Herbal supplements are growing in popularity as people seek out safe, natural alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs. Modern research is discovering the active ingredients in many herbs that have been usedmedicinally for hundreds of years. The herbs described below are widely available and recommended for particular health conditions.
Ginko biloba is a tree that grows in mountainous regions of China. Compounds in its leaves work to lower high blood pressure by widening the arteries. Improvedcirculation to the brain enhances concentration, alertness and memory. The herb is also a source of antioxidants which protect cells from damage and help to defend against cancer.
Gotu kola is red-flowered herb that grows in swampy areas. Molecules in the leaves called triterpenes help toreduce swelling and improve circulation. Gotu kola is most commonly taken as a treatment for varicose veins. Itimproves vascular tone and elasticity, reducing the leakage that causes blood vessels to bulge.
Hoodia Gordonii is a succulent resembling a cactus. Found in the Kalahari desert, it was traditionally used by SanBushmen to keep hunger and thirst at bay during lengthy hunting trips. In the West, Hoodia has been hailed as an amazing aid to weight loss. A steroidal glycoside in theplant called P57 suppresses the appetite, allowing people to diet without feeling hungry.
Milk thistle is a plant related to the sunflower. Its seedscontain a compound called silymarin, which is effective for detoxifying the liver. Milk thistle helps to protect the liver from the damaging effects of chemicals and medications, including those used in chemotherapy. It also promotes the regeneration and repair of liver cells.
Saw palmetto is a small palm found in southeastern America. Native Americans used its berries as a remedy for male urinary and reproductive problems. Today, theherb is frequently recommended for men diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia (non-cancerous prostateenlargement). It helps to improve the urinary difficulties associated with BPH.
Valerian is a flowering plant which grows in Europe and Asia. Its root was valued by the ancient Greeks andRomans for its sedative properties. Valerian is still taken by people who suffer from insomnia. Many prefer it toprescription tranquilizers which could become addictive.
Consult a doctor if you intend to begin taking herbal supplements. Although they are produced from naturalsources, they contain medically active ingredients. Certain herbs should not be taken along with common prescription medications. Others are unsuitable for pregnant women or people with chronic conditions.