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Herb Basics: Inside the Mystery of the Plants

In order to understand the usefulness of herbs we must investigate their hidden little treasures: the active compounds. Each herb has a different mix of these compounds and in different quantities. Also, growing in different climate, soil, water quality and quantity or even storage can change all the treasures within. Let’s find out the main groups of these.

Minerals: Potassium, calcium and others are highly important for the body. Calcium is used from bone structure to balancing our nervous system. Potassium helps in cell reproduction.

Organic acids: usually found in fruits – oxalic, malic, tartaric, and citric acid, each one has a different power. All help maintain balance the digestive system, helping prevent constipation.

Glycosides: found after the boiling of some herbs. They have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antipyretic, and antiseptic properties. Saponins are also glycosides – very large quantities can be lethal, but small doses help with absorbing food and medicine in the intestines

Tannins: Large quantities irritate mucosa but in small doses they fight bacteria.

Resins: They are different from essential oils and are used for skin health.

Alkaloids: They are important for the nervous system, but they are also lethal in large quantities or when used improperly.

Paracelsus said, “the dose makes the poison” (Latin: dosis sola facit venenum). Using herbs wisely and without excess is the best.

 * The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.

Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.




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