Garcinia cambogia Health Benefits: for weight loss?

Garcinia fruit is usually yellow or greenish and looks like a small pumpkin

Garcinia fruit is usually yellow or greenish and looks like a small pumpkin

Although still called Garcinia cambogia (or just Garcinia) in the popular press, this old botanical name has been revised to Garcinia gummi-gutta, though you might still find it labelled as Garcinia cambogia, Cambogia gummi-gutta or Mangostana cambogia. So far as common names go, it is also known as brindleberry, gambooge fruit and Malabar tamarind.

Description

Garcinia is a tropical tree which reaches a height of 12m and is native to the Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats (West coast) of India. The fruit is yellow/green sometimes with a reddish tinge, about the size of an orange and pumpkin shaped.

Edible uses

In India and Southeast Asia, the rind and extracts of Garcinia are used in cooking, particularly in southern Thai kaeng som (fish curry). It is also used for curing fish in Sri Lanka and South India.

Medicinal uses

Garcinia rind was formerly used to treat gastric ulcers, diarrhea and dysentery. It was promoted by Dr Oz, a US celebrity doctor, as a weight loss supplement some years ago. It’s also used in Ayurveda as a digestive aid.

A compound found in the rind called hydroxycitric acid (HCA) is believed to boost fat burning during exercise and reduce appetite by raising serotonin levels and blocking ATP citrate lyase, an enzyme involved in the production of fat. It is also believed to increase endurance in female athletes, but with no similar effect on men. It’s also used to lower cholesterol, manage stress and level out mood swings.

Research has found that the type of HCA used affects the result. Calcium hydroxycitrate on its own is mainly ineffective, but a mixture of calcium and potassium or magnesium HCA works well. You should always check that the supplement you are using contains either potassium or magnesium, and preferably a low lactone content.

Take about 1.5g three times a day, 30-60 minutes before a meal. If taken with food, the HCA can bind to some of the components in the food and become inactive.

Contra-indications and warnings

At least one supplement containing Garcinia has been withdrawn because of reported side effects including hepatotoxicity and gastrointestinal problems.

High doses may lead to nausea, gastrointestinal discomfort, and headaches. Discontinue use if affected.

Consult your doctor before taking Garcinia if you are currently taking prescribed medication, particularly SSRIs, anti-depressants, dextromethorphan, pethidine, pentazocine or tramodol.

Do not use during pregnancy/breastfeeding, if you have existing liver or kidney damage, diabetes, dementia or are taking blood thinners such as warfarin.

Where to get it

I offer various Garcinia products in my online store.

Aromatherapy

Garcinia is not used in aromatherapy.

Final Notes

Unless you live in its native area or a similar climate, it’s unlikely you will want to grow Garcinia, but if you do decide to, remember that to ensure that any remedy to extract from it is safe, it is essential to follow organic growing techniques. To find out more about organic gardening visit the Gardenzone.


Meadowsweet health benefits: for gout, diarrhea and fever

Meadowsweet is a useful dye plant

Meadowsweet is a useful dye plant

Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden

Meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria (syn. Spiraea ulmaria and Ulmaria pentapetala – meaning five petaled), is also sometimes called bridewort, brideswort, dolloff, English meadowsweet, European meadowsweet, lady of the meadow, meadsweet (from its use to flavor mead), meadow queen, meadow-wort, pride of the meadow and queen of the meadow – which last name is shared with the totally unrelated gravel root.

Meadowsweet is a native of Europe, where it is usually found growing in wet areas, even boggy ones, though not on acid peat soils. It makes a good candidate for a bog garden, as it will grow in any neutral or alkaline soil, even heavy clay, so long as it is wet, or at least moist. It is a hardy perennial which reaches a height of around 4 feet (1.2m). It won’t grow in full shade, but then again, few plants do.

Meadowsweet is a good bee plant and seems to be offensive to deer.

Meadowsweet is an extremely useful dye plant, yielding no less than 3 different colors: use the tops with alum to produce a greenish-yellow; the roots with no mordant for black; or stems and leaves for blue (fixed by boiling the item with sorrel root after dying). It’s probably more often used in pot pourri, imparting an almond-like fragrance, and in the days when strewing was common, it was one of the herbs used for this purpose, particularly in the apartments of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

You can also use it to make meadowsweet beer: use equal quantities of meadowsweet and dandelion, double the quantity of water and boil for 20 minutes. Strain and measure the liquid, adding 900g sugar, 15g (1 ounce) yeast and the juice of 1 lemon to each 1.5L (2 lbs/19 US cups or 1 UK gallon). Ferment in the usual way.

Anybody who has a sensitivity to aspirin should not use this plant – even for beer – except under qualified supervision!

A standard infusion is made using 30g (1 ounce) of the whole dried herb (3 handfuls of fresh) to 425ml (1.75 US cups, 0.75 UK pints) of boiling water, leaving to brew for between 15 minutes and 4 hours before straining off and discarding the solid matter.

Because of the aspirin content, meadowsweet can be used internally to treat any condition that produces a fever including colds and other respiratory infections, also for inflammatory conditions like gout and rheumatic pain. It’s also useful for water retention, hyperacidity, heartburn, kidney and bladder disorders and is a well known treatment for diarrhea, particularly in children. Externally, it makes a useful wash for minor wounds and sore eyes. Registered practitioners use this plant to treat gastric and peptic ulcers, but I don’t recommend this use by amateurs.

As with all plants grown for medicinal use, Meadowsweet must ge grown organically to avoid corruption of its essential constituents. To find out more about growing organic meadowsweet visit the Gardenzone.