Plant Detective, The

Monday 3:58 PM and Saturday 6:00 PM

Each week Flora Delaterre a.k.a. The Plant Detective investigates a new medicinal plant somewhere around the globe--and it could be in your backyard. Beth Judy writes and voices this minute-and-a-half program in consult with Bastyr University, Tai Sophia Institute, and the Vermont School of Integrative Herbalism. Produced by MTPR. Podcasts available on this website as well.....

Ginger

May 31, 2014

5/31/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" The rhizome of Zingiber officinale is eaten as a spice, a medicine, and a delicacy. It's an old remedy for nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness, and the common cold. It's also used to help digestion. And although further research is needed, a 2011 review of scientific literature found that ginger appears to be promising for cancer prevention.

Cloud Mushroom

May 24, 2014

5/24/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" Cloud mushroom, used for centuries in Chinese medicine, shows immunomodulator properties, helping prolong life after treatment in certain types of cancer. And in clinical trials, a compound derived from cloud mushroom, Polysaccharide-K,  inhibited the onset of cancer.

Rhodiola Rosea

May 17, 2014

5/17/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" The harsh living conditions of rhodiola, a plant that grows at high latitudes and elevations, might explain the strong protective compounds it produces. People of the Arctic used it in their folk medicine for everything from increasing endurance and fighting fatigue, infection and depression to increasing fertility, sharpening memory, and reducing the effects of aging and stress.

Astragalus

May 9, 2014

5/10/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" For centuries, the root of Astragalus membranaceus has been used in Chinese traditional medicine, usually in combination with other herbs, to support the immune system and fight fatigue. Today, researchers are investigating roles for astragalus in cancer treatment and heart disease.

Comfrey

May 2, 2014

5/3/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" Compounds in Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) soothe inflammation and help cells regenerate - hence the old names for plant, "boneset" and "knitbone." But toxic alkaloids in comfrey can damage the liver, so be cautious even with external use of this herb.

Age-old remedy can be dangerous.

Dong Quai

Apr 25, 2014

4/26/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" Dong Quai, or Chinese angelica, is sometimes called the "female ginseng" for its role as a balancer of the female reproductive system. It's used for menstrual cramps, abnormal periods, and symptoms of PMS and menopause. Dong Quai is not recommended if you're pregnant or breast-feeding or if you're taking blood-thinning medicine, and it can make your skin light-sensitive.

Evening Primrose

Apr 18, 2014

4/19/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:"  There's an important acid in the seeds of evening primrose: gamma linolenic acid, or GLA, which is an essential fatty acid. From EFAs, our bodies manufacture chemicals responsible for many basic functions, and EFA deficiency may contribute to arthritic inflammation, menstrual problems, eczema, and more.

Bitter Melon II

Apr 11, 2014

4/12/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" Bitter melon's ability to bring down blood sugar is proven, and it holds promise for treating complications of diabetes as a non-animal source of injectable insulin.

Bitter Melon I

Apr 4, 2014

4/5/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) goes by many names and is used as food and medicine across the world, especially in the tropics. It's got twice the calcium and potassium of spinach and bananas, but if you're going to try some raw, be ready: it's one bitter cucurbid.

Tulsi

Mar 28, 2014

3/29/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" “Holy basil” helps many ailments. It's sacred - dedicated to Vishnu - and has been cultivated by Indian people for centuries, as medicine for fever, digestion, diabetes, stress, and more.

Valerian

Mar 21, 2014

3/22/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" Valerian is a powerful agent for relaxation and sleep, with no dangerous side effects. In the past, aggression, epilepsy, shell shock and hysteria were all treated with valerian.

Hoodia

Mar 14, 2014

3/15/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" Hoodia, native to the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa, works as an appetite suppressant by telling the brain that the stomach is full without affecting the rest of the body's functioning. After a long legal battle, the San bushmen of the Kalahari won a settlement for traditional claims to the knowledge of the plant. 

Horse Chestnut

Mar 7, 2014

3/8/14: This week, on "The Plant Detective:" Horse chestnut improves circulation by strengthening vein walls, improving blood flow, and fighting inflammation. Applied topically, it can also reduce swelling after injuries.

Bilberry: Eye Health in a Berry

Feb 28, 2014

"The Plant Detective," March 1st, 2014: Bilberry is attracted by the pigment in our eyes, and once there, it acts as a powerful antioxidant while improving circulation and strengthening capillaries and cell walls. In Europe, it's part of conventional treatment for macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and more.

Star Anise

Feb 21, 2014

February 22nd, 2014: In traditional Chinese medicine, Chinese star anise is prescribed for colicky babies and sluggish digestion. But today, it's also a source of shikimic acid, a precursor in the pharmaceutical synthesis of Tamiflu, one of the only treatments right now for avian influenza. Japanese star anise, Illicium anisatum, a similar tree, is highly toxic and inedible.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Milk Thistle II

Feb 14, 2014

February 15th, 2014: Milk thistle is both a noxious weed and the tenth best-selling medicinal herb in the U.S. Its role in protecting the liver points to the scope of its potential. Research is ongoing into its ability to protect against prostate and skin cancer, enhance certain cancer drugs, prevent some side effects of chemotherapy, protect against damage from UV light, and more.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Milk Thistle I

Feb 7, 2014

February 8th, 2014: Compounds in milk thistle keep toxins out of liver cells, stimulating liver repair and exerting antioxidant power. Milk thistle can also reverse the effects of amanita mushroom poisoning.

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Lavender

Jan 31, 2014

February 1st, 2014: Fragrant and medicinal, lavender can affect people's alertness and mood. Depending on the species, it can stimulate or calm, sharpen or soothe. It's helpful in treating anxiety and sleep disturbances.

Cinchona

Jan 24, 2014

January 25th, 2014: Cinchona is the national tree of Peru and Ecuador. Its bark contains the alkaloid quinine, which since the 1600s, has been used to treat the fever and chills of malaria.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Elderberry

Jan 17, 2014

January 18th, 2014: Elderberry is an immune-booster, an antioxidant more potent than vitamin C, a stress reducer, and a powerful anti-viral. As they say in Austria:  “Tip your hat to the elder.”

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Cinnamon

Jan 10, 2014

January 11th, 2014: Compounds in the beloved spice show activity against Type-2 diabetes among people with insulin resistance; cinnamon may resensitize cells to insulin. Researchers are studying cinnamon as well for its effects on HIV, colorectal cancer, multiple sclerosis and Alheimer's disease.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Foxglove-Digitalis

Jan 4, 2014

January 4th, 2014: From old wives' tales to pharmaceutical. Compounds in digitalis treat atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure, restoring the heart's ability to process fluids. Lanoxin - from the species, Digitalis lanata - remains one of the top cardiovascular drugs in the U.S.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Myrrh, An Ancient, Precious Resin

Dec 27, 2013

December 28th & 30th, 2013:Prized as incense, myrrh plays a role in the ceremonies of many religions, but also in medicine. Its antimicrobial qualities have made it useful for treating wounds, infection, inflammation, and candida - and today, it's found in toothpastes.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Frankincense: Tears of a Tree

Dec 20, 2013

December 21st & 23rd, 2013:For millenia throughout the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa, resinous nuggets from the frankincense tree have made fragrant and insecticidal smoke when burned. Frankincense is considered sacred as well as medicinal, but today, the trees aren't reproducing.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Rauwolfia, a.k.a. Snakeroot

Dec 13, 2013

December 14th & 16th, 2013: The twisted root of the Asian plant Rauwolfia is a traditional Ayurvedic remedy for hypertension and insanity. As the modern anti-psychotic and blood pressure drug Reserpine, 1970s studies linked it to serious side effects, but recently, it's made a comeback as a valuable hypertensive. 

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Willow: Tree Bark That Begat Aspirin

Dec 6, 2013

December 7th & 9th, 2013: Willow, the original source of aspirin, is still prescribed by herbalists, particularly for urinary tract infections and muscle pain.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

November 30th & December 2nd, 2013: The root of the licorice shrub treats digestive problems, inflammation, ulcers, colds and many other ailments, but it creates problems when consumed in excess, raising blood pressure and causing electrolyte imbalances. American candy manufacturers substitute anise seed flavoring.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Licorice I: Never Mind the Spoonful of Sugar

Nov 22, 2013

November 23rd & 25th, 2013: Licorice is an important shrub around the world, treating many ailments. The chemicals contained in licorice are thought to decrease swelling, thin mucus secretions, decrease cough, and increase the chemicals in our body that heal ulcers.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Prickly Ash

Nov 15, 2013

November 16th & 18th, 2013: The leaves, bark (sans thorns), root bark and berries of Prickly Ash are medicinal, soothing sore throat and skin inflammation, increasing saliva, and improving blood flow and digestion. North Americans used it to numb toothache.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

Henbane, Shakespeare's Little Helper

Nov 8, 2013

November 9th & 11th, 2013: Henbane is the source of the drug hyoscyamine, the alkaloid that put Juliet to sleep and poisoned Hamlet's father. In proper doses, it helps relieve gastrointestinal disorders, heart problems, and symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.

http://www.floradelaterre.com/

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