Echinacea and Astragalus to prevent colds, aged garlic extract to support cardiovascular health and boost immunity…the list of herbs and their benefits goes on and on. Herbal supplements aren’t new, in fact, they’ve been around for thousands of years! Herbal medicine is actually older than western medicine1. Natural health remedies have seen a dramatic growth in popularity over the past decade, and with good reason. Alternative treatments such as herbal supplements can provide helpful and life-changing options for people who are sensitive to certain pharmaceutical medications, who cannot afford certain expensive drug products, or who would simply like to try a natural alternative to traditional medicine.
Herbal medicine involves the use of plants and extracts to deliver effective and safe treatments. Even Western medical practitioners are starting to suggest natural alternative treatments. For example, it used to be that kidney stone patients could only take a pharmaceutical type of medication, or have surgery to remove a painful stone. Now, it has been found that lemon is effective in breaking down stones. Lemons contain citrate, which is a chemical that prevents calcium stones from forming. Citrate can break up small kidney stones, allowing them to pass more easily2.
The aim of herbal medicine is to return the body to a state of natural balance so that it can heal itself. Different types of herbs act on different systems of the body. Here are some herbs that are commonly used in herbal medicine, and their traditional uses.
Echinacea: Echinacea is well known for its ability to turn on the body’s innate immune response and for stimulating the production of antibodies called Immunoglobin M. A review at the University of Connecticut found that Echinacea decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58%3.
There are several types of Echinacea on the market, including Echinacea angustifola, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea, all with immune boosting properties. But the secret to the effectiveness of any of these varieties is to take the herb at the first sign of sniffles.
Aged Garlic Extract: Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) is best known for its cardiovascular benefits. But scientists at the University of Florida have found that this ancient herb also reduces the duration of the common cold or bout with the flu by as much as 61 percent. During their study, 120 cold and flu sufferers also experienced a 21% reduction in the number of symptoms, and 58% fewer missed workdays due to their illness. More importantly, the duration of their cold was cut by an impressive 61%4. According to research, this is because AGE boosts the number of T-cells in the body (T cells are produced by the thymus gland and actively participate in the body’s immune response). To experience these effects next time you have the sniffles, take at least 800 mg divided into two daily doses. Keep in mind that this is not just any garlic. Aged garlic extract has a proprietary growing and production method that enhances and creates immune supporting phytochemicals that are unique to the extract.
Astragalus: Astragalus has gained a reputation as an antiviral and potent immune booster – and for good reason. A staple in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Astragalus plant root is rich in polysaccharides, flavonoids, multiple trace minerals, and amino acids. Numerous studies show that this herb stimulates the immune system by increasing the activity of NK cells (natural killer cells – a type of white blood cell that plays a role in the host-rejection of tumors or virally affected cells), macrophages (large white blood cell), and T-cells5. Taken during cold and flu season, it may help prevent colds and other upper respiratory conditions. The herb also has powerful free radical fighting capabilities.
The next time you feel some sniffles coming on, or would simply like to support your cardiovascular health and immune system naturally, try one of these herbs and see if it makes a difference for you!
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