herbs and arsenic trace elements
Arsenic and Herbs

Arsenic in your food?? What is safe and what is not appears to be the question being asked. The major concern seems to be if there is "x" quantity of arsenic in a 5 oz. serving of something then will it harm a 250 pound male or will it harm a 10 pound infant if it is in formula. Presently no one knows the answer as to whether it is or is not harmful, and if so in what dosage to what type person.

Is this something new or is this something now being given media attention? We've known for decades that our body needs what are called trace minerals and other nutrients in order to survive and stay healthy. Arsenic tracings are part of the dietary nutritional requirements we need. Arsenic is healthy and beneficial given the right amount at the right time and actually provides the basics we need to stay healthy.

Presently there is concern that brown rice removes arsenic from the ground in greater amounts than do other foods we eat. The source of the arsenic is

Lovage plant leaves growing in full sun, rich earth

Lovage, America's Most Underrated Herb

  Lovage (Levisticum officinale, Koch.), a perennial, native of the Mediterranean region. The large, dark-green, shining radical leaves are usually divided into two or three segments. Toward the top the thick, hollow, erect stems divide to form opposite, whorled branches which bear umbels of yellow flowers, followed by highly aromatic, hollowed fruits ("seeds") with three prominent ribs. Propagation is by division or by seeds not over three years old. In late summer when the seed ripens, it is sown and the seedlings transplanted either in the fall or as early in spring as possible to their permanent places. Rich, moist soil is needed. Root division is performed in early spring. With cultivation and alternation like that given to Angelica, the plants should last for several years.

   Formerly lovage was used for a great variety of purposes, but nowadays it is restricted almost wholly to confectionery, the young stems being handled like those of Angelica. So far as I have been able to learn, the leaf stalks and stem bases, which were formerly blanched like celery, are no longer used in this way.

   Lovage is one of the most underrated herbs Americans have not found out about.  The flavor of lovage leaves is a nutty, cucumber with a cruncy texture in the stalks. The fragrance of simply pulling leaves and bringing into the kitchen will overwhelm any other fragrances and bring hunger to your lips as you enjoy the delightful aroma.  For me, Bob founder of Herbfest, this is my favorite undiscovered herb to begin growing and using.


Barberry Herb Plant Used As Liver Cleanser & Seeds For Jam Flavoring Heritage herb                                                         Barberry Herb Seeds on Plant

Barberry Plant   
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Barberry Seeds For Flavoring


  The Common Barberry (Berberis), which gives its name to a special order of plants, grows wild as a shrub in our English copses and hedges, particularly about Essex, being so called from Berberin, a pearl oyster, because the leaves are glossy like the inside of an oyster shell. It is remarkable for the light colour of its bark, which is yellow inside, and for its three-forked spines. Provincially it is also termed Pipperidge-bush, from "pepin," a pip, and "rouge," red, as descriptive of its small scarlet juiceless fruit, of which the active chemical principles, as well as of the bark, are "berberin" and "oxyacanthin." The sparingly-produced juice of the berries is cooling and astringent. It was formerly held in high esteem by the Egyptians, when diluted as a drink, in pestilential fevers. The inner, yellow bark, which has been long believed to exercise a medicinal effect on the liver, because of its colour, is a true biliary purgative. An infusion of this bark, made with boiling water, is useful in jaundice from congestive liver, with furred tongue, lowness of spirits, and yellow complexion; also for swollen spleen from malarious exposure. A medicinal tincture (H.) is made of the root-branches and the root-bark, with spirit of wine; and if given three or four times a day in doses of five drops with one tablespoonful of cold water, it will admirably rouse the liver to healthy and more vigorous action. Conversely the tincture when of reduced strength will stay bilious diarrhoea. British farmers dislike the [43] Barberry shrub because, when it grows in cornfields, the wheat near it is blighted, even to the distance of two or three hundred yards. This is because of a special fungus which is common to the Barberry, and being carried by the wind reproduces itself by its spores destructively on the ears of wheat, the AEcidium Berberidis, which generates Puccinia.

   Clusius setteth it down as a wonderful secret which he had from a friend, "that if the yellow bark of Barberry be steeped in white wine for three hours, and be afterwards drank, it will purge one very marvellously."

