Herbs are nature’s drugs and should be taken as carefully as pharmaceutical drugs. Advocates of natural healing methods believe that herbal medicine offers important benefits over prescription drugs. Many of our residents at Aston Gardens retirement communities in Florida have discovered the benefits of medicinal herbs. It’s important to note, however, that at least half of all over-the-counter and prescription medications have plant-derived ingredients. Scientists virtually always create new medicines based on discoveries in nature. The obvious difference is that herbs give you a 100% natural product and other drugs are processed in a lab and lose much of their natural goodness.
What About Clinical Trials?
Herbal remedies have been through literally thousands of years of use. Interactions and side effects have been explored and documented. Drugs made in the lab, on the other hand, are required to have a 10-week clinical trial that is commissioned by a pharmaceutical company set to benefit from approval.
Herbs are not, however, regulated by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). It is, therefore, important to consult with your physician before beginning herbal treatments of any kind. Herbs have labels and precautions from the manufacturer, same as prescription drugs; read the fine print.
The common sense conclusion is that herbal remedies can be the perfect choice for mild, long-term complaints. Modern prescription drugs are most recommended for severe illnesses.
What is an Herb?
Any plant that is used for medicine, scent, or flavor – whether the seeds, flower, or leaves – is an herb. You can add herbs with healing powers to your medicine cabinet and to your favorite recipes. There are thousands of healing herbs, many that people frequently use without recognizing health benefits.
Benefits of Specific Herbs
The following are some of the powerful herbs that have proven to be effective at treating conditions often common among seniors.
Blood sugar can be reduced by approximately 10% by taking cinnamon daily in an extract, according to a study on type 2 diabetics. Another study showed that cinnamon also reduces triglycerides by about 23% and cholesterol levels by 13%. Anyone with heart risks can benefit from this everyday herb. Please note that a large amount of the cinnamon spice can be dangerous, which is why it’s important to use water-soluble extract for herbal treatments.
If you are an arthritis sufferer, turmeric may be able to relieve your pain because it contains a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that works in a way similar to Cox-2 inhibitors. Drugs that reduce the Cox-2 enzyme are effective at reducing pain and swelling caused by arthritis. There are other benefits of turmeric, including that it may prevent Alzheimer’s disease and colon cancer.
There are certain plaques that can develop in the brain and that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s, and curcumin (which is in turmeric) clears out the plaques. Clinical trials have shown that curcumin also shrinks colon polyps, if it is taken along with a small dosage of quercetin, an antioxidant found in cabbage, apples, and onions. Doctors savvy to the benefits of herbal remedies recommend cooking with turmeric whenever possible.
If you want to strengthen your immune system, add garlic to your diet. Garlic may stimulate the cells which attack invading organisms. With high consumption of this spicy herb, studies strongly show that rates of colorectal, ovarian, and other cancers are lowered. One study concluded that people with a history of colon polyps experience a reduction in number and size of precancerous growths after a year of taking aged garlic extract supplements. Garlic is also believed to protect against strokes and heart attacks because it helps to lower bad cholesterol.
Leaves of holy basil have been found to relieve headaches, indigestion, and stress. Holy basil extract is widely available in health food stores and is also believed to aid in the treatment of breast cancer.
St. John’s Wort
If you seek relief for anxiety and mild to moderate depression, St. John’s wort is proven to be effective. The herb contains the hormone melatonin, which regulates our sleep-wake cycles, but also increases the body’s level of melatonin, which helps to improve sleep. Take a supplement of St. John’s wort three times daily for sleep and mood problems. Consult with your doctor first, however, before taking any herbal remedies. St. John’s wort is known to interact with several varieties of prescription medications.
More Healing Herbs
As mentioned before, there are many herbs that can be used for medicinal purposes. The following are a few more:
- Peppermint or dill for indigestion
- Chamomile for insomnia
- Lemon balm for headaches and tension
- Rosemary for halitosis (bad breath) and to improve concentration
- Thyme, sage, bay leaves, and rosemary to prevent stomach upset
Just a final reminder regarding herbs. These natural healing agents are not regulated by the FDA. Be sure the labels on your herbal products have a seal of approval from either CL (Consumer-Lab.com) or the USP (United States Pharmacopeia). Talk to your doctor before taking herbal supplements, and don’t overdo on the use of herbs. We hope you’ll join us at Aston Gardens retirement communities in Florida and enjoy the best of health.
Aston Gardens At Sun City Center is here to provide a range of senior living options for those ready to start the next chapter of their lives. Contact us today at 813.642.0860 to learn about our senior living programs, amenities, and floorplans.