5 of Our Favorite Herbal Supplements of 2016
Here is our guide to the five supplements we believe should be part of most people’s regimen and why.
Number 1: St. John’s Wort
This herbal supplement comes from a flowering plant from the Hypericum family. It is considered a weed in a lot of countries because it is an invasive plant, growing rapidly and overtaking some other species.
St John’s Wort is a well-known aid for people who struggle with depression. A study in 2015, which had 2 different groups of people, one taking standard anti-depressants and another taking St John’s Wort. The study found that the supplement was as effective as the pharmaceutical anti-depressant. The great news about St John’s Wort is that there are much fewer side effects. A 2016 review of studies also concluded that the supplement was as effective for major depressive disorders and noted that there was not the same potential for a dangerous increase in serotonin in the brain, like with pharmaceuticals.
St John’s Wort should not be taken at the same time as anti-depressants and it can stop contraceptives pills from working. People who suffer with major depressive disorders should always discuss treatment with a doctor. However, it is worth discussing the impact that St John’s Wort could have for you.
Number 2: Black Cohosh
Black Cohosh is one of the best herbal supplements for helping with the effects of the menopause. It is great for reducing the intensity and the quantity of hot flashes. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the herb is great for helping with PMS, infertility, arthritis, rheumatism, migraines and many other conditions.
Cancer Research UK also state that some people feel that Black Cohosh is effective in preventing and treating some forms of breast cancer. There are no medical studies to support the claims but many women do suggest that the herb has helped with cramps and flushes during periods – which is a result of an estrogen surge. Estrogen is one of the leading causes of breast cancer and therefore the logical extension for many people is that if Black Cohosh suppresses this estrogen, then it has preventative abilities against breast cancer.
Cancer treatment for breast cancer can also bring on symptoms of menopause, which can also be relieved with the herb. Talk to your doctor before using this herb and maybe consider using it to supplement other treatments, rather than seeing it as a possible alternative.
Number 3: Yohimbe
Yohimbe is an extract derived from the bark of a tree that grows in West Africa. It is a supplement loved by body builders, as it naturally boosts testosterone. This helps in the growth of lean muscle mass, without any of the nasty side effects of steroid based pharmaceuticals.
It is also known as something of an aphrodisiac and a great way of overcoming organic impotence. This means that it can deal with some of the bio-chemical causes of impotence – as opposed to mechanical causes. It will boost testosterone, which in turn will boost sex drive and the production of semen. It is also thought to help with the dilation of peripheral blood vessels, which means that erectile dysfunction can be treated. Yohimbe will help blood flow freely into the penis and increase the power and potency of the erection.
Traditional herbalists are more likely to prescribe Yohimbe to help with angina and hypertension. The increased blood flow helps to reduce the pressure on the heart and therefore naturally improves its health.
Therefore, in many ways, this is one of the best herbal supplements to have in your bathroom cabinet.
Number 4: Stinging Nettle Root
It is hard to believe that the nettle that causes so much distress can also be so helpful – but it is true – and not just as a tasty ingredient in a soup. The extract contains many chemicals, including histamine, acetylcholine and serotonin, our happy hormone.
Stinging Nettle Root is known as an antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-ulcer and with some pain killing properties. It can be used as a diuretic – so as a means of flushing urinary tract infections out of the body – as can be used to treat painful muscles and joints, help with eczema, gout and anaemia. In some countries, nettle root is an ingredient used to stop excessive bleeding during surgery, particularly dental surgery.
Weirdly, as the nettle contains histamine – which in part is the reason for the allergic reaction – it can also be used to alleviate hay fever, as it prompts the production of antihistamines in the body.
Number 5: Reishi Mushroom
The term superfood is a little overused, to be fair. But for a mushroom that is thought to have cancer fighting properties, we should maybe make a case for superfood status! The mushroom has been revered in Asian cultures for centuries and is one of the oldest symbols of longevity and well-being, so much so it is known as “mushroom of immortality.” You can see why it is needed to make its way onto the list of the best herbal supplements.
The mushroom boosts immunity, which in turn is said to boost the length of life. It is also thought to prevent the development of cancer cells in the body - as it contains ganoderic acid, which inhibits the metastasis of tumors. This same chemical is thought to help in the regeneration of the liver and the dispersal of free radicals – another factor in cancer development.
Scientists are also investigating to see if Reishi mushroom has therapeutic benefits in neurodegenerative conditions such as Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. It is believed that the mushroom helps in the production of nerve growth factor – a protein vital for the health of the brain.
Overall, if you are looking at the list of supplements on the internet or on the shelf in the health store and you don’t know where to turn to – you would be wise to start with these wonder supplements. The thousands of years of anecdotal evidence alone should be enough to convince anyone!