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This organic blend of Orange, Lemon and Olive Leaf is a nice alternative caffeine-free beverage. Olive leaf has antioxidant activity that is higher than that of green tea.
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Used for minor aches and pains, colic, teeth and gum complaints and for its calming effect.
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Heavenly scented with vanilla, rose and cardamom. A delicate and tantalizing brew for afternoon or after dinner sipping.
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South American Rainforest Holly Leaf. One of the world’s most effective and healing beverages with over 196 active compounds.
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Essence of Lychee and Peach infused into black tea. A sweet, brisk and refreshing brew!
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Herbs, Spices and Roots
As a people we have been cooking our water up with a variety of plant material for as long as there are records. Some plants we add for their nutritional benefit. In other words a food. Once we learned more we started seeing the specific benefit to certain plants and used them in a curative, medicinal sense. Until recently this selection has occurred mostly by trial and error and maybe guided by the bodies needs.
Nowadays we can scientifically find out what components are within these plants and their probable effect on the human body. Within this text I will only deal with the claims for certain plants verified by science, though there are many attributes that will not be brought up that have long histories of belief behind them and should not be discounted all together.
As a lover of infusions one can also bring up the fact that humans also drink the extraction of plants for the sheer enjoyment of taste. It probably started out with a need to boil impure water that in general did not taste good and so ingredients were added to hide the taste. But since then the ingredients themselves became a reason to drink them. And so now we have a myriad of infusions to choose from and enjoy.
We will start with the herbs and flowers found here at the Green Salmon.
Chamomile (matricaria recutita)~ A native to Europe, this flowering plant is part of the sunflower family. It is strongly and pleasantly aromatic when fresh and has a distinct smell similar to apple. In fact it was named “ground apple” by the Greeks. It comes from “kamai”, meaning “of the ground” and “melon”, a generic term for apple like fruits.
In the middle ages chamomile was used widespread as a way to prevent nightmares. Since that time it has been universally known as a sleep aid. The popularity of this herb in relation to seep is due to the plant containing the amino acid tryptophan. Other related uses include it as an assistant for the treatment of anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and depression. It is also a good ingredient in vapor treatment of asthma and colds. It’s antiseptic qualities make it a good mouthwash.
Pineapple weed is a common copycat of chamomile that grows prolifically in the USA. It’s dense flower cones and spindly leaves are a good way to identify it on the roadside. The flowers exude a chamomile like fragrance when crushed but are more closely related to ragweed.
Peppermint (menthe piperita) ~ Peppermint is a cross between watermint and spearmint and is a native o Europe. This particular variety is known for it’s high menthol content, the essential oil that is known as “minty”.
Icelandic medicinal records of the thirteenth century mention of it’s use but it did not become widespread until the seventeenth century. It’s oil is known for it’s antiseptic properties and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes it a great treatment of stomach and digestive conditions as well as dental abrasions. It’s vapors are good for clearing the airways and as a rub for sore muscles it is excellent along with camphor.
Yerba mate ( Ilex paraguariensis) ~ A species of holly native to subtropical South America, the yerba mate plant is a shrub that grows up to 15 meters tall.
Drinking mate with friends from a shared hollow gourd with a metal straw called a bombilla in Spanish is an extremely common social practice in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, southern Chile, eastern Bolivia and Brazil and also Syria and Lebanon.
The herb Contains 196 active compounds (as compared to 144 found in tea) including: A, C, E, B complex, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, selenium and potassium. Also contains fatty acids, pal phenols, antioxidants and 15 amino acids. Clinically proven to be an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, bile stimulant, thermogenic and vasolilator.
Yerba Mate is a slightly less potent stimulant than coffee and much gentler on the stomach. Mate contains xanthines, which are alkaloids in the same family as caffeine, theophylline, and theobromine, well-known stimulants also found in coffee and chocolate. Caffeine content varies between 0.3% and 1.7% of dry weight (compare this to 2.5–4.5% for tea leaves, and 1.5% for ground coffee). Many retailers of Mate claim that the herb is free from caffeine. This is not true and based on a claim that the primary active xanthine in mate is “mateine”. “Mateine” is an official synonym of caffeine in the chemical databases. Florida International University in Miami researchers have found that yerba mate does contain caffeine, but some people seem to tolerate a mate drink better than coffee or tea. This could be because mate contains many other chemicals that tea or coffee do not contain.
Researchers at the University of Illinois (2005) found yerba mate to be “rich in phenolic constituents” and to “inhibit oral cancer cell proliferation”. On the other hand, a study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed a limited correlation between oral cancer and the drinking of hot mate (no data were collected on drinkers of cold mate). Yerba mate consumption has been associated with increased incidence of bladder, esophageal, oral, and lung cancer. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids contained in mate tea are known to produce a rare condition of the liver, veno-occlusive disease, which produces liver failure due to progressive occlusion of the small venous channels in the liver. It has also by the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine that yerba mate can cause high blood pressure when used in conjunction with other MAO inhibitors (such as Nardil and Parnate).
Rosehip (Family-Rosaceae) ~ The most common variet of this large family is the dog rose (rosa canina) though there are upwards of 12,000 varieties of cultivated rose.
Cultivation probably began in northern Persia, spreading from there on to Greece and beyond. The word “rosa” comes from the Greek “rodon”, which means red, due to the color of the fruit.
