Sometime people think that when you talk about “healing herbs” or “natural supplements” that it’s all about folk medicine and assorted remedies that have little (if any) power to really heal.
If you are reading this, you know that isn’t the case. In fact, traditional mainstream doctors are prescribing natural and herbal supplements more and more, because they have discovered that they work, and don’t have the unwelcome side effects that many commercial pharmaceuticals have.
This is good news for all of us who believe in the power of natural herbal supplements and other natural medicinals and remedies! Take a moment to discover more about these healing supplements, and please do take a moment to share!
AGED GARLIC EXTRACT
Studies have shown benefits from using garlic to help treat heart disease, thanks to its ability to lower blood pressure and reduce the “stickiness” of platelets (lowering the risk of clots).
Doc’s word: Mimi Guarneri, a cardiologist in La Jolla, CA, gives her patients aged garlic extract along with vitamin K2 to help prevent calcification and hardening of the arteries.
Dose: 600 mg twice a day (Check out these 13 ways to lower blood pressure naturally.)
RED YEAST RICE
Made by culturing rice with a strain of yeast, its chemical makeup is similar to statins, though at weaker concentrations.
Doc’s word: “I recommend RYR to people who haven’t had a bypass, stent, or previous heart attack and those who’d rather not take statins for their high cholesterol,” says David Becker, a cardiologist in Philadelphia. “Most people with moderately high cholesterol do benefit from RYR, but for those whose cholesterol is very high—LDL higher than 190 mg/dl—it may not be strong enough.”
Dose: Talk to your doctor about dosing and certainly before stopping a statin.
The current darling of the supplement world is used to treat a variety of ills. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are anti-inflammatory—and inflammation is at the root of arthritis pain. (Just make sure your omega-3s are legitimate. Here’s how to tell.)
Doc’s word: “Though we don’t yet have proof for its use in osteoarthritis, it’s certainly reasonable,” says Roxanne Sukol, a preventive medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic. “We’ve seen the benefits of fish oil for rheumatoid arthritis, a more serious disease with higher levels of inflammatory markers.”
Dose: 4 g a day
Some people do really well on glucosamine/chondroitin, and others don’t, so the benefit looks statistically nonexistent when you average the results, says Allen D. Sawitzke, associate professor at the University of Utah Hospital and Clinics, who recently ran a large study on it.
Doc’s word: “I’m a big glucosamine fan, and I think it helps some people—I’m one of them—who have moderate to severe arthritis pain,” says Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor at the Yale University School of Medicine. “If you’re not feeling less pain after a couple of months, you’re probably one of the people for whom it’s not going to work.”
Dose: 1.5 g a day, either as a single supplement or in three 500 mg doses
This bright yellow curry spice contains a powerfully anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. A recent study pointed to it as a savior from knee osteoarthritis pain, finding it as effective as ibuprofen—with less abdominal discomfort.
Doc’s word: “I have my OA patients make a virgin Bloody Mary with tomato juice, a few drops of olive oil, a dash or two of black pepper, and the contents of 2 capsules of curcumin/turmeric,” Sukol says. The olive oil and black pepper help the body absorb turmeric.
Dose: Two 500 mg capsules a day (or the above Bloody Mary)
A review of studies of 293 people with migraines showed that butterbur reduced the frequency of migraine attacks after people took it for 3 to 4 months. The compound petasin in the plant is thought to be super-anti-inflammatory.
Doc’s word: “I’ve had patients get off their migraine prescriptions after taking butterbur,” says Aaron Michelfelder, professor of family medicine and bioethics at Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine.
Dose: Follow label directions on a butterbur supplement like Petadolex. (Give these 3 other quick headache cures a try.)
This Renaissance man of minerals (a key player in bodily functions ranging from protein synthesis to blood pressure regulation) has been shown to improve sensitivity to insulin and thereby lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
Doc’s word: “My patients with type 2 diabetes often have low magnesium levels,” says Guarneri. She’s found that supplementing it helps lower high blood sugar, reducing their reliance on meds. (How many of these 5 best foods for diabetics are you eating?)
Dose: 200 to 250 mg twice daily, but those with advanced kidney disease should avoid it.
Study after study shows that adding ALA, an antioxidant, to other treatment improves numbness and nerve pain (called neuropathy) for diabetes patients.
Doc’s word: ALA does double duty for patients with diabetes, says Sukol: “In addition to easing neuropathy, it lowers blood sugar and helps with insulin control.”
Dose: Sukol starts people with 300 mg twice a day and may up the dose to 600.
Herbalists call this Indian root an “adaptogen,” which means it has a balancing effect on mind and body—hence its popularity for controlling mood swings or hormonal ups and downs. In two recent studies, ashwagandha reduced anxiety scores; one of those trials also found that the extract lowered subjects’ cortisol levels, which elevate in stressful conditions.
Doc’s word: When Romm’s patients report being stressed, she turns to ashwagandha over Xanax. “It’s excellent for treating the anxiety that results from feeling overwhelmed,” she says. She also recommends it for the patients she describes as “tired and wired”, since it can help you unwind at bedtime.
Dose: 3 to 6 g a day
This herb, which grows in Siberia and the Arctic, is also considered an adaptogen. Several studies point to its ability to lower the stress hormone cortisol and relieve stress-induced fatigue. Other research shows an antidepressant effect, possibly because rhodiola increases the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to precursors of the happy chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
Doc’s word: “I use adaptogenic herbs together with vitamin C and a high-quality B complex to support the adrenal glands during times of stress,” says Melissa Young, an integrative specialist at Cleveland Clinic. “I use rhodiola specifically for patients who are having fatigue and memory issues from stress.”
Dose: 100 to 400 mg a day
Source: Prevention Magazine