Morgan Botanicals

  (Loveland, Colorado)
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Papaya: More Than Just A Digestive Enzyme

 Jessica Morgan, M.H.The papaya has been regarded as one of the most valuable of tropical fruits and was first cultivated in Mexico several centuries before the emergence of the Mesoamerian classic cultures, but is native to the tropics of the Americas. Christopher Columbus reportedly called Carica papaya "the fruit of the angels" because they are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients, minerals and fiber.

It is now known that the papaya fruit is an excellent source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, C and E and also contains small amount of calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamine and niacin as well as being rich in antioxidant nutrients, flavonoids and carotenes, plus it's low in calories and sodium.

But, beyond the fruit, did you know that the whole papaya plant is usable. Papaya can be used as a food, a cooking aid, and in medicine. The black seeds are edible and have a sharp, spicy taste and have been used as a substitute for black pepper, plus the roots are also used to make salt. In some parts of Asia, the young leaves of papaya are steamed and eaten like spinach and in some parts of the world, papaya leaves are made into tea as a preventative for malaria. The stem and bark are also used in rope production.

Papaya is mostly marketed in tablet form to remedy digestive problems and is cultivated for its milky juice or latex (obtained from the fruit), which is the source of the proteolytic enzyme papain., but papain is also applied topically (in countries where it grows) for the treatment of cuts, rashes, stings and burns. Papain ointment is commonly made from fermented papaya flesh, and is applied as a gel-like paste.

Papaya leaf, latex, and fruit contain several digestive enzymes, which account for the herb's action as a digestive aid and its ability to tenderize, that is, predigest meat. The latex contains the most enzymes, followed by the leaves, and lastly the fruit, though the fruit still contains enough to aid digestion. The most important digestive enzyme in papaya is papain, similar to the human digestive enzyme pepsin, which helps break down proteins.  In fact, papain is sometime called vegetable pepsin.  The herb's other enzymes include one similar to human rennin, which breaks down milk proteins, and another similar topectase, which helps digest starches. 

The effectiveness of the papaya as a medicinal herb has been known since the 1750's but it wasn't until the 1870's that its source of enzymes were recognized. Papain is by far the most widely studied enzyme of the papaya and has been used for wounds in hospitals, clotting milk, for contraception and abortion and as treatment for all kinds of digestive problems.

"Women in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and other countries have long used green papaya as a remedy for contraception and abortion. Enslaved women in the West Indies were noted for consuming papaya to prevent pregnancies and thus preventing their children from being born into slavery. Medical research in animals has confirmed the contraceptive and abortifacient capability of papaya, and also found that papaya seeds have contraceptive effects in adult male langur monkeys, and possibly in adult male humans, as well. Ripe papaya is not teratogenic and will not cause miscarriage in small amounts but the Phytochemicals in papaya may suppress the effects of progesterone."

In tropical folk medicine, the fresh latex is smeared on boils, warts and freckles and given as a vermifuge.  A root decoction is claimed to expel roundworms. The leaf also functions as a primitive soap substitute in laundering. Dried leaves have been smoked to relieve asthma or as a tobacco substitute. The sap is used topically to cure inflammation and itchy skin. It is used to clarify beer, also to treat wool and silk before dyeing, to de-hair hides before tanning, and it serves as an adjunct in rubber manufacturing. You can find it in toothpastes, cosmetics and detergents, as well as many pharmaceutical preparations to aid in digestion.

But, to support digestive health, eat up and drink up! ~Place a teaspoon or so of papaya leaf in cup of boiling water. Allow to steep 3-5 minutes. Strain, serve, and enjoy. Steep time and amount of tea used can be adjusted to suit your taste.

As always, please email any questions to herbalist@morganbotanicals.com.

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Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.

Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.

Jessica Morgan, M.H.

 

 
 

Strawberry Is More Than Just A Berry

Jessica Morgan, M.H.

 

 

Along with new life, new leaves and new blooms, fresh herbs are in abundance in Spring. For me, this is the time to start collecting leafy herbs like strawberry leaf for storage. The garden strawberry is the most common plant of the genus Fragaria which is cultivated worldwide in the garden for its fruit. Although there are several varieties of wild strawberries, all of the species do have similar herbal properties, but mainly the leaves and rhizomes are used for this purposes. If left alone, this easy to grow perennial will successfully propagate itself and leave you with an abundance of perfectly usable parts.

