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o-rah and good day from Semper Fitness. Itís the motivator here, and what I would like to talk to you about today, is the wonderful world of herbs. I recently came across some very interesting information about herbs. Everyone is jumping on the herbal bandwagon. You now have herbs of all types out there that are reputed to do everything from curing baldness to boosting the immune system. Letís get to the nitty-gritty.

What Iím going to do is weed through the herbal garden give you the top ten herbs recommended by herbal experts. I will be briefly explaining each one and give you a description of their effects on the body. These recommendations come from Anne Khoury, director of the Health Connection Center in Philadelphia and coordinator of the annual Healthy Living and Alternative Health Expo. Letís begin our journey into the herbal world with Echinacea.

1. ECHINACEA. A wildflower native to North America, this supplement is said to support the immune system and be helpful in treating the common cold, canker sores, ear infections, vaginitis and yeast infections.
Interesting fact: Native Americans used echinacea as an antidote for snake bites.
Caution: Echinacea has a limited shelf life, unlike other medicinal herbs such as ginseng.

2. ARNICA. Derived from the plant arnica montana, itís used externally as a tincture or salve to promote the healing of bruises, wounds and sprains.
Interesting fact: Marathon runners sometimes use arnica extract before races to improve performance and minimize pain from muscle sprains and stiffness.
Caution: Some are sensitive to the compound helanin that is found in arnica. If a mild rash develops, stop using arnica immediately.

3. GOLDEN SEAL ROOT. Used internally and externally to help the body fight infections with its nutritional properties. It purports to help the body soothe inflammations of the mucous membranes and balance their function.
Interesting fact: A combination of golden seal root, astralagus and the aforementioned echinacea are available in pill form.
Caution: Should not be used by pregnant women.

4. GARLIC. Said to be beneficial for restoring poor circulation and reducing high blood pressure and high cholesterol when added raw to cooked foods.
Interesting fact: Garlic may not keep away vampires, but it does repel bugs.

5. GINGKO BILOBA. One of the better-known supplements, itís derived from the fruits and seeds of the gingko tree. Proponents say it can help in treatment of short-term memory loss, headaches, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and depression by improving blood flow in the capillaries.
Caution: Because it increases blood flow, gingko can cause excessive bleeding in the stomach and brain, especially for those who are taking aspirin.
Interesting fact: In 1988, doctors in Germany wrote more prescriptions for it than any other prescription drug (itís now sold there as an over-the-counter drug).

6. GREEN TEA. Itís recently been touted as a cancer-fighter and an antioxidant, but itís been known for its curative properties in Asian cultures for centuries.
Interesting fact: The Chinese say an emperor discovered green tea when a few leaves fell from a bush into his cup of hot water.
Caution: Some studies have shown that adding milk to green tea defeats its healing properties.

7. ST. JOHNíS WORT. Available in liquid, capsule and dried forms, St. Johnís wort contains hypericin, a substance that appears to inhibit monoamine oxidase, a chemical produced by the human body that has been known to produce depression.
Interesting fact: An analysis of approximately 25 studies suggest that St. Johnís wort is just as helpful as commonly used prescription drugs in treating mild depression, without side effects such as headaches or vomiting, according to the British Medical Journal.
Caution: Persons with fair skin should avoid exposure to strong sunlight when taking St. Johnís wort because of some cases of photosensitivity.

8. GINGER ROOT. In addition to being used as a seasoning in cooking, ginger root also is used as an antidote for indigestion and nausea (especially motion sickness), morning sickness, stomach flu, headaches, sinus and allergies. When applied externally, it is known to relieve sore joints.

9. GINSENG. Used to increase physical as well as mental performance, this root has been coveted for thousands of years for use as an aphrodisiac.
Interesting fact: Varieties of wild American ginseng have sold for as much as $600.00 a pound, which has threatened the root plant. Cultivated varieties of Asian and American ginseng are now available.
Caution: People with high blood pressure, palpitations or asthma should not take ginseng.

10. ASTRAGALUS. Described as a booster for the immune system, astragalus is one of the better-known tonic herbs from China It has a sweet taste and is used to stimulate the lungs, liver and spleen. Used with ginseng, this combination has been used as a natural antibiotic.

Well, those are the top ten herbs. Hopefully, one of them are for you. I use Ginseng and Echinacea. I must say, they make me feel great. Thatís it this week from Semper Fitness. Stay pumped, stay motivated and OO-RAH!

Semper Fidelis!

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