Rhodiola, rosemary, saffron and St John’s wort…And those are just a handful of the countless herbs filling up shelves in naturopathic clinics and health food stores. If you want to give herbal remedies a go, but are unsure where to begin, here is the low-down on the potential benefits of 10 popular herbs…
- St John’s wort: This is one of the most scientifically validated herbs for anxiety, demonstrating the ability to help reduce stress through several complex actions. For example, St John’s Wort can help increase the uptake of the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter serotonin.[i],[ii] According to a review of 19 studies with 5489 patients, particular St John’s Wort extracts are more effective than placebo in decreasing anxiety disorders.[iii] St John’s Wort cannot be taken with certain medications, so if you are taking medication speak to your healthcare practitioner about whether this herb is suitable for you.
- Rhodiola: Traditionally used in European, Asian and Russian medicine for encouraging good mood,[iv] rhodiola has shown the potential to improve adaptation to stress, provide nervous system support and inhibit action by the stress hormone cortisol.[v],[vi]
- Saffron: Not just for cooking, saffron in a dose of 30 mg a day has demonstrated the potential to help improve mood and alleviate anxiety sympyoms[vii],[viii],[ix] through multiple mechanisms, one being the enhancement of serotonin.[x],[xi],[xii]
- Mimosa: Also called the ‘happiness herb’ in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), mimosa has traditionally been used as a calming agent and is thought to help reduce irritability, sleeplessness and stress.[xiii]
- Perilla: The action of perilla is due to its rosmarinic acid content, which may help calm the immune and inflammatory response and alleviate allergic rhinoconjunctivitis symptoms, such as an itchy nose and itchy, watery eyes.[xiv] An impressive rhinoconjunctivitis study displayed that 50mg of rosmarinic acid provided symptom relief in 55.6% of patients, while a larger dose of 200mg provided symptom relief in 70%.[xv]
- Rosemary: Apart from packing a punch of flavour to your food, rosemary has additional antioxidant action.[xvi] Antioxidants decrease damage by free radicals, which are hard to escape from today due to the prevalence of environmental toxins like cigarette smoke, pollution and pesticides. And if you are allergy-prone, rosemary may have even more benefit, as it contains anti-allergenic rosmarinic acid.
- Albizia: An Ayuverdic (ancient Indian) herb, albizia may provide allergy relief by preventing early sensitivities to allergens (for example, pollen and dust) and dampening down levels of antibodies (proteins that fight foreign bodies) and certain white blood cells involved in the immune response.[xvii]
- Fenugreek: Used for thousands of years in traditional Asian and Mediterranean cultures, fenugreek may assist normal healthy glucose by slowing carbohydrate absorption and increasing insulin secretion from the pancreas, particularly after eating high carbohydrate food.[xviii]
- Bitter melon: This herb may also give your blood sugar maintenance a helping hand by encouraging insulin secretion from the pancreas for glucose transport and regulating the uptake of glucose by cells for energy use.[xix] [xx] [xxi]
- Cranberry: This tart-tasting fruit may also alleviate cystitis, a bacterial bladder infection common to women that involves symptoms such as frequent, painful urination. Research has shown that 36mg of cranberry daily (in divided doses) is active against the E. coli bacteria in cystitis, decreasing its adhesion to the urinary tract wall. This mechanism is a result of special antioxidant compounds (proanthocyanidins) in cranberry.[xxii]
As you can see, every herb is unique, with each one providing benefits for individual health conditions. And that is the beauty of herbs – there is something for everyone!
Author: By Stephanie Berglin, Herbalist, Nutritionist, DBM, DipNut. Speak to your healthcare practitioner for more information about herbs and your health. For more health articles, go to www.bioceuticals.com.au/education/articles