The medicinal value of strawberry leaf is similar to that of its cousin, the red raspberry which are both rich in tannins, vitamin C and are known to posses diuretic and astringent qualities. Herbalists also regard the leaf as a tonic for the female reproductive system, using it in exactly the same way as raspberry. I like to recommend strawberry leaf tea to both pregnant and nursing mothers as well as young children due to the high contents of calcium, trace minerals and iron. The tea is almost as yummy as the berry, being fresh, mild and fruity.

Strawberry leaf tea has been used to treat a multitude of symptoms from eczema to stomach disorders. The tannins in the leaves are a gentle remedy for diarrhea, intestinal and urinary complaints. Use the leaves in the bath water for soaking away aches and pains. The tea is also used for healthy teeth, gums and bones. Strawberry leaf has been known to help heal wounds, scar tissue, and fractures; plus build resistance to infection, and aid in the prevention and treatment of the common cold.

I harvest the young leaves throughout the spring and summer, but particularly during blossoming for the finest flavor, and the roots in autumn which are dried for later use. It's important to collect only the best leaves since it's common for the plant to have leaf blight, mold or fungus. Also, keep in mind that strawberry leaf may cause allergic reactions in people hypersensitive to strawberries, so don't use if you have known allergy's to this plant.

For a simple tea, drop a handful of fresh or 2 tsp dried herb into a teapot and pour boiling water over to fill. Cover and steep for five minutes. Sweeten with honey if needed. 


If you're looking for loose leaf, you can buy Dried Strawberry Leaf here in my Local Harvest store.

As always, email any questions to herbalist@morganbotanicals.com.

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Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.

Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.

Jessica Morgan, M.H.


 
 

Juniper Berries: The Forgotten Food and Medicine

 

Jessica Morgan, M.H. Juniper Berries, scientifically called Juniperus communis, come from the Juniper shrub and are widely found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The juniper is an evergreen tree native to Europe, Asia, and the northern parts of North America.

The herbal uses of the juniper berry dates back to early times. The first recorded mention of use is in an Egyptian papyrus from 1500 B.C.E. that tells of its use in treating tapeworms. Throughout history, Juniperus communis has been used by numerous different cultures to treat conditions such as warts, gout, skin growths, upset stomach,  and various urinary tract and kidney diseases.  It's been noted that Greek and Arabian physicians used juniper to treat many ailments as well as the Romans, who used it for all types of stomach disorders. Native Americans of the northeast used the berries as a food and medicinal herb used to relieve infection and ease the pain of arthritis. The Hopi boiled the berries and parts of the tree and consumed it to treat stomach disorders. Historically, juniper berries have been used to treat bladder and kidney infections and were used in tea as a way to disinfect surgeon's tools. The antiseptic properties of juniper berry helps aid in the removal of waste and acidic toxins from the body, and stimulate a fighting action against bacterial and yeast infections. Considered by some to be a useful diuretic, juniper has been used to remove excess water retention, which can help with water weight loss, as well as improving digestion and easing gas and stomach cramping without causing loss of electrolytes. Additionally, the berries are believed by some herbalists to be beneficial for reducing congestion and relieving asthma and colds.

The purple, blue, violet, or blackish-brown fruits are harvested in early autumn for culinary and medicinal use. To prevent loss of essential oil, juniper berries should not be ground, crushed, or rubbed until just before use. When added to food, juniper berries can help prevent gas and heartburn. Find dried Juniper Berries here.

**Continued overdose can cause renal irritation and blood in the urine, so only use in moderation. Since juniper berries can stimulate uterine contractions, avoid use during pregnancy. They should not be used by anyone who has inflammation of the kidneys.

As always, please email any questions to herbalist@morganbotanicals.com.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Jessica Morgan, M. H., Morgan Botanicals.

Disclaimer - The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should not use the information in this article for self-diagnosis or to replace any prescriptive medication. You should consult with a health care professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem, suffer from allergies, are pregnant or nursing.

Jessica Morgan, M.H.

 

 
 
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