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Feel good again: Herbal supplements for PMS

Are you seeking a way out of severe PMS symptoms? If your daily dose of evening primrose oil doesn’t seem to be enough for you, you can also find relief in herbal supplements. Many believers of these herbs are strong advocates of their efficacy but it’s important to note that natural remedies such as those mentioned in this article will take some time to be effective — at least six months. What these herbs seek to do is to normalize and rebalance your body.

Chaste berry (Vitex agnus-castus).As a hormonal balancer, this herb regulates the production of hormones in your body.

Pasque flower (Anemone pulsatilla). Highly toxic as a flower, it is only used as a treatment in its dried form which soothes abdominal pain.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is known for its wound-healing properties and it also reduces heavy bleeding during menstruation.

Sage (Salvia officinalis), red clover (Trifolium pratense), blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) and black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) enhances the body’s natural supply as they are they contain chemical precursors of oestrogen. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) also performs the same function but it curiously does not have any ostrogen precursor properties.

Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) encourages the production of progesterone and is the only known herb that can do so. This Mexican plant was initially used in the manufacture of contraceptive pills. The advantage of wild yam is that it doesn’t raise sebum levels.

Red raspberry (Rubus ideaus) is a gentle herb that normalizes blood flow and reduces painful menstrual cramps.

Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) and burdock (Arctium lappa) are tonics that help improve liver function, which in turn, aid in eliminating unwanted hormones from the body.

Citrus supplement to help diabetes

At the recent Experimental Biology Annual Meeting, an all-natural dietary supplement, called Diabetinol™, may help type 2 diabetics to lower their blood sugar and LDL-cholesterol levels.

Almost 21 million Americans suffer from diabetes and Diabetinol™ could mean less health complications like kidney disease and nerve pain. Overall, this could lead to lower disability and medical expenses, and less worry for sufferers.

The study suggested that if diabetes type 2 patients consumed Diabetinol™ over a longer period of time, it could significantly increase glucose tolerance or blood glucose numbers after having a meal. It also demonstrated that the hemoglobin AIC levels of the study subjects were lowered.

Hemoglobin AIC is a measurement of average blood glucose control over two to three months and is connected to one’s risk of developing diabetic-related illnesses like eye, kidney and nerve diseases.

In this research, Diabetinol™ increased glucose tolerance by 19 per cent, as compared to that of a standard type 2 diabetic drug.

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Vitamin D lowers risk of diabetes

Ginkgo biloba and ginseng have no bad side effects with drugs

More awareness has been raised recently about the lack of research about the drug interactions with dietary supplements and its possible harmful consequences. There’s a general blanket belief that herbal and natural supplements can do no wrong, simple because, they are not chemical.

Valid points were made but there shouldn’t be a paranoid fear of supplements. As consumers, we should pay more attention and do more research before we pop dozens of pills.

There is some good news — popular herbal supplements ginkgo biloba and ginseng do not have negative side effects if taken with other pharmaceutical drugs.

A 2007 study found that consuming ginseng and ginkgo supplements daily at recommended doses, separately and together, will not change the way most pharmaceutical drugs behave in the body.

What sparked off more queries in this area was the recent finding that St. John’s wort could dramatically change the absorption and metabolism of many prescription drugs on the market. Supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health, the same research group for the ginkgo and ginseng results is still conducting studies on drug interactions with St. John’s wort.

3 Natural anti-depressants to try before hitting a shrink’s couch

With over 19 million Americans suffering from depression, you can imagine how many people use prescriptive drugs to lift their moods. The downside of these drugs is their side effects: nausea, vomiting, nervousness, insomnia, sexual dysfunction and headaches.

If you think you have mild depression and are reluctant to see a psychiatrist, you could try natural anti-depressants that don’t require a physician’s prescription. If you’re taking other medication, do consult your pharmacist or a qualified herbalist for possible negative drug interactions.

Pronounced as “Sammy”, this natural anti-depressant is quite the recent superstar in the supplements circle. SAMe is actually S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine, which occurs in the body naturally. This natural remedy is often marketed as a mood brightener, while it is good for easing arthritic pain and liver problems.

A Harvard study proved that SAMe, when taken with anti-depressant drugs like Zoloft or Effexor, there was a 40 – 50 per cent improvement in patients who were depressed. Further research needs to be done as this study did not include a placebo group.

SAMe is derived from methionine that is an amino acid which is involved in many crucial biological processes. SAMe has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. On top of that, it even aids the production of brain chemicals like neurotransmitters.

B vitamins apparently increase the effectiveness of SAMe. The daily recommended dosage is 400 mg and a month’s supply can be anywhere between $18 to $50.

St. John’s wort
St. John’s wort (hypericum perforatum) is a well-known and widely researched herb. Many people in America and Europe turn to this natural remedy for mild to moderate depression. When compared with tricyclic anti-depressants (such as Tofranil and Tryptanol) St. John’s wort has been proven to be just as effective with fewer side effects. This seems to be the same with another popular class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) including Prozac and Paxil.

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is also a naturally occurring compound in the body like SAMe. It comes from the amino acid tryptophan. In the U.S., 5HTP has become fairly popular for its seratonin-boosting abilities. Aside from depression, this supplement is used to treat anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia (a chronic condition that involves widespread pain in muscles, ligaments and tendons and has fatigue as a typical symptom), migraine and weight loss.

