The name Sambung means
SAMBUNG (Gynura procumbens)
In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to do further research on the herb Sambung, which I mentioned briefly in Newsletter No. 1.
Sambung has had numerous common names including: Mollucan Spinach, Leaves of the Gods, Sambung Nyawa which means 'extending life' (Malay), Daun Dewa, Bai Bing Ca (Chinese).
The bush may grow 30cm to 100 cm tall, and staking the plant is an advantage as the oval-shaped leaves to 10cm long have a rather thick, fleshy feel, and can weigh, down the stems. The stems are green, and may get tinges of purple, and the leaves may also have purple colourings. Orange flowers are similar in size and form to milk thistle flowers (Sonchus oleraceus). Sambung can be propagated from seeds and cuttings, and could be grown in a bucket-size pot or in the garden. Here at Nambour, in South East Queensland's sub-tropical conditions, plants like a little shade. In cold and temperate climates, the plant possibly would need to be treated as an annual, with seed saved for planting the next season.
The plant is well known in South East Asia, with folklore medicinal uses in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and the leaves of the plant are also eaten as a vegetable. Leaves have a mild flavour (some people say far better than spinach as a vegetable, while others say the leaves taste like green beans) and can be used raw in salads, added to soups, stir-fries, casseroles, condiments and sauces, rice dishes and other savoury meals. And when growing very well, and leaves are in excess, feed some to laying hens, or grow some plants in a poultry forage system.
Leaves can be made as a herbal tea using 5-10 cut up leaves to 1 cup of boiling water, stir and leave to steep 5 minutes, drink hot or cool. The flavour is quite pleasant. Other herbs can be added to the tea if desired, like peppermint, lemon myrtle, citronella grass, etc. Leaves (bruised or placed in boiling water to soften them) are applied externally as a poultice, or made into a salve for numerous skin conditions.
The herb has been noted for anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine, anti-pyretic, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-ageing, anti-allergy properties, and also actions as a blood cleanser, tonic, diuretic and pain killer. Some of its uses include: treating migraines, dyspepsia, constipation, arthritis, rheumatism, diabetes, dysentery, fevers, malaria, varicose veins, kidney stones, joint and back pain, knitting broken bones and strengthening ligaments, stroke and cardiovascular conditions, high cholesterol, lymphatic diseases, cancers, leukaemia, hepatitis, detoxifier, coughs, colds, sore throats, halitosis, laryngitis, flu, sinusitis, depression, urinary infections, renal failure, varicose veins, and as a "skin-care-elixir" for skin diseases, skin care and toning, acne, boils, bites. It supports male reproductive health and performance, including prostate function. Females have taken the herb for breast firming, menstrual cycle problems, and vagina contraction.
I came to hear of this herb from a man who called at the Herb Farm several years ago, who told me of his friend of 84 years, who had taken the leaves as a tea. He said, "His friend when 70 years of age was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He heard about the herb a few years after his cancer diagnosis and started taking the tea, and completely cleared prostate cancer. He has kept up taking the herb (5 years now), and today he looks like a man of 60." He made the tea with 9 large leaves, finely cut, placed in a saucepan with 2 cups of water, and brought to a low simmer for 2 minutes. The liquid was strained and drunk either hot or cool.
Many people from South East Asia know the herb as 'life extender'. Fred who visited the Herb Farm asking for the Sambung plant to grow, told me of his aged aunt, who started taking Sambung daily since 1988 as she had been diagnosed with kidney and bladder cancer, and 20 years later Fred said, she is still alive and active; a 'life extender' for Fred's aunt.
Sambung contains asparaginase. Asparaginase is an enzyme that has been found to lower levels of acrylamides in the body. Researchers say, acrylamides are seen as cancer causing substances, that are created when some foods are fried, baked, grilled or roasted. Acrylamides have also been found in foods, grown on mineral deleted soils.
The addition of asparaginase to foods is one strategy to lower acrylamide levels in foods, and this is where Sambung comes in by eating a few leaves daily, we provide a natural source of asparaginase. Any herb, a nature s remedy, that we can grow and use regularly for well-being, is most worthwhile.
