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CELEBRATION

First mentioned in an ancient Chinese book, Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceous) is used throughout the Orient as a tonic food and healthful plant. Astragalus is a member of the legume family. It is an upright, yellow-flowered perennial herb that grows about two feet tall. The genus Astragalus encompasses more than 2000 species worldwide and is beleived by botanists to be the largest genus of flowering plants. Astragakus is a key herb in traditional Chinese "FuZhen" therapy. Traditional FuZhen theory concentrates on the body's own ability to rejuvinate and maintain food health. Astragalus is often taken with Ginseng and Reishi Mushroom.
 
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A small branched shrub found mainly in moors, humus-rich soil and open woods from lowlands to mountains, Bilberry (Vaccinum myrtillus) bears small blue-black, many-seeded berries. Also commonly known as whortleberry, Bilberry has been a source of fresh jam for hundreds of years. Extensively written about in 16th century herbals, this berry is native to northern Europe and Asia; northern Europe and Asia; with its nearest American counterpart being the huckleberry. During World War 2, Royal Air Force pilots swore that eating Bilberry jam prior to night missions significantly improved their visual acuity in the darkness.
 
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Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a tall stately plant native to the eastern forests of the United States and Canada. This herb was named Black because its dark roots, and Cohosh is Algonquian for "rough", another refrence to its roots. Early American settlers found that Black Cohosh was widely used by American Indian Tribes. Specifically, the hard, knotty rootstock or rhizome, which was used for a variety of health purposes. The Indians used it externally on the skin and internally for the nutritional needs of women. This explains why it was also known as "Squaw Root".
 
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Plant pharmacological studies have suggested that Calendula extracts have anti-viral, anti-genotoxic and anti-inflammatory properties. [4] Calendula in suspension or in tincture is used topically to treat acne, reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding and soothing irritated tissue.[5][6] There is "limited evidence" that calendula cream or ointment is effective in treating radiation dermatitis.[7][8] Calendula has been used traditionally for abdominal cramps and constipation.[9] In experiments with rabbit jejeunum the aqueous-ethanol extract of Calendula officinalis flowers was shown to have both spasmolytic and spasmogenic effects, thus providing a scientific rationale for this traditional use.
 
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Used for generations by the Ashaninka Indians, Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa), also known as Una de Gato, is a woody vine that gets its name from the two curved thorns at the base of each leaf. Cat's Claw grows wild in the highlands of the Peruvian rain forest where it grows up into trees. Studies have shown that the inner bark of the vine contains the same beneficial properties as the root and is the preffered plant part since it can be gathered without destroying the plant. In fact, the bark will grow back and replenish itself as long as the root remains intact. Cat's Claw is currently the focus of ongoing clinical studies and scientific review.
 
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Native to Eurasia and first used by ancient Egyptians, Chamomile (Matricia chamomilla) has daisy-like flowers and a long and storied history as a gentle, soothing herb. In traditional Gernan herbalism, Chamomile was so popular it was called alles zutrut, meaning "capable of anything". With its pleasing sweet apple aroma, it has always been one of the world's. In addition, its fragrance makes Chamomile a pleasant addition to potpurris and aromatic dried flower arrangements. Cosmetically, Chamomile makes a wonderfully soothing bath, a penetrating facial, and it can be used to bring golden highlights to brown hair.
 
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The practice of drinking Green Tea (Camellia sinensis) was brought to Japan by monks returning from their studies at the great Zen monostaries of 12th century China. For them, tea functioned as an aid to meditation, as a health aid, and as a tool to propagate Zen. As the years went by, tea and the reason for drinking it changed, but it never went out of fashion. Today, Green Tea is one of the three major non-acloholic beverages in the world. Green Tea is a typical non-fermented tea that is enjoyed by many and is immensley popular in Japan. It is utilzed as both a daily beverage and as a healthful drink. Green Tea contains a rich natural source of polyphenols and bioflavonoids.
 
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A North American native plant first grown by farmers in Mexico, Corn (Zea mays) has been harvested for over 7000 years. By the time Columbus arrived in the New World, Corn was being grown from canada to the tip of South America, but was largely unknown in Europe. Columbus recorded in his journal the many virtues of corn as taught by the Indians. Corn, with all its uses, has spread around the world. Cornsilk is the fine, silky, yellowish threads that stick out from the tip of an ear of corn. It may be used fresh or dried, usually by the sun, and has a long history of health virtues. It is also used in cosmetics as a fine grade, soothing face powder.
 
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Known for their tangy, refreshing taste, Cranberries (Vaccium oxycocoos) were supposedly part of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, but did not become a national tradition until after the Civil War. A small evergreen shrub, which grows in mountain forests and damp bogs from Alaska to Tennesee, the Cranberry bush produces pink or purple flowers in spring and brighte red berries in the fall. High in Vitamin C, Cranberries were a favorite among early sailors for preventing scurvy. Crannberries make flavorful jams and preserves and are used in a variety of beverages. It was 19th century German chemists who researched and defined many of Cranberry's valuable health benefits.
 
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Often brewed as a coffee sub-substitute, the roots of Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) can also be used as an ingredient in root beer. The cleaned, raw roots can also be sliced into salads or cooked and added to other vegetables. The taproot is white on the inside and dark brown on the outside and grows up to 6 inches long. The plant first appeared in the 10th century journals of Arabian physicians.

By the 16th century, the British considered Dandelion a valuable herbal plant and it has held a distinguished place among European herbalists for centuries. When the whole plant is used, Dandelion will work as a natural dye and turn a fabric a deep magenta.
 
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