Sometimes, we just need a little help. A little something that will help keep us healthy and feeling our best. But as more and more people are becoming aware of the dangers of certain health products, many of them are turning to natural supplements and remedies.
“Research finds that many people – in several cases a firm majority – remain positive about the effectiveness of alternative medicines. Most people (51%) also believe that herbal medicine could be effective.”1
Let’s take a look at some of the top natural supplements that actually work well.
Ginkgo biloba is often praised for its work as a natural memory booster. It is also shown that ginkgo biloba can help reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly relieve inflammation and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.2
One word of caution: Gingko may increase the risk of bleeding, so anyone taking blood thinners should stay away from this supplement. Other than that, some cases have been reported of upset stomach and headaches, but these are rare and generally mild.
Often used as a seasoning in South Asian, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern food, fenugreek is also used as a natural supplement for diabetes and prediabetes. It is often used by nursing mothers to increase breast milk production. Fenugreek has also been said to help with everything from appetite loss to PMS and menopause. Current research, however, only supports its ability to help with blood glucose, making it a good supplement for diabetes.3
“Most people believe that herbal medicine could be effective.”
Since this supplement is often used by nursing mothers, