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Information About Nutrients and Herbs - Uses, Benefits


Wild yam is a perennial vine with a tuberous rootstock that is native to North America. Its roots yields an alkaloid which is a muscle relaxant, and it was used to treat abdominal cramps and bilious colics during the American Civil War. It can also be used to regularize menstruation and relieve menstrual cramps. One particular species of wild yam, D. vitata has been found to contain up to 40 per cent diosgenin, a glycoside that can easily be converted to the hormone progesterone. (This hormone was previously produced from horse's urine.) In a study carried out over a four-year period, wild yam was found to be effective as an oral contraceptive, but without the side effects of the pill.


A herb that commonly grows wild along roadside verges, yarrow contains an essential oil and two acids, which together produce an astringent infusion that is aromatic and has a bitter taste. Traditionally, yarrow tea was used to induce sweating during a cold, and it is still recommended by herbalists for this purpose. An infusion of the plant can be used to alleviate digestive upsets, and arrest internal bleeding and heavy menstrual flow. Externally, it can be used as a soothing application for wounds, sore hemorrhoids, and also as a mouthwash in cases of gum inflammation and a hair tonic. Available from herbalists.

Caution:Yarrow can cause dermatitis in some people.


Increasingly publicized as a health food, yogurt has been used for centuries by many of the long-living ethnic societies. Now rediscovered as a pro biotic food, yogurt is simply milk that has been fermented by several strains of bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria bifidum. The bacteria curdle the milk by converting the milk sugar to lactic acid. One of the main nutritional benefits of yogurt is to reinforce the intestines with additional 'friendly' bacteria, promoting the growth of intestinal flora. The bacteria of the intestinal flora aid digestion and absorption of food, produce B vitamins, prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria (such as candida) which cause diseases, and inhibit internal decay; they also promote a healthy intestinal acidity. In this respect, yogurt is especially beneficial to people on antibiotics, and for those who have a sweet tooth or who drink chlorinated water, all of which deplete friendly bacteria. Yogurt also helps to synthesize vitamin K, preventing internal haemorrhages, and it lowers cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of cancer, especially colon cancer. However, apart from these benefits, yogurt is also a higWy nutritious food. It is a good source of quality protein, vitamins and minerals: it contains vitamins A, B complex, E and D, is an excellent source of easily absorbed calcium, potassium and phosphorus, and contains only a moderate amount of sodium.Yogurt is also easily digested - in fact, most of its protein is digested within an hour. It is also a highly valuable food for the treatment of gastroenteritis, colitis, constipation, bilious disorders, flatulence, bad breath, high cholesterol, migraine and nervous fatigue. In addition, yogurt can often be taken by people who cannot use other forms of milk due to lactose intolerance.


In recent years, yohimbe capsules have swept health food stores in the USA as a potent aphrodisiac. The bark of the yohimbe plant, which is a native of South America, contains yohimbine, and this was approved by the US FDA for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Although yohimbine can increase sex drive, its primary action is to increase blood flow to the erectile tissue. It has no effect, however, on testosterone levels. When used on its own, yohimbe can help about a third of cases. However, its side effects, which include depression, anxiety, hallucinations, headaches, hypertension, dizziness and skin flushing, make it difficult to use. Both yohimbe and yohimbine are therefore best used under medical supervision.

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