The Wide World of EthnobotanicalsLynn Seminole
Siesta Botanicals carries several botanicals that have been shown to offer a wide variety of benefits including stress relief, improved concentration and energy levels.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry, is an ancient Ayurvedic herb. It belongs to a class of medicinal herbs known as adaptogens and has been used for more than 3,000 years to help reduce stress, improve stamina and increase concentration levels. Many of ashwagandha’s health benefits are attributed to its high levels of withanolides, hormone precursors that can convert into human physiological hormones to help bring balance to the body. Studies have shown that ashwagandha can help improve sleep and reduce stress. In one review, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, ashwagandha was shown to outperform psychotherapy by reducing anxiety in a group of subjects by 56.5% compared to only 30.5% in the psychotherapy group.
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) hails from a small, woody shrub in the passifloraceae family that produces small, aromatic flowers. Damiana is commonly used to enhance sexual health and decrease anxiety. It is also popularly used in Mexico to make a liqueur which is then used as a substitute for Curaçao triple sec, is a type of strong, sweet and colorless orange-flavored liqueur. In 2013, we had the pleasure of visiting plantations to study the cultivation & reverance of this plant.
Marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) is a perennial species indigenous to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa where it has been used in herbalism and as an ornamental plant for centuries. A confection made from the root since ancient Egyptian times evolved into today’s marshmallow treat, but most modern marshmallow treats no longer contain any marshmallow root. Traditionally, people have used marshmallow root for digestive problems, cough and skin conditions such as eczema. In one study, published in the journal Pharmaceutical Biology, researchers found that marshmallow root helped with lipemia, inflammation and gastric ulcer in rats with no observed negative effects.
Cacao beans (Theobroma Cacao), a highly nutritious superfood, grow on trees in Central and South America. Dry cacao solids are the components of cocoa beans that remain after the cocoa butter (the fat component) has been extracted from chocolate liquor (roasted cocoa beans that have been ground into a liquid state). Raw organic cacao has more than 40 times the antioxidants than blueberries and more calcium than cow’s milk. It’s also the highest plant-based provider of iron. People commonly consume cacao to help with issues such as depression, stress, blood pressure and heart health. Research has shown that cacao can help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, cocoa flavanols have been shown to exert anti-inflammatory action, improve blood flow, and decrease blood pressure and platelet aggregation.
Organic Ceylon Cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), also known as true cinnamon, is a small evergreen tree belonging to the family Lauraceae, native to Sri Lanka. Traditionally, cinnamon has been used to help with bronchitis and upset stomach. It is considered a superfood and loaded with powerful antioxidants. Although the inner bark of several other Cinnamomum species is also used to make cinnamon, cinnamon from C. verum is considered by culinarians to be of superior quality.
Organic Holy Basil (Tulsi)
Holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), or Tulsi, is an aromatic perennial plant in the family Lamiaceae. It is native to the Indian subcontinent and widespread as a cultivated plant throughout the Southeast Asian tropics. Tulsi is cultivated for religious and traditional medicine purposes, and for its essential oil. It is widely used as an herbal tea, commonly used in Ayurveda, and has a place within the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, in which devotees perform worship involving holy basil plants or leaves. Many people consume holy basil as a stress reliever. Holy basil has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Hundreds of scientific studies in vitro, animal and human experiments have shown that tulsi exerts a unique combination of actions that include antimicrobial, anti-diarrheal, antioxidant, anticataract, anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective, cardio-protective, anti-diabetic, memory enhancement, anti-asthmatic, anti-arthritic, adaptogenic and anti-stress activities.
Moringa oleifera (Moringaceae) is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree of the family Moringaceae, native to the Indian subcontinent. Common names include moringa, drumstick tree, horseradish tree, and ben oil tree or benzolive tree. The flowers are fragrant and hermaphroditic, surrounded by five unequal, thinly-veined, yellowish-white petals. Moringa is an extremely nutritious plant known for its high levels of antioxidants. People consume moringa to lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve heart health.
Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a flowering plant of the ginger family Zingiberaceae. The plant is a perennial, rhizomatous, herbaceous plant native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia and has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The rhizomes are used fresh or boiled in water and dried, after which they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder commonly used as a coloring and flavoring agent in many Asian cuisines, especially for curries, as well as for dyeing. Turmeric powder has a warm, bitter, black pepper-like flavor and earthy, mustard-like aroma. Turmeric has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research has shown that curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, can benefit inflammation, pain, metabolic syndrome, and help in the management of inflammatory and degenerative eye conditions.
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lingzhi) is a polypore fungus belonging to the genus Ganoderma. Its red-varnished, kidney-shaped cap and peripherally inserted stem gives it a distinct fan-like appearance. Reishi mushrooms are full of antioxidants and are a powerful immune system booster. Research in cancer patients has found that some of the molecules in Reishi mushrooms can increase the activity of helpful white blood cells known as natural killer cells.
Yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is an evergreen tree that is a member of the holly family from the tropics of northern Argentina’s beautiful Corrientes and Misiones provinces. Wildly popular in South America, Yerba-maté is brewed into a tea from its ground dried leaves & stemlets. In 2013, we had the pleasure of visiting plantations to study the cultivation and reverence of this plant. Yerba contains caffeine and is often used as a substitute for coffee.