Research has shown that it is an efficient regulator of blood sugar, and that the herb is also found to protect the kidneys, and also retinas, from damage caused by high blood sugar. It also lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides, and has anti-inflammatory and antiviral action. Diabetics who use the herb have experienced very satisfying results in lowering glucose levels, and normalising the blood sugar.
Now for non-diabetics, it is said, the herb does not have this lowering glucose level affect, and it is interesting, that, non-diabetics are able to get the other therapeutic benefits of Sambung without the danger of having their blood sugar levels manipulated below normal levels.
Sambung is one more herb, I have had a chance to get to know, for many benefits to our well-being; another good 'all-rounder-herb' for our gardens and health benefits.
I have recently read the book..."The Yeast Connection" by W.G. Crook, M.D.
and now I have been researching turmeric for its benefits in fighting candida.
TURMERIC USED FOR KILLING CANDIDA
Candida albicans is a major problem for a large percentage of the population, due to our diet of processed foods, high sugar intake, and breads made with fast-rise yeast. Our hot summer temperatures make this fungus proliferate so quickly and can result in many problems in the human body.
This yeast occurs naturally in the intestine of the human body. Normally it lives in harmony with a variety of other micro-organisms and actually performs a couple important functions. However, a major problem may occur when something upsets the balance of bacteria in the body and this allows the yeast organism to proliferate and take control of the healthy micro-organisms.
While it normally resides in the intestinal tract, mouth, throat and genitals, however it may burrow holes in the intestinal tract, and even enter the blood stream and then make it's way into any organ of the body and emit over 70 different toxins through the body.
When the candida organism proliferates in the body, it wrecks havoc in many ways and is the initiator of many common maladies, conditions, syndromes and illnesses in our population. Symptoms may be: abdominal gas and bloating, migraines and headaches, fatigue, rectal and skin itch, rashes, inflammation; oral, vaginal and penile thrush, anxiety and depression, cravings for sweets, poor memory and inability to think clearly or concentrate, hyperactivity, mood swings, sinus, persistent cough, earaches, muscle weakness, irritability, sensitivity to fragrances and/or other chemicals, athlete's foot, acid reflux and chronic pain.
One of the most well known forms of yeast is the vaginal yeast infection. However, candida may play a role in just about any mental health condition or other chronic illness you can think of.
Turmeric has an antifungal action for treating candida, inhibiting the candida infection, as well as many other fungal infections. Research at the Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon University, USA, also points to turmeric's curative value in treating colorectal cancers.
Studies have shown that curcumin from turmeric was a more potent anti-fungal than the drug Fluconazole. The curcumin acted by inhibiting the Candida's adhesion. Candida occurs commonly in over 50 percent of the population, but an overgrowth can be triggered by the use of antibiotics, or by sugar consumption. Alcoholic beverages also trigger a Candida "bloom" as can swimming in chlorinated swimming pools. Stress causes Candida to spread because the release of cortisol during stress raises blood sugar that then feeds the yeast. Birth control pills are also attributed with causing yeast overgrowth.
Other herbs that are used to treat Candida include garlic, toothache plant, king of bitters, licorice and cinnamon. Oregano and olive Leaf also kill fungus and yeast. The toothache plant (Spilanthes acmella) besides use for candida has been found to bring relief in cases of lyme disease, gum and mouth diseases and relapsing fevers, like Ross River fever. Next Newsletter I may share more information on Turmeric benefits, and how to use.
We have been enjoying cold herb teas this summer...I just go to the herb garden and pick a mixture of herbs. I am very fond of lemon flavoured herbs, to which I will add gotu kola, nettle, brahmi, alalfa, etc. A little of the herb stevia added, makes them enjoyable to even a beginner who may not be familiar with herbal teas. Sometimes, I add a little fruit juice to dress them up; like mango, or orange, apple, pineapple and coconut.
