Take for example, my herbal research project this afternoon. A little news headline caught my attention: "Ancient Chinese Medicine Put Through It's Paces for Pancreatic Cancer." I like hearing news about plants and cancer. I hold out firm faith that the good Lord put the cure for cancer on this planet, and it's been lurking here somewhere just waiting to be found. So this article immediately drew me to it. They are testing an extract of the bark from the Amur Cork tree (Phellodendron Amurense) on pancreatic and prostate cancer with optimistic-looking results. That's pretty cool. I wondered what the tree looked like and where it grows.
Turns out the tree is native to China, but it is being sold for growing in Zones 4 and higher. That's where just about all of us Americans live. It's a quite pretty spreading shade tree. Also turns out its bark isn't just for cancer. Last August PubMed, the national clearinghouse for medical research, reported a study about a supplement that had Phellodendron in it. The supplement had worked really well in reducing cortisol hormone levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced to trigger our fight-flight reaction. It is associated with weight gain, jittery nerves, insomnia, and can lead to a crash and burn kind of thing physically - burned out, depressed, and anxious. All of those things were improved with this supplement in the study. So, think of it -- you could go to a garden nursery, order yourself an Amur Cork tree for your yard. Then, go out and collect a bit of bark from it, steep it, and drink your Cork tea every afternoon and fall right out of stress, anxiety, obesity, and cancer -- all in one shot! WOW.
An even more fun side note on this is - the supplement is marketed under the name Relora and come to find out -- I had it sitting right in my dispensary already! And I didn't even realize that a supplement that I got a while back to try for weight loss (and hadn't gotten around to) had so many other uses.
With spring just around the corner, I'll be sharing some more blogs about other interesting, easier to find and grow herbs that you can be planting in your garden soon.