Can you get bigger breasts with supplements?

PhotobucketIn a UK newspaper today, there was a detailed article on how to increase your cup size without surgery. One of the suggestions was a herbal supplement called “Perfect C” which consists of “botanicals with natural estrogenic properties to increase estrogen levels in the body”. Since it’s a herbal concoction, the brand claims that there are no immediate harmful side effects.

Let’s list other herbs that are touted to increase womanly curves: dong quai, saw palmetto, Thai herb pueraria mirifica, wild yam extract, black cohosh, Siberian ginseng root, astragalus root, echinacea whole plant. As we all know, such supplements tend to be rather hazy in their results — some swear by it and some don’t see their cup size going anywhere but south.

How do breast enhancement pills work? They usually contain phyto-estrogens (phyto means plant) that are chemicals found in plant foods and behave similarly to the female sex hormone, estrogen. This tricks the body into thinking that it is in a state of pregnancy, which stimulates the production or estrogen and then your breasts will enlarge.

Medical professionals would definitely say creams and supplements won’t help in increasing breast size and the only way is cosmetic surgery.

Why do some women still buy into breast enhancement products? Any advertisement that reads, “Increase your bust size by three cups in just 90 days,” should draw skepticism from even the most gullible of consumers, we would think. Perhaps they need psychological reassurance that they are doing something about a body part they are unhappy with, even if they don’t see real results.

Such debate aside, the most important question is, are such herbal supplements safe? Scientific research has been done on the individual herbs usually used but there are no published studies on the effects of combining all of these herbs though there are murmurs in the media that there could be some on-going research focusing on this area.

It’s confirmed, cod liver oil relieves arthritis

PhotobucketWe’ve got yet another great piece of news about joint health: cod liver oil. For a long time, supplement junkies have known that this stuff is good for brain development, increasing energy levels, lowering depression, and promoting heart health.

But now the focus is on its use for easing arthritic pain. Dietary supplement companies have been promoting this Omega-3 essential fatty acid-rich supplement for the past few years to seniors, but to have some scientific basis to this claim reinforces how valuable it is.

A recent study has confirmed that cod liver oil can reduce arthritic anti-inflammatory drug intake by 30 per cent in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Anti-inflammatory drugs that are traditionally used to treat arthritis may take away the pain, but with long term use, there are always side effects, like high blood pressure and an increased risk in suffering from a heart attack, to contend with.

These risks have led doctors to prescribe with caution and would only let patients use these drugs for short periods of time. However, the constant pain forces patients to keep taking such pills.

This promising new evidence gives hope to sufferers who can balance out their prescriptive medication with natural pain management.

Mineral supplements ease joint pain

PhotobucketGlucosamine has become a common alternative to those suffering from degenerative joint disease, Osteoarthritis (OA), but is the subject of serious debate whether it truly works or not.

OA is a slow, destructive joint disease, that affects millions of people all over the world. The exact cause of the condition is unknown but the degeneration starts when the joints face unusually high stress and then the secondary inflammation sets in with continued pressure on the area.

Recent findings have shown that perhaps yet another pain reliever could come in the shape of seaweed.

Using rats in test trials, a study showed that a lack of magnesium in their diets reflected an increased amount of cartilage damage. By upping the levels of magnesium, the inflammation is reduced. Other trace elements like copper, zinc, selenium, boron and manganese also aid in diminishing the symptoms of OA.

This research was designed to see if seaweed-derived multi-mineral supplement, Aquamin, could alleviate OA symptoms. Aquamin comes from a red algae that is rich in calcium, magnesium and a variety of other trace minerals.

Read more…

Zinc deficiency could cause acne

PhotobucketYou’ve tried every fancy acne product your friends recommended and even changed your diet to be a more healthful one, but you’re plagued with a stubborn outbreak of acne that just won’t go away. Perhaps you’re consuming something you shouldn’t or missing something from your diet, you may wonder.

According to some researchers, acne may be caused by a lack in zinc. Other signs of this mineral defiency are dry hair, white spots on fingernails, slow healing of wounds and a decreased sense of taste and smell. Zinc plays an essential role in our immunity system. Continue reading →

Yak cheese better for your heart

Ever since we discovered the secret to longevity could be donkey’s milk, the hunt has been on for healthier alternatives to cow’s milk. The latest buzzwords in the food industry are yak cheese.

A new research study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that yak’s milk contains more polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than Canadian cheddar cheese manufactured from cow’s milk.

PhotobucketThe higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids found in yak’s cheese means that it could be possibly be categorized as a healthy food in human diets, according to the researchers from the University of Guelph (Canada), the Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources in Kathmandu, and Kantipur City College in Kathmandu. Continue reading →

Women who drink tea may have healthier arteries

PhotobucketWe just get more good news about anti-oxidant rich beverage, tea. A recent French study has shown that drinking tea could help to reduce the risk of heart disease.

Published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, the research discovered that tea drinking women had lower levels of plaque in their arteries, which means they have a reduced risk of suffering from heart disease and stroke.

Artery plaque consists of fat, calcium, cholesterol and other substances found in blood. When plaque builds up in the arteries, it is called atherosclerosis. Continue reading →