Some of the characteristics of stevia: it is a plant, every garden can grow to use as a natural sweetener, that lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels, improves urination flow, kills bacteria, viruses and fungi; decreases inflammation, and helps to decrease body weight.
Today, I heard of a lass who is taking her herb robert tea each day as a chilled herb tea, and is noting wonderful benefits to her health.
Interesting information about herbs...
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) The more I study licorice, the more valuable I see this herb is to health. Research indicates licorice inhibits growth of Helicobactor pylori, which is a known bacteria that causes stomach ulcers. Many people had discovered how valuable licorice is to adrenals and immune system support, also for leaky gut, stomach ulcers, nausea, vomiting, constipation, coughs, colds, asthma, kidney and bladder ailments, skin conditions, stress and brain fag, and for building stamina and energy.
Gotu kola has a long history of use, dating back to ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Gotu kola is mentioned in the Shennong Herbal, compiled in China roughly 2,000 years ago, and it has been widely used medicinally since 1700 AD. It has been used to treat leprosy in Mauritius since 1852; to treat wounds and gonorrhea in the Philippines; and to treat fever and respiratory infections in China.
The most popular use of gotu kola in the United States is the treatment of varicose veins. Preliminary evidence suggests short-term efficacy (6-12 months) of the total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA) in the treatment of "chronic venous insufficiency" (a syndrome characterized by lower extremity edema, varicosities, pain, pruritis, atrophic skin changes, and ulcerations, possibly due to venous valvular incompetence or a post-thrombotic syndrome).
Note: Gotu kola is not related to the kola nut (Cola nitida, Cola acuminata). Gotu kola is not a stimulant and does not contain caffeine.
From the mail box, and feed back from people...
Wonderful feed back, when people use Herbs!
The following letter has come from Keira-Lyn Turner on the Sunshine Coast, who is 12 years of age. Keira-Lyn has had considerable trouble with asthma and also food allergies. Her mother, Sherlene phones or emails every 2 weeks to arrange to pick up a box of cut Aloe vera leaves. Recently Sherlene emailed "My daughter has run out of leaves and is finding her breathing is bothering her again. She just doesn't cope well without the aloe leaves.
Dear Isabell, I m writing to tell you how Aloe vera barbadensis has given me relief from asthma. This is how I take aloe vera each day:
1. I pick a leaf and wash it.
2. Cut the bottom end off, which allows the yellow sap to drain, and then wash it again so the yellow sap washes away.
3. Peel all the skin off from around the aloe leaf so that there is no skin left.
4. Eat the aloe vera jelly.
5. Have fun!
When I am really feeling bad, I eat 6 medium sized leaves a day, and it reduces my trouble with breathing in, and takes the trouble breathing out away.
If I have really bad acid reflux burn, aloe takes it away, when nothing else will.
Aloe makes it so that I get over sinus infection more easily, because it takes the inflammation away. Thank you for letting us buy the aloe leaves. I would not be able to cope without it.
I got to know Sherlene many years ago when she would visit the Herb Farm for herbs. Then 12 years ago, Sherlene came to the Herb Farm rather desperate, she was 2 weeks overdue, asking what would I have for her that would induce labour, as she was feeling so uncomfortable.
Well, I told Sherlene, about what mothers, in my era were given, when giving birth, to bring on labour, a good dose of castor oil.
So, Sherlene went to the super-market, bought a bottle of castor oil, had a swig, and went into labour!
An email in, from Mellisa in Brisbane, but with a background of coming from South East Asia...
I am so glad that we can get betel leaf plants from the Herb Farm. This plant is such a valuable herb for cooking and as a natural antibiotic.
Betel Leaf it is very good to tighten up vagina muscles after giving birth, and reducing incidences of cervical cancer. You just need to boil 7 leaves to 1 cup of hot water, let it cool down and drink it once a week.
Your email really cheered me up today, to know where I can now get betel leaf.
