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Reprinted with permission from the book From Magic to Medicine                  Alphabetical Herb List

MAITAKE MUSHROOM (Grifola fronndosa)

Popular in Japan. In China it was shown to have an anti-cancer effect in patients with lung, stomach, hepatocellular (liver) cancers, and leukemia. Reduced side effects from chemotherapy have also been reported.

Dr Joan Priestly, MD, reports that her patients with Kaposi's sarcoma and other symptoms of AIDS show improvement when maitake extract is administered.

Reported attributes include 1) high blood pressure control, 2) tumor inhibition, and 3) liver protectant.

Dosage: 3-7 g/day supplement or fresh.


Available in liquid or pill form ... it is effective on all types of cramps.


See “ephedra” ... Historical or traditional use (may or may not be supported by scientific studies): The Chinese have used ephedra medicinally for over 50 centuries ... it is listed in a classic text about Chinese herbalism by Shen Nong. Traditional uses: Alleviation of sweating ... lung / bronchial constriction ... water retention, coughing, shortness of breath, the common cold and fevers without sweat are all indications for its use. The active ingredient, ephedrine, was identified in 1887, the herb became popular with U.S. physicians in 1924 due to its decongesting and bronchodilating.

CAUTION: Ephedrine, the primary ingredient in ma huang (and many other herbal diet products) is a stimulant of the nervous system and it´s use can result in liver damage, kidney damage and high blood pressure. It has been implicated in several deaths. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been attempting for years to have it regulated. Also called "dieter's teas", ingredients often include senna, aloe, buckthorn, and other plant-derived laxatives that have been found to cause diarrhea, vomiting, chronic constipation, and perhaps even death when consumed in excessive amounts (according to the July-August 1997 issue of the FDA Consumer). In recent years the FDA has received a number of "adverse event" reports related to these herbs, including reports of the deaths of four young women in which dieter's teas may have played a part.

Are there any side effects or interactions? Ephedra has a long history of safe use at the recommended amounts. However, abuse of ephedra (and particularly ephedrine)-especially for weight loss or as a recreational drug-can lead to amphetamine-like side effects, including elevated blood pressure, rapid heart beat, nervousness, irritability, headache, urination disturbances, vomiting, muscle disturbances, insomnia, dry mouth, heart palpitations, and even death due to heart failure. One study has shown that a single dose of ephedra caused mild elevation of heart rate but did not consistently affect blood pressure in otherwise healthy adults. When taken at higher levels, ephedra can cause drastic increases in blood pressure as well as cardiac arrhythmias. Ephedrine is considered potentially habituating, though it is unclear if whole herb ephedra is likely to do the same thing.


This relative of the hollyhock is purported by folklore to reduce irritation caused by stomach acids.


This herbal drink from Argentina is considered an “energy tea” because it contains the chemical “xanthines” which boosts the nervous system and the brain. Expect an energy boost up to 10% during the day you drink a cup.


A brain hormone which is associated with sleep cycles. It seems unlikely that this supplement will combat insomnia.

CAUTION: Several European countries require that this medication be obtained only with a prescription because people with sleep apnea may find their condition worsening due to the use of this supplement.

Melatonin doses greater than one mg has been linked to the following symptoms: 1. headaches, 2. drowsiness, 3. interference of sleep cycles, 4. inhibits the utilization of insulin. It is to be noted that melatonin is a powerful antioxidant which can slow the aging process and boost the immunity system.


MILK THISTLE (Silybum marianum) Used for centuries throughout Europe. Sometimes confused with another medicinal plant called "blessed thistle" but is used for different ailments.

Since the liver is responsible for processing poisons like environmental pollutants, it can become damaged from overload. Milk thistle protects the liver from damage because it has regenerative effects on the liver.

Milk thistle contains silymarin, which acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from free radical damage ... helps to restore digestive power after hepatitis.

Milk Thistle is categorized as a “galactogogue” which is a word that the ancient Greeks used to mean, “to bring milk”. Breast feeding mothers may use it to stimulate production of milk.

DOSAGE: Typically 200 mg capsule (standardized extract containing 70% silymarin) three times a day.


Hayfever decongestant ... decreases appetite ... improves mood ... diuretic ... increases blood pressure ... stimulates heart rate ... improves energy level. Contains ephedra. CAUTION: Do not take if diabetic, pregnant or if you are breast-feeding.


Helpful with respiratory ailments because of its ability to reduce mucous congestion from the respiratory system (including lungs). It is also used for: gastrointestinal problems, as an antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant. Has been used as an additive to bath water because it relieves exhaustion.


A nervine herb which strengthens and tones the nervous system ... helps you to relax and cope better with stress and anxiety ... which have been linked to heart disease.

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)

Helps strengthen connective tissue, neutralize free radical and may reduce inflammation.

It is a naturally occurring dietary sulfur which the body uses in many processes ... pH balance ... anti-oxidant ... circulation ... synthesis of collagen, oxygenation of cells ... carbohydrate metabolism.

Used to treat arthritis, cataracts, emphysema, asthma, depression, allergies and the alleviation of constipation.


The resin from the stems has antiseptic and disinfectant properties. It fights bacteria in the mouth and is good for bad breath, periodontal disease, skin disorders, and ulcers.


Stimulates activity of the mucous membranes. Typically used for digestion, infection and vaginitis. Also, as a mouthwash and gargle for sores.

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