There are thousands of herbal supplements on the market today. Mother Nature has provided a bountiful medicine cabinet. For several decades, these natural medicines were considered by many to be less valuable than synthetic drugs. In recent years, people have returned to Mother’s medicines, partly because so many drugs are known to do more harm than good.
Even the scientific community has gone “back to nature” to find safer and sometimes more effective remedies for the ills that plague modern society. While many beneficial herbs have been identified over the years, these are 5 that you simply cannot do without according to the latest research.
Cinnamon More Than Just a Spice
Cinnamon was a highly-prized spice thousands of years ago. Today, we think of it mostly as a flavoring, but like many other spices, this one has therapeutic and preventative medicinal value.
There are many varieties of cinnamon, including one that is usually referred to as “cassia”. All of the different varieties have been used in studies to identify the “active” component. The molecular components include eugenol, catechins, proanthocyanidins and cinnamaldehyde. It appears that the health benefits of natural cinnamon are due to all of these different components, rather than a single one.
Adding cinnamon to your daily diet or taking a supplement that contains it could reduce your risk of colon cancer, according to studies conducted using cinnamaldehyde. Other researchers believe this benefit is due to the antioxidant activity of catechins and proanthocyanidins. Antioxidants prevent and repair free radical damage that plays a role in all forms of cancer, as well as age-related heart diseases and aging in general.
Cinnamon and cinnamon extracts have proven to be helpful in several studies for maintaining normal blood sugar levels. This benefit could help regulate appetite, mood, energy levels and other factors associated with spikes and dips in blood sugar levels. The effect could also reduce your risk of type II diabetes, a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in industrialized nations according to the World Health Organization.
Another substance isolated from cinnamon named CEppt has been shown to prevent the development of Alzheimer’s disease and has also worked as a treatment for the disease in animal models. While we cannot say whether or not the same benefit would be seen in humans, there is no reason not to try cinnamon as a disease preventative.
Cinnamon, cassia and cinnamon extracts are completely safe, which is more than you can say about any of our modern drugs. When it comes to Alzheimer’s, there are no effective drug treatments and no known preventatives. Cinnamon could be the answer.
Over the centuries, cinnamon has been used:
• To speed the healing of wounds – modern research indicates that some component or components of cinnamon have anti-microbial activity
• To relieve symptoms of colds and flus or to reduce the duration of the infection – anti-viral activity has been seen in scientific studies
• As a pain reliever, for headaches, muscle aches and joint pain
• For digestive complaints, including diarrhea
Although that may seem like too many benefits from one single plant, it is not that unusual. Many herbs and spices have similar benefits.
Fenugreek Seeds Have Powerful Compounds Within
Practically all parts of the fenugreek plants are used as foodstuff. It is the seeds that have medicinal properties.
The anti-inflammatory (pain relieving, fever reducing) properties have been recognized since ancient times. One of the big problems in modern societies is silent inflammation. It is not accompanied by pain, fever or other symptoms, which means most people don’t receive treatment for it.
Chronic silent inflammation plays a role in heart disease and cancer, two of our biggest killers. Like free radical damage, inflammation also plays a role in aging.
Research has shown that anti-inflammatory drugs have no effect on this type of inflammation. The researchers’ recommendation has been for people to include more natural anti-inflammatories in their daily diets. They have seen that natural anti-inflammatories are effective against silent inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory activity is not the only benefit of fenugreek seeds. The seeds are also digestive aids. They help improve metabolism, which is beneficial for weight loss efforts, and studies suggest they may also improve libido.
Like cinnamon, fenugreek helps to balance blood glucose levels, which makes it an anti-diabetes compound. Several “active” compounds have been isolated from the seeds. Individually, they have been shown to lower blood sugar levels, reduce insulin resistance and increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the cells of the body fail to recognize and respond to insulin appropriately, causing blood sugar levels to remain abnormally high. Insulin resistance is a major cause of type II diabetes.
Fenugreek seeds are used in a variety of cuisines because of their distinctive flavor. However, most dishes would contain just a small amount of the flavoring. To get the health benefits, you would want to take a supplement containing fenugreek extract.
Turmeric Is a Multi-Benefit Herbal Extract
Turmeric is another well-known spice that has been used historically to treat a variety of ailments. In traditional Ayurvedic Medicine, which is still practiced in India today, it is used for skin conditions, heart problems, digestive complaints, liver disorders, painful conditions, allergies and wound treatment. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used primarily as an antiseptic for skin injuries, but is also sometimes used to treat infections.
Modern researchers have been able to identify the active compound in turmeric. The compound is an antioxidant called Curcumin. Curcumin can be found in single-ingredient herbal supplements and in combination multi-ingredient health supplements.
Dozens of studies have been conducted concerning the health benefits of Curcumin. The health-giving properties that have been identified include:
• Antioxidant activity
• Anti-inflammatory activity
• Anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activity
• Anti-diabetic activity
• Anti-tumor potential
These properties indicate that taking an herbal remedy containing Curcumin on a regular basis may reduce your risk of cancer, type II diabetes, heart disease and infectious diseases.
Gingko Biloba For Enhanced Brain Power and More
Gingko biloba has been recognized for years as a “brain stimulant”. The benefits to the brain are typically attributed to improved circulation, although new research indicates that something else is going on.
The neurons and synapses in the brain seem to require protection in order to function optimally. When they function optimally, short and long-term memory, memory storage, memory recall and learning ability improve. Specific antioxidants are needed to provide that protection, according to the latest info. Gingko biloba contains the necessary antioxidants.
The antioxidants in gingko biloba are unique. They are not found in other plants or botanicals. Scientists have not yet tried to duplicate them synthetically, as there has been no market for this synthetic compound. It isn’t likely that people would start taking a synthetic version anyway, since the natural extracts are readily available and affordable.
Many people believe that taking gingko biloba reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and age-related dementia. As yet, there is no clear scientific evidence to support this belief. People who take the supplement recognize that they think more clearly, their memory is better and they perform better on tests.
No health risks are associated with the use of the supplement. So, there’s no reason not to give it a try. To see the best results in terms of keeping your mind sharp and active as you age, you should combine supplementation with challenging brain activities, such as working puzzles or playing chess, social activities, such as spending time with friends, and physical activity. Those three things have been identified as factors that definitely reduce the risk of age-related memory loss and dementia.
Blueberries Pack a Nutritional Punch
Blueberries are so healthy they are sometimes called “super-foods”. In recent years, single-ingredient blueberry supplements have appeared on the market, as well as supplements containing a combination of berry extracts.
The benefits of different berries are due primarily to the different antioxidants they contain. Blueberries, in particular, are a source of proanthocyanidins and anthocyanins. Both have potent antioxidant activity.
The health benefits of blueberries include:
• Lower blood pressure – hypertension or high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke
• Reduced risk of arterial plaques – Plaque in the arteries is a major factor in age-related heart diseases. The plaques form when fats (lipids) in the bloodstream become hardened or “oxidized”. Blueberries have been shown to reduce lipid oxidation.
• Reduced risk of diabetes – improve insulin resistance, stabilize blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on metabolic syndrome that often accompanies diabetes
• Reduce risk of diabetes-associated complications – diabetic neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, heart disease, etc.
A growing number of experts believe that healthy aging and avoidance of the so-called age-related diseases are possible through good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. Combining healthy lifestyle and good nutrition with the 5 herbal supplements you have read about here could help you live a longer healthier life. That’s why you simply can’t do without them.