Many thanks Mellisa
Hi Isabell, my name is Doris, I live in Boronia, Victoria. I have to tell you about how I love your Book - HOW CAN I USE HERBS IN MY DAILY LIFE. In 2009 I had a knee operation, then, shortly after a fracture in my pelvic region, and then a fracture in my rib. So with the advice from my teacher Herbalist Branko Stanojevic who teaches at the U3A Upwey. I used Comfrey in a poultice regularly and I healed very quickly. This year he is teaching Herbs once a month and the new people are advocates of your great Book . So you see you have made good changes in our lives and we cherish your great knowledge of Herbs. We also view your DVD s which are very enlightening. I am in good health now.
Dear Isabell, I have gone sprout mad! I feel blessed to have come across your wonderful books and spread this knowledge were ever I can. I am writing an article this month in our local paper on sprouting and will use some of your wonderful tips.
In regards to fenugreek, my husband has had a viral infection for the last six month or so, blocked sinuses, his airways were blocked, headaches and a heavy coated tongue. I have made him inhale fenugreek water (seeds simmered for 5 minutes) and after inhaling, have him drink the water 3 times a day and oh wonder, everything has cleared up.
Valerie Gunsch, Healthy Living Country Service, WA
Shirley visited the Herb Farm and shared with me details of a friend who is 92 years. Before Christmas 2009, Glad was diagnosed with breast cancer larger than 20 cent size. She was scheduled to have surgery. Someone left a paper with information about Herb Robert in her letterbox. Glad decided that she would try Herb Robert, and asked to have the surgery cancelled. She started drinking the tea daily, and built up to 4 cups a day. Just last week, she had an appointment with her doctor, and tests showed that the cancer has shrunk considerably, and that the doctor does not want to see her for 5 months. Shirley said, Glad had asked her to tell Isabell her experiences with taking Herb Robert, when she visits the Herb Farm.
Now, Shirley has been using Herb Robert too, as she has cancer of the mouth, and after 2 months of gargling and drinking Herb Robert, is so very much improved, and she will keep drinking the tea and she said with a beautiful smile on her face.
Thank you for your response to my email. I have your herb book and that has had a lot of influence on my thirst to know more about herbs! Thank you for such a wonderful comprehensive publication; it is my favourite present for friends. I had often wondered where to obtain many of the herbs that you cannot buy at the average nursery, so it was very exciting to know you have the plants available.
RECIPES...Creamy basil and mint dip
1 cup of cream (reduced fat), or thick kefir
1 pkt French onion soup mix
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
Combine all ingredients together well in a bowl. Refrigerate until firm.
Serve the dip with a variety of vegetables cut into small sticks.
Mint and yoghurt dip
In a bowl mix together
2 tablespoons mint leaves, finely chopped
1 large cucumber (peeled, de-seeded and chopped finely)
1 ½ cups plain yogurt, or the same quantity of thick kefir can be used
2 garlic cloves finely crushed
2 tablespoons oil
zest from small lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Chill, and serve with wholemeal bread or toast.
Some words to ponder on...the following quips were seen at Eumundi Market, Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
Keep you words soft and sweet
just in case you have to eat them.
If you think today isn't such a great day
try missing one.
Chocolate makes your clothes shrink.
Why didn't Noah swat those 2 mozzies?
Recession is when your neighbour loses his job.
Depression is when you lose yours.
Most of us would rather risk catastrophe than read directions.
Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat and drink beer for a day.
God help me to be the person
my dog thinks I am.
And in signing off...I encourage readers to use herbs daily. Herbs can do wonderful things for our well-being, if we use them regularly. Herbs are so special.
Our health is so precious.
My granddaughter Aleisha has been taking some more photos which we have added to the pictures of herbs and self-sufficiency food plants to our web site.
And do feel free to print out the newsletter, or forward it on the family and friends.
If you would like to get the latest Herb Farm catalogue, please send an email to with 'please email me a catalogue' as the subject.
We will update the catalogue 2 times a year, usually early January and July.
Until next newsletter, Isabell Shipard
For any further informationon herbs and edible plants do have a look at this website, and Isabell's books. You are welcome to contact Isabell Shipard by email
or phone 07 54411101 during Shipards Herb Farm open hours - Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, from 10 am to 2 pm.