   The berries upon old Barberry shrubs are often stoneless, and this is the best fruit for preserving or for making the jelly. They contain malic and citric acids; and it is from these berries that the delicious confitures d'epine vinette, for which Rouen is famous, are commonly prepared. And the same berries are chosen in England to furnish the kernel for a very nice sugar-plum. The syrup of Barberries will make with water an excellent astringent gargle for raw, irritable sore throat; likewise the jelly gives famous relief for this catarrhal affection. It is prepared by boiling the berries, when ripe, with an equal weight of sugar, and then straining. For an attack of colic because of gravel in the kidneys, five drops of the tincture on sugar every five minutes will promptly relieve, as likewise when albumen is found by analysis in the urine.

   A noted modern nostrum belauds the virtues of the Barberry as specific against bile, heartburn, and the black jaundice, this being a remedy which was "discovered after infinite pains by one who had studied for thirty years by candle light for the good of his countrymen." In Gerard's time at the village of Ivor, near Colebrooke, most of the hedges consisted solely of Barberry bushes.

  The following is a good old receipt for making Barberry jam:—Pick the fruit from the stalks, and bake it in an earthen pan; then press it through a sieve with a wooden spoon. Having mixed equal weights of the prepared fruit, and of powdered sugar, put these together in pots, and cover the mixture up, setting them in a dry place, and having sifted some powdered sugar over the top of each pot. Among the Italians the Barberry bears the name of Holy Thorn, because thought to have formed part of the crown of thorns made for our Saviour.

   I've reprinted below a very nice discussion of how certain spices can aid our digestion and increase our overall health.   This is reprinted from a free  nutrition newsletter I receive.  The actual article is here.

   The general distinction between a herb and a spice is this.  An herb is the actual plant itself and we consume the plant, leaves, roots, etc., including the essential oils,  and this use of a plant is known as herbal.   Once the plant produces a seed then the byproduct of the herb: seed, becomes what is called a spice.   Much of this article deals with the use of spices however it also emphasizes a greater point we make with herbs health benefits at HerbFest each year,  and that is by using herbs,  less healthy foods are consumed, ie. excessive salt and sugar. 

Scientists explore health benefits of spices

Ginger mixed into holiday cookies or cinnamon on top of breakfast oatmeal might be adding far more than flavor, said researchers who are exploring how spices benefit health. Dr. David Heber, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California, Los Angeles, said many spices have biological effects even in the amount commonly used in food.

“Four grams of cinnamon can impact insulin on blood sugar,” Heber said. “Ginger can help improve digestion and lead to a reduction in muscle pain.”

Heber’s studies are among those funded by the McCormick Science Institute. Chief Science Officer Dr. Hamed Faridi said MSI’s goal is to find out “how the spices and herbs people consume as part of a regular, healthy diet can help them.” For example, MSI found that adding 1 gram of red pepper to tomato soup allows people to burn more calories during the next four hours.

MSI also supports studies looking at how blends of concentrated antioxidant spices affect oxidation products formed when hamburgers are grilled. Heber said adding spices to meat during cooking reduces the amount of lipid peroxides produced by 70%. Lipid peroxides are linked to cell damage.

Heber, author of “What Color Is Your Diet?,” said he urges people not to eat a “brown and beige diet.” For those who do not like the taste of healthy, colorful fruits and vegetables, adding spices “can make them taste better and give a boost of antioxidant power,” Heber said.

Pomegranate gets attention for its antioxidants, but Heber said a teaspoon of cloves or cinnamon has more antioxidant power than 8 ounces of pomegranate juice.

Spices have been used for thousands of years by many cultures to add flavor to food and for health benefits, but studies are adding scientific data to what were anecdotal reports.

“Bottom line, we are just beginning to learn the amount of spices needed to produce beneficial effects,” Faridi said. “With the exception of cinnamon, there were very little human data with actual spices and herbs that measured such benefits before MSI.”

Research funded by MSI includes controlled dietary intervention, some double blind, meaning researchers and trial participants do not know who is getting intervention. Studies using spices and herbs in regular food are not double blind. Both offer valuable information, Faridi said, because blind studies measure objective endpoints, such as antioxidant capacity in the blood, while blinding is not as important in research that measures subjective endpoints, such as pain.

“Much remains to be learned,” Faridi said, “but because spices and herbs have no significant nutritional downsides — calories, fat, sodium, sugar — and can make healthy foods more appealing from a culinary perspective, it makes sense to consume a variety of them as part of a healthy, balanced diet.”

Image credit: iStockphoto


    For Energy Use Cooked Foods, Not Raw, Sesoned with Organic Herbs            For More Energy Use Herbs To Season Cooked Foods

   Often the Herbanite assumes there is more nutrient matter in non processed foods, than in processed foods.  

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