Alternatives & Traditional

Posts tagged ‘lapacho’

Kava and Hepatitis

As we can see, herbs are often claimed to have dangerous adverse effects that do not really exist.  The FDA commonly does this in an attempt to gain more control over herbs, which helps them to protect their illegal investments in pharmaceutical companies and to protect their cozy relationship.  As with chaparral, kava was also given a false reputation of causing cases of hepatitis.

Kava refers to the INNER ROOT of the kava plant.  Kava has been used for centuries as both medicine, and as a mind altering drug when specially prepared.  For centuries kava has had a reputation of being quite safe except when abused.  By this I mean extremely high doses over a period of time. Overuse by kava addicts can lead to thickening and peeling of the skin.  This has never been seen in normal use of kava capsules.  And no cases of hepatitis were ever reported from traditional preparation and normal use of kava.

A few years back though, there were actually cases of hepatitis appearing out of nowhere in people taking kava supplements.  The medical journals and news media jumped all over the story and reported repeatedly that kava was dangerous and caused hepatitis.  Yet they never reported all the facts or the truth even when the problem was exposed.  In fact, the problem stemmed from the greed of a pharmaceutical company looking to cash in on the herbal movement bandwagon.  The company traveled to Fiji to obtain information on the use of the herb and looking for kava sources.

During traditional preparation, the islanders would strip off the outer root bark and discard it.  Only the inner root was being used for consumption.  The pharmaceutical company decided that they could buy up all of the waste the islanders were discarding for next to nothing, dry it, grind it, capsule it and sell it.  So this is exactly what they did.  Though in the blinding glare of dollar signs and in their rush to get in on the bandwagon they overlooked an important rule of herbs.  Not all parts of a plant have the same chemistry!  Although a few plants will have basically the same alkaloids, glycosides, etc. throughout the plant in varying amounts this is not common.  It is more common to have totally different chemistry throughout the plant.  For example, cocklebur root is a pain killer.  The leaves are used to treat asthma and the seeds used to stop diarrhea.  And when using lapacho (pau d’ arco, taheebo, ipe roxo), the inner bark is used, not the outer bark, which does not have the medicinal properties.  Kava is no different.  The reason the islanders were discarding the outer bark of the kava was because they knew that the outer bark was toxic!

If the pharmaceutical company would have taken the time to ask questions on the preparation and looked into the chemistry then the isolated cases of hepatitis could have been avoided and kava would not have received an undeserved bad reputation.  General use of the inner root of kava remains safe as it always has.


Medicinal Properties of Chaparral Part 2

Chaparral is best known for its ability to treat cancer effectively.  The antitumor effects of chaparral have been verified in studies conducted by the universities of both Nevada and Utah.  One of the things that makes chaparral unique in its ability to treat cancer is the fact that it “attacks” the cancer through multiple mechanisms.  Since the majority of cancers have a microbial origin the first mechanism is through the destruction of viruses, bacteria and fungi.  Chronic inflammation has also been linked to the formation of cancers meaning that chaparral’s anti-inflammatory properties can inhibit some cancers.  Chaparral can inhibit cancers triggered, or aggravated, by free radicals and toxins due to its antioxidant and cleansing properties.  Chaparral’s liver cleansing properties makes it helpful for hormonal induced cancers since the liver is responsible for the breakdown of excess hormones.  And finally, chaparral inhibits mitochondrial enzymes, which in turn inhibits the cellular division of cancer cells.  In short, this means chaparral can inhibit cancer growth.

Chaparral’s ability to kill microbes makes it useful for a number of diseases linked to microbial infections.  These include cancers (viral, bacterial, and fungal forms), heart disease (chlamydia bacteria), hepatitis (viral, bacterial, and fungal forms), rheumatoid (chlamydia bacteria) and other forms of infectious arthritis, multiple sclerosis (human herpes virus type 6), ulcerative colitis (mycoavium complex bacterium), Crohn’s disease (mycoavium complex bacterium), type 1 diabetes (viral), pneumonia (viral, bacterial, and fungal forms), bronchitis (viral, bacterial, and fungal forms), etc.  One of the most interesting areas of study for the use of chaparral is in the treatment of herpes infections where studies are looking very promising.

Chaparral is very resinous and so is not easy to prepare as a tea.  Resins and water do not mix and the resin will separate out and stick to the pan wall when trying to make the tea.  Therefore, I recommend not using this herb as a tea.  I personally prefer the powder mixed with other herbs.  By combining the powder with other powdered herbs the other powdered herbs will help prevent the resins in the chaparral from clumping the powder in to a big “gumball” when it comes in to contact with water.  This helps maintain a larger surface area thereby increasing the absorption and effectiveness of the herb.  In addition, the addition of other herbs can increase the effectiveness of each herb . For instance, chaparral combined with red clover blossom increases the antitumor activity of both herbs.  Combining chaparral with pau d’ arco (lapacho, taheebo, ipe roxo) increases the antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal activities of both herbs.

Again, the FDA tried to claim that chaparral was linked to 13 cases of hepatitis though medical reviews subsequently found no evidence that the chaparral was linked to the cases.  In fact, it was shown that many of the patients were found to have pre-existing liver failure or were taking pharmaceutical drugs well known for causing liver damage.  On the other hand, fresh chaparral does contain unstable alkaloids that may damage the liver if ingested for a length of time.  Therefore, chaparral should be dried and aged several months before use to destroy these alkaloids.

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