediterranean regions, thyme was used by the Romans, as both a culinary and a therapeutic herb. Its aromatic and spicy tasting leaves, which are rich in essential oils, are used in cooking and in infusions. Thyme is a good tonic for the stomach and nerves. Its tea relieves flatulence, promotes appetite, strengthens digestion, loosens phlegm and increases perspiration. Infusions have a calming effect, relax muscle spasms and alleviate exhaustion. Extracts and infusions are also used to treat bronchitis, laryngitis and coughs. Thyme vinegar was used for centuries to relieve headaches. Essential oil of thyme makes a good antiseptic mouthwash, and is also used externally for warts and for a relaxing bath.

Caution:

Too much thyme can overstimulate the thyroid and cause poisoning symptoms.

TOCOTRIENOLS

This is a group of natural compounds related to tocopherols (vitamin E). Whereas the tocopherol molecule consists of a ring and a long saturated side chain, the tocotrienol differs by having three double-bond as their side chain. However, the tocotrienols are less widely distributed in nature. While tocopherols are found mainly in wheat germ, corn and soybean oils, tocotrienols are particularly rich in palm, rice bran and barley oils. Once thought to be of a lesser nutritional value, tocotrienols were found be stronger antioxidants than tocopherols, and to have a better effect as anti-tumour and cholesterol-reducing agents. The tocotrienols are considered to have a better penetration of fatty tissues such as brain and liver, which accounts for their improved performance. The tocotrienols consist of alpha, beta, gamma and delta. Gamma, delta and alpha being the most used. A combination of alpha tocopherol and tocotrienols is now considered the best approach, and the first formulas are available in health food shops in capsule form.

TOFU

A common staple of Japanese cuisine, tofu is a cheese-like soybean curd which has now become extremely popular in western countries and various types, such as silken tofu, firm tofu or tofu puddings, are currendy available in health food shops. Tofu has been praised for its high protein content of 35 per cent, and for its high protein quality, which includes all the essential amino acids. Indeed, many people in Asia depend on tofu for their daily protein, and it is now considered a good replacement for meat, thus allowing more people to become vegetarians. As a serving of 250 g provides only 147 calories, it is ideal as a diet food - an equal amount of beef would contain five times the calories. Tofu is also low in saturated fats and cholesterol, it is rich in calcium, and it is a good source of the B vitamins, vitamin E, potassium and sodium. As such, it is beneficial for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and atherosclerosis. Fresh tofu will keep for about five to seven days when refrigerated; deep-fried tofu will keep up to ten days; and special types of silken tofu can be kept sealed in their containers for up to six months. Available from health food stores and supermarkets.

TOMATOES

Tomatoes originated in South America and were brought to Europe from Mexico in the mid-sixteenth century. Tomatoes belong to the selenium family, and historically, early varieties were high in solacing and considered poisonous until safer types were developed. They are rich in vitamins A and C and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. They detoxify the body, purify the blood, strengthen digestion and are useful in cases of poor appetite, poor digestion and constipation. Although tomatoes are considered an acidic food, they alkalize the blood after digestion and are useful in treating acidic condi­tions such as gout. Tomatoes contain leucopenia, a powerful antioxidant carotene that neutralizes damaging free radi­cals. Leucopenia has been found to be outstandingly effective in quenching singlet oxygen, which is a very reactive type of free radical that damages the DNA blueprint (which supervises cell division), causing mutations and cancer. In fact, the results of one study have indicated that increasing dietary leucopenia levels may provide a significant protection from digestive tract cancers. Leucopenia is now being incorporated as an ingredient in various multivitamin preparations.

Caution:

Tomatoes can interfere with calcium absorption and should be avoided in cases of arthritis. More than four tomatoes a day are not recommended.

TRYPSIN

A protein-splitting enzyme secreted by the pancreas, trypsin enables the digestion of proteins in the intestines. It is included in many digestive-aid tablets such as pancreatin.

TRYPTOPHAN

An essential amino acid, tryptophan has several crucial roles. Used in the body as a building block of protein, tryptophan helps manufacture antibodies, produce niacin (vitamin B3), and create serotonin, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter - a brain chemical that conveys calming messages between brain cells. Serotonin induces sleep at night and relaxation during the day. It helps alleviate stress, reduce depression, treat insomnia, control hyperactivity in children, stabilize blood pressure and protect the heart. Moreover, an Italian study found that tryptophan (the 5­HTP form) is also useful for dieting. It can help overweight people lose weight by naturally reducing the appetite and carbohydrate intake, seemingly due to the release of the calming serotonin. Tryptophan needs vitamin B6 and C to be converted to serotonin, and an adequate level of vitamin B3 is also important. When these are in short supply, less serotonin is available, and this can be manifested by symptoms such as insomnia, depression, anxiety and hypertension. Tryptophan rich foods include milk and bananas. The form of tryptophan currently available from health food stores is 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan (5-HTP), derived from the beans of an African bush, Griffon Simplicifolia. The Recommended Daily Allowance is 100-200 mg taken between meals. (See Genetically Modified Foods)

TURMERIC (CURCUMA LONGA)

A common culinary spice, its source is the roots of a plant which is native to Asia. Turmeric was traditionally used by both Indian and Chinese systems of medicine to treat inflammations and care sprains. It contains a yellow pigment, curcumin, an active ingredient that has been used for centuries, not only to season foods but also as a food preservative and colouring agent. The curcuminoids in turmeric are a group of phenolic acids that have been found to have unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They retard age-related diseases by preventing free radical damage, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, protect the liver from toxins, help to dissolve gallstones, lower cholesterol levels, alleviate joint swellings, increase joint flexibility and reducp;,; menstrual pain. Studies with HN patients have shown that turmeric also has a beneficial effect in the treatment of AIDS. Used externally in a poultice, turmeric mixed with litrie is an ancient household remedy for sprains, muscular pairv,'md inflamed joints. It is available as a nutritional suppleme&'1t in capsule form.

TURNIPS

A member of the mustard family, the turnip is a root vegetable which is rich in vitamins A and C, and minerals such as sulphur, calcium, potassium, sodiunl and phosphorus. Turnips detoxify the body and alkalize the blood, promote sweating, releasing mucus and improving the appetite. They are also generally beneficial in conditions such as indigestion, diabetes and jaundice. Turnips have traditionally been used in Asia in the treatment oflung congestions, bronchitis, asthma and sinus problem Although raw turnips have a somewhat pungent smell, this is destroyed in cooking.

TYROSINE, L- TYROSINE

A non-essential amino acid, tyrosine has many vital effects in the body such as fighting depression, maintaining energy and controlling weight. Together with iodine, tyrosine produces thyroxine, the vital thyroid hormone that controls the rate of metabolism, weight, energy and growth. With phenylalanine, tyrosine produces norepinephrine (adrenalin) and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters - the chemicals that enable brain cells ~~") communicate with each other. Norepinephrine is mportant in the control of stress, anxiety, fatigue and alleigies, while dopamine controls motivation, movement and motions. Tyrosine participates in the production of endorhins, the brain's natural pain relievers and mood elevator5 Tyrosine is abundant in animal food and is also available a nutritional supplement from health food stores.

Caution:

Tyrosine should not be used by people with melanoma.

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