St. John’s Wort: Soothe your worries
You probably know that research has confirmed this herb’s power to relieve mild to moderate depression and anxiety as effectively as many drugs—without a lot of the side effects.
It might also: Help you snooze more soundly. St. John’s wort not only contains melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycles, but it also increases the body’s own melatonin, improving sleep, says a report from the Surgeon General. (These 20 ways to sleep better every night can also help.)
Maximize the benefits: For both mood and sleep problems, author Duke recommends a supplement containing at least 0.3% hypericin (the active phytochemical) per capsule or 300 mg of the extract to be taken three times daily. Warning: St. John’s wort has been shown to interact with several prescription medications, so be sure to check with your doctor before taking it.
Garlic: Lower cancer risk
High consumption of garlic lowered rates of ovarian, colorectal, and other cancers, says a research review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A Japanese clinical trial also found that after a year of taking aged garlic extract supplements, people with a history of colon polyps saw a reduction in the size and number of the precancerous growths detected by their doctors.
It might also: Provide cardiovascular benefits. Garlic contains more than 70 active phytochemicals, including allicin, which many studies have shown decreases high blood pressure by as much as 30 points. Garlic may help prevent strokes as well by slowing arterial blockages, according to a yearlong clinical study at UCLA. In addition, patients’ levels of homocysteine, a chemical that leads to plaque buildup, dropped by 12%.
Maximize the benefits: Crushed fresh garlic offers the best cardiovascular and cancer-fighting benefits, says Duke. But you’ll need to down up to five cloves each day. Try Kyolic aged garlic extract capsules (1,000 mg), the product used in many of the studies.
3 More Superhealers You Should Know About
1. Andrographis: Shorten Summer Colds Andrographis does a great job of relieving upper-respiratory infections, such as colds or sinusitis, says new research. A study in the journal Phytomedicine reported that the herb eased symptoms such as fatigue, sleeplessness, sore throat, and runny nose up to 90%.
Maximize the benefits: Lee and the Graedons recommend Kan Jang (available at ProActive BioProducts), an herbal extract produced by the Swedish Herbal Institute and used in several of the trials.
2. Sea Buckthorn: Reverse vaginal dryness Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) is very effective for hydrating mucous membranes and alleviating vaginal dryness. It contains palmitoleic acid, a fatty acid found in human skin that helps moisturize and heal it.
Maximize the benefits: Lee suggests up to four capsules a day of Supercritical Omega 7, a sea buckthorn supplement by New Chapter. It’s available at health food stores.
3. Kudzu: Curb problem drinking A group of moderately heavy drinkers in their 20s voluntarily cut their beer consumption in half after taking capsules containing the Chinese herb (also called Pueraria lobata) for a week, according to a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Researchers say the kudzu more quickly allows alcohol to get to the part of the brain that tells you that you’ve had enough.
Maximize the benefits: Participants took capsules with 500 mg of kudzu extract three times daily.
3 Rules For The Safest Self-Healing
Natural substances often work like drugs in the body, say Joe and Terry Graedon. They suggest following these precautions.
Rule: Don’t assume it’s safe. Herbs are not regulated by the FDA for safety or efficacy. So search the label for a seal of approval from the USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or CL (Consumer-Lab.com), which indicates it has been approved by certified academic laboratories. For a fee, you can research particular products at ConsumerLab.com.
Rule: Talk with your doctor. It’s best to tell him if you’re considering supplements. Some herbs can interact with certain meds, including those for high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression, as well as blood thinners and even OTC drugs.
Rule: Don’t overdo it. More isn’t necessarily better—and could be dangerous. Always follow dosing instructions.