The use of willow bark dates back thousands of years, to the time of Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew on the bark to reduce fever and inflammation. Willow bark has been used throughout the centuries in China and Europe, and continues to be used today for the treatment of pain (particularly low back pain and osteoarthritis), headache, and inflammatory conditions, such as bursitis and tendinitis. The bark of white willow contains salicin, which is a chemical similar to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). In combination with the herb's powerful anti-inflammatory plant compounds (called flavonoids), salicin is thought to be responsible for the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of the herb. In fact, in the 1800s, salicin was used to develop aspirin. White willow appears to bring pain relief more slowly than aspirin, but its effects may last longer.
The willow family includes a number of different species of trees and shrubs native to Europe, Asia, and some parts of North America. Some of the more commonly known species are white willow/European willow (Salix alba), black willow/pussy willow (Salix nigra), crack willow (Salix fragilis), purple willow (Salix purpurea), and weeping willow (Salix babylonica). Not all willow species accumulate a therapeutically sufficient amount of salicin. In one study, the amount of salicin after 1 and 2 year growth in autumn and spring ranged from 0.08 - 12.6%. The willow bark sold in Europe and the United States usually includes a combination of the bark from white, purple, and crack willows.
Willow bark is used to ease pain and reduce inflammation. Researchers believe that the chemical salicin, found in willow bark, is responsible for these effects. However, studies show several other components of willow bark, including plant chemicals called polyphenols and flavonoids, have antioxidant, fever reducing, antiseptic, and immune boosting properties. Some studies show willow is as effective as aspirin for reducing pain and inflammation (but not fever), and at a much lower dose. Scientists think that may be due to other compounds in the herb. More research is needed
Continue Reading at Source : Willow bark | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/willow-bark#ixzz33RMjdYxz
1. Caffeine free – The rooibos plant grows naturally without any caffeine. This is important, as it means it does not need to undergo a chemical process to remove the caffeine. It also means that anyone can drink it, including those who do not want to drink caffeine such as children & pregnant women. The other key benefit of no caffeine is that rooibos tea can be drunk in unrestricted amounts, in fact, the average South African will consume 5-6 cups per day.
2.Contains powerful antioxidants – Rooibos tea contains a huge array of antioxidants, which help to protect the body in a number of ways. Two polyphenol antioxidants called aspalathin and nothofagin are found in high concentrations in rooibos tea. These antioxidants protect the body by fighting free radicals. These are unstable cells, which attack healthy cells in order to stabilise themselves. The polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory properties and can safeguard against heart disease.
3. Prevents against some cancers – Some studies have demonstrated a link between consumption of rooibos tea and a reduction of cancer-causing chemicals. This is because of the high level of dominant antioxidants, some of which have anti-mutagenic properties. This means that they defend cells & DNA against damage and inhibit them from developing into cancer.
4. High mineral content – One of the key health benefits of rooibos tea is that it contains several minerals that are vital to health. These include: magnesium – essential for the nervous system, calcium & manganese – essential for strong teeth and bones, zinc – important for metabolism and iron – critical for helping blood & muscles distribute oxygen.
5. Improves circulation – One of the many potent antioxidants in rooibos tea is called Chysoeriol. It can improve circulation by preventing the activity of the enzyme that triggers cardiovascular disease. Drinking rooibos tea also lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.
6. Relieves stomach complaints – As rooibos tea contains high levels of flavonoids, especially one called quercetin, it has the ability to relieve numerous abdominal ailments such as cramps, diahorrea and indigestion. This is because the flavonoids help to reduce spasm, inflammation and allergies. It has also been widely stated that the health benefits of rooibos tea extend to alleviating colic in babies. As it is totally caffeine free, it is perfectly safe for them to drink rooibos tea.
7. Aids absorption of iron – Unlike most black teas, which prevent the body from absorbing iron effectively because of the tannins they contain, rooibos tea supports the body in absorbing iron. This is because rooibos tea contains less than half the tannins of black tea.
8. Can relieve skin conditions – A more recent discovery of the benefits of rooibos tea is that it can help you to look more beautiful! Rooibos tea contains phenyl pyretic acid, which can help to improve acne, psoriasis and eczema. You can apply a freshly brewed and cooled tea bag to the affected areas and it will soothe and heal any inflammation.
9. Can protect against Parkinsons/Alzheimers disease – drinking rooibos tea regularly can protect against a process known as lipid peridoxation. This is where free radicals damage brain cells and nerve tissue. If this is prolonged, it can lead eventually to progressive and deteriorating brain disease, such as Alzheimers. Laboratory tests on rats showed little difference in brain function from a group of older rats given rooibos tea to the brains of newborn rats.
10. Encourages restful sleep – One of the many health benefits of rooibos tea is that it can be drunk as often as you wish and at any time of day. Many people choose to drink it before bedtime as it can help with insomnia. Due to its high mineral content and lack of caffeine, it helps people to feel calm and relaxed.
And it's delicious !
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