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TOPICS: Ginseng; Herbal warning; Ginkgo; Vegetarian booklet

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Newman's News and Notes

Spring Volume: 1996 Issue: 3(1) page(s): 15

For those who follow information about ginseng's therapeutic uses, may I suggest a research article in a 1995 issue of Diabetes Care (Vol. 18(10), pp. 1373-1375) by three researchers, Sotaniemi, Haapakoski, and Rautio, of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University in Oulu, Finland. They did a double-blind placebo-controlled study of the therapeutic effectiveness of the ginseng extract coupled with weight loss. Results found positive vigor, mood, and psychomotor performance changes. Suggest you read the original and learn where and how it helped.

Hand-rolled herbs mixed in balls with honey, a traditional Chinese medication when dissolved in warm wine or tea, are used as a self-medication to treat a wide range of ailments. Be aware that some made in China were confiscated recently by the Fish and Wildlife Service because they detected potentially toxic levels of arsenic and mercury in eight out of nine batches (See the September 21, 1995 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine Vol. 333(12), pp. 803-804) for more details.

One of the best sources of information about the botany and chemistry of Ginkgo biloba L., the plant discussed in the article called Ginkgo Nuts in this issue, and other Chinese and western herbs and seeds can be found in the very first issue and subsequent issues of the Journal of Herbs, Spices & Medicinal Plants (published in 1992 by the Hayworth Press Inc. 10 Alice Street, Binghamton NY 13904). If current and good information is of importance to you, I recommend this gem of a journal. In a great article on this nut, which is really a seed, I learned that the outer fleshy layer of the seed has been known as a skin irritant since ancient days. It produces a contact dermatitis that, to those who are sensitive to it, can last for seven to ten days. Recommendation, don't eat the fleshy seed layer raw, the active allergens react as do similar compounds in poison ivy.

That same first journal issue has a short article on sea buckthorn, Hippophae rhamnoides L., discussing its food and medicinal uses. It is available as juice in cans, and as the fruit, also canned and can be found in Chinese and Eastern European food markets. The berries are high in many vitamins, particularly vitamin C. They are being tested in combinations with other foods, some already in use in Europe and China. Stay tuned for results of some research now in testing stages. They are looking at its value internally for ulcers and externally as a preparation for burns and bed sores.

Dr. Chan's Selected Chinese Vegetarian Recipes is a fine tiny treat. The twenty recipes in this pamphlet by Teamwork Press (Box 421434, San Diego CA 9214201434) is hot off the press with its copyright 1996. The Spinach Tofu recipe is perky and piquant; and the Sir-fried Baby Bok Choy with Bean Curd Stick is a gem. The Steamed Rice-Paper Rolls, for my taste, needed seasoning. However, the second time with the addition of garlic and ginger to the cilantro and scallions made quite a difference. S.Y Chan's editor, Larry Baum, was kind enough to send me a complimentary review copy. You'll need to write to the editor enclosing a checl fpr $6.00. That includes postage and handling.

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