Many herbal supplements have an impressive array of health benefits. These health benefits may include increased energy, improved immunity, reduced risk of heart disease, improved liver function and reduced joint inflammation to name just a few. The following herbs can be taken on a daily basis, or you can rotate through the list, taking each herb for a few weeks at a time. The doses below are based on capsules containing 850 mg to 90 mg of the herb.
Cayenne is good for the cardiovascular system. The herb also helps maintain muscle tone in the stomach and intestinal walls and aids in digestion. Cayenne is also an excellent “activator herb,” amplifying the benefits of other herbs you take.
Daily dose: Two capsules or use ground cayenne as a spice.
Echinacea fights illness on two levels. First, it boosts levels of white blood cells, B- and T-lymphocytes and phagocyte, the key component of a healthy immune system. Second, it neutralizes invading microorganisms. Researchers have shown that echinacea stops staph, strep, fungal infection and a variety of viruses.
Daily dose: At the onset of symptoms, two capsules. Be sure the capsules contain the whole root in powdered form, not extract. Used intermittently, liquid extract of Echinacea is soothing for sore throats. Use an eyedropper and let a few drops fall against the back of your throat.
This spice helps prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels and blocking formation of fatty deposits the coronary arteries. It also boosts levels of T-cells, a critical component of the immune system. Animal and human studies have shown that garlic also relieves arthritis. It contains sulfur compounds, which are known to have significant anti-inflammatory properties.
Daily dose: Two pills or use a garlic clove in your cooking.
Gingerroot is an excellent remedy for indigestion, constipation, diarrhea and nausea. My research suggests that ginger is even more defective than Dramamine at preventing motion sickness. It is also effective against the flu. Be sure to buy capsules made from the whole gingerroot, not extract.
Daily dose: For mild motion sickness, two capsules 15 minutes before you depart (and two to four more every hour or whenever symptoms return). For serious gastrointestinal upset, take 3 to 6 capsules an hour.
Pau d’arco, also known as lapacho, contains naphthoquinones (N-factors), compounds that have antiviral and antibiotic properties. It is effective at preventing colds, flu and bacterial infections. Taken in capsule or tea form, pau d’arco soothes painful joints, boosts energy levels and stimulants activity of enzymes in the liver, enhancing the ability to remove toxins from the blood. In Brazil, pau d’arco is used to treat leukemia and cervical cancer, a pau d’arco salve is used to treat skin cancer. Studies suggest that the herb may also be effective against breast cancer.
Make tea by simmering the purplish paper-thin inner lining of bark in hot water for 20-minutes, than strain and let cool. Leftover tea can be refrigerated.
Daily dose: To prevent illness, four capsules or two cups of tea, to treat an infection, six capsules or one to two quarts of tea.
One of the world’s most studied plants, milk thistle is very good for the liver. By stimulating protein synthesis, it boosts levels of key liver enzymes, speeding regeneration of damaged liver tissue. It also inhibits lypoxygenase, and enzyme that destroys liver cells. Recent studies show that mil thistle can help reverse the effects of hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Daily dose: Two capsules
Derived from the bark of an Afican tree, pygeum has been shown to prevent and even cure benign enlargement of the prostate. It contains phytosterols, potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Pygeum also contains triterpenoids, compounds that have an anti-swelling effect.
Daily dose: To prevent prostate enlargement, two capsules, to shrink and enlarged prostate, for capsules.
This South American herb boost energy and stamina without causing the jitters that caffeine can cause. Anecdotal reports suggest that yerba mate is also effective against asthma and allergies, though the mechanism is unknown. Yerba mate is best taken as a daily tea, pour boiling water over yerba mate leaves, let sit for 10 minutes, than strain and serve.
Daily dose: Two to four cups.
Caution: Consult your Doctor before taken any herbal supplements, especially if you have a heart ailment or another chronic illness and/or you are using prescription or over-the-counter medications. Herbal remedies can interact dangerously with certain drugs. Example: many herbs are blood thinner, including ginkgo, garlic, ginger, ginseng, white willow bark as well as others. If combined with prescription anticoagulant drugs or aspirin they can cause bleeding or even a stroke. To minimize risk, learn how herbs work or find a certified alternative medicine practitioner.