Particularly high in Vitamin C (with 1700-2000 mg/100g of dried product) it is one of the richest plant sources of the vitamin. Due to this it is most commonly consumed for treatment of cold and flu.
Ginger (zingiber Officinale) ~ Indigenous to Southeast Asia ginger has been a major part of Asian life for centuries and is still an important part of Chinese medicine. Cultivated in many tropical areas be the Spaniards, it was probably introduced to America via Jamaica (thank the Spaniards for Jamaica’s great ginger ale.
The “root” is actually a rhizome stalk that creeps below the surface of the soil. This part of the plant contains up to 3% of the essential oil associated with the spice and is therefore a very rich source. This essential oil is an ant-inflamatory and an ant-spasmodic. It has been found effective in the treatment of nausea in many studies. It also shows results as a carminative. Ginger has also been found to be a diaphoretic (promotes sweat) making it a great warming agent.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) ~ A perennial herb with a thick, woody root that often grows 6-8 inches long. It’s name of “glycyrrhiza” comes from the Greek “glukos”, meaning sweet, and “riza”, meaning root. This is due to it’s sweet taste when chewed. I’ts use dates back to the third century B.C. and is one of the first sweeteners, after honey.
Licorice is known by herbalists as a cure all, antcatarrhal (reduces inflammation of the nose and throat), anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory, and an expectorant that sooths and heals ulcers. The root also contains estrogen like compounds and adrenocortical hormones, for this reason it is sometimes used in the treatment of hormonal and immune system problems. In large doses, licorice has been known to cause sodium retention and potassium loss, leading to high blood pressure, fluid retention, headache and other adverse effects.
Cinnamon (Cinnamom zeylanicum) ~ Known as true cinnamon or Ceylon cinnamon it is a tree indigenous to India and Sri Lanka. The small evergreen tree is 10-15 meters tall and the bark is harvested to produce the popular spice. The flavor of cinnamon is due to the essential oil that makes up 1% of the bark. For true cinnamon, only the paper thin bark of the young shoots are harvested and rolled into tubes. According to the International Herald Tribune, in 2006 Sri Lanka produced 90% of the world’s cinnamon, followed by China, India and Vietnam.
Cinnamon bark is widely used as a spice but in medicine it acts like other volatile oils and once had a reputation as a cure for colds. It has also been used to treat diarrhea and other problems of the digestive system. Cinnamon is high in antioxidant activity and the essential oil of cinnamon also has antimicrobial properties. Cinnamon has also traditionally been used to treat toothache and fight bad breath and its regular use is believed to stave off common cold and aid digestion. Cinnamon is even used as an insect repellent.
The cassia tree of the same genus is also harvested for it’s bark (as well as the seed pods from which senna, a laxative agent used since the ninth century, is extracted) and tastes much like cinnamon. Labeled simply as “cinnamon” in the USA it is sometimes called Chinese cinnamon to avoid confusion with true cinnamon. Indonesia is the worlds biggest producer of cassia. Cassia is usually cheaper, mostly because whole branches are harvested for the bark rather than just the small shoots. This gives cassia a thicker texture and rougher flavor than true cinnamon. “Cinnamon” has also been reported to have remarkable pharmacological effects in the treatment of type II diabetes. However, the plant material used in the study was actually cassia, as opposed to true cinnamon, so the store brand “cinnamon” you buy in the store may not be true cinnamon, but it’s not all bad.
Vanilla (Vanilla : orchid) ~ The main species harvested for vanillin is Vanilla planifolia, native to Mexico. Since it’s world wide popularity as a spice it has been cultivated throughout the tropics. Madagascar is now the world’s largest producer, but Tahiti is also a large producer of Vanilla pompona and Vanilla tahitiensis. The vanillin (what gives vanilla it’s distinct taste and smell) content of these species is much less than Vanilla planifolia from Mexico, which makes the latter more prized by vanilla lovers. The name vanilla came from the Spanish word “vainilla”, meaning “little pod”.
Vanilla grows as a vine, climbing up an existing tree, pole, or other support. It can be grown naturally on existing trees or in a plantation on poles. Left alone, it will grow as high as possible on the support, with few flowers. In cultivation, growers fold the higher parts of the plant downwards so that the plant stays at heights accessible by a standing human. This also greatly stimulates flowering. The pods are harvested while green and immature and not yet fit for consumption. The tissue of the vanilla pod is then heated or frozen to destroy further ripening. The pods are then held for 7 to 10 days in hot humid conditions to allow enzymes to chemically transform the compounds in the pods into vanillin and other compounds that are what we know as vanilla. At this point the enzymic process is halted by drying the pods in the sun. When 25-30% of the pods’ weight is moisture (as opposed to the 60-70% they began drying with) the process is complete and the pods are sorted by quality and graded.
Though there are many compounds present in, the compound vanillin (4-hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde) is primarily responsible for the characteristic flavour and smell of vanilla.
Another minor component of vanilla essential oil is piperonal (heliotropin), responsible for vanilla’s characteristic smell.
Once thought to be an aphrodisiac there has never been scientific proof to back that claim, but it has been shown that vanilla does increase levels of catecholamines (including epinephrine, more commonly known as adrenaline), and as such can also be considered mildly addictive. In an in-vitro test vanilla was able to block quorum sensing in bacteria. This is medically interesting because in many bacteria quorum sensing signals function as a switch for virulence. The microbes only become virulent when the signals indicate that they have the numbers to resist the host immune system response.