Flora de la Terre

The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat December 20, 2014

Mistletoe I: A Parasite That Can Hurt Or Heal

European mistletoe (Viscum album). (CC BY 2.0)
Credit Flickr user, free photos

Mistletoe, a parasitic plant that grows on a wide range of host trees, shows up on every continent but Antarctica - and on each continent, it's been used in folk medicine. From ancient Greece into twentieth-century America, it was prescribed for epilepsy. Over the centuries, arthritis, many menstrual problems, miscarriage (through controlling bleeding), hypertension and pain are just a portion of the long list of conditions it has treated. It's prescribed frequently in Europe. But don't try any of these uses without a trained health practitioner, because mistletoe can be toxic.

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat July 12, 2014

Asian Ginseng

7/12/14: This week on The Plant Detective: Asian ginseng, Panax ginseng, helps people with Type 2 diabetes maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Both Asian and American ginseng contain ginsenosides, just in different proportions. Asian ginseng stimulates while American ginseng calms, and in the terms of Chinese traditional medicine, Panax ginseng promotes yang energy and cleans excess yin. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) does the opposite.

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat July 5, 2014

Tea II

7/5/14: This week on The Plant Detective: They may have different flavors but black, green, white and oolong teas all come from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. They're just processed differently; black tea is fermented, green tea isn't. Unfermented green tea is especially high in catechins, those antioxidants that scavenge the blood for free radicals and are associated with lower rates of atherosclerosis.

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The Plant Detective
5:00 am
Sat June 28, 2014

Tea I

6/28/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:" According to archaeologists, human use of tea,  Camellia sinensis, goes back 500,000 years.  The flavonoids in tea are more effective antioxidants than Vitamins C or E - they seem to boost immunity and protect against cavities and ultraviolet rays. More research is needed to find out if tea's flavonoids protect against cardiovascular disease and certain kinds of cancer.

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The Plant Detective
8:00 am
Fri April 11, 2014

Bitter Melon II

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.

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The Plant Detective
8:00 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Bitter Melon I

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.

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