Unmatched Herbal Supplements-Top 5
Herbal supplements have gained momentum over the past few decades in the United States and abroad. Partly due to skyrocketing medical and prescription costs and largely due to spreading knowledge about the unmatched effectiveness of many herbs, plants and natural remedies. There are however, many misconceptions about herbal remedies and what use they play. Seeing as there are countless herbs and plants that have been used for thousands of years, it can be puzzling to someone looking for a reliable alternative or supplement to their existing regiment. Here I will show you my top five herbal supplements that I both use and have received significant benefit from. These herbs help bring relief from such afflictions as depression, lethargy, weak immune system, stress and insomnia with little to no noticeable side effects.
5-HTP or 5-Hydroxytryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid found in the body. 5-HTP is metabolized from Tryptophan. Remember all the hype about getting sleepy from eating turkey? Tryptophan is found in many meats as well as other various foods. Tryptophan becomes 5-HTP. 5-HTP becomes Serotonin and Serotonin becomes Melatonin as the body sees fit. The piece of this puzzle we are interested in is Serotonin. Serotonin is used in two primary places; in the intestines and in the brain. Many cases of depression are often linked back to low levels of serotonin. In fact, prescription anti-depressants work to raise the levels of serotonin as well but through a different mechanism. The end result is the same. So why is 5-HTP considered an herbal supplement? The pill form you can purchase at your local store is derived directly from the Griffonia simplicifolia plant that is found in Africa. I would suggest starting out at 50mg taken in the morning. Try this dose for two weeks. If there is no noticeable benefit, increase to 100mg. Although various sources indicate that even 200mg a day is safe, I would not suggest you go beyond 100mg. If there is no benefit at 100mg after two weeks of use, you likely do not have any issues with low levels of serotonin. Remember, there is no need to take anything you don’t need to. 5-HTP will likely not bring any undesirable side effects as long as it is used properly. This means, more is not necessarily better. Do not take it within 6-8 hours of any alcoholic beverage as the combination of the two have a synergistic effect which can create too much serotonin in your brain. This can be dangerous to your health and has no benefit whatsoever. Do not take with other anti-depressants. I know this probably sounds like the end of a drug commercial but I don’t want to give the false impression that herbs are completely harmless in all circumstances. Taken properly, 5-HTP is very safe.
2. Holy Basil
Holy basil, not to be confused with regular basil you season your food with, has some very desirable benefits for most people. It has been used medicinally in India for thousands of years. One of the most amazing uses for holy basil is that it helps reduce cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is produced by the body in times of stress and has very negative effects on the body. Just to be clear, holy basil will not prevent you from becoming stressed. It will help you cope with stress more effectively. Additionally, holy basil is a powerful antioxidant which helps prevent free radical damage in the body. If this is not enough, studies have shown that it helps balance blood sugar levels in the body and reduce cholesterol. Holy basil is a perfect example of a plant with many healing effects that I feel confident taking every day in my daily routine.
Ginseng, like holy basil is also an adaptogen or a supplement that will aid you in coping with stress and works as an antioxidant. Ginseng is commonly added to energy drinks and teas as it is thought to increase blood flow in the body and brain assisting with brain function, memory and alertness. I will say that I had tried Ginseng before knowing any of its properties and it had a very powerful ability to combat feelings of tiredness. Taking ginseng by consuming an energy drink is not necessary as you ultimately end up consuming too much caffeine. Ginseng is sold in pill form and Korean Ginseng is known to be superior in quality and potency. Go ahead and give ginseng a try and see how it works for you!
Valerian is another plant native to parts of Asia and Europe. Valerian has the unique ability to act as a mild sedative. The properties of Valerian allow it to assist with insomnia or occasional sleeplessness. Additionally, low doses of valerian have a mild soothing effect which can be used to assist with anxiety during the day. Valerian has shown to be very safe and does not cause dependency or a tolerance when taken frequently. If you have used over the counter sleep aids, do not expect a similar result. Valerian will help you fall asleep naturally without feeling “drugged”. It’s subtle nature will not leave you feeling groggy the next day and it does not interact with other drugs or supplements to my knowledge. I use Valerian on occasion when my mind is having difficulty winding down for the night. Its effects seem to take up to an hour before they are noticed so plan ahead.
Echinacea is a plant native to North America. Like other plants listed here it has been used for many generations before you or I was ever born. Echinacea’s benefits are very straightforward. Echinacea helps to stimulate your immune system. I can personally attest that at times when I felt as though a cold had been coming on, using echinacea has brought me significant relief from cold symptoms as compared to times when I did nothing. Taken every few hours when signs of a compromised immune system begin to present, you may find it very helpful. However, echinacea is not a substitute for treating your body well. It will likely not reverse getting sick as a result of abusing your body by malnutrition or alcohol abuse. Other immune boosting supplements that I recommended taking along with echinacea include zinc supplements, garlic, and vitamin C.
You may find all five of these supplements to be very useful for you just as I have. Whatever you choose to do, remember that both these herbs and your body are to be treated with respect. Take the time to make positive changes in your life and these herbs will give you the boost you need. My advice is not intended to be in place of a medical doctor. Some herbs have very real interactions. If you have any concerns, do yourself a favor and double check the safety of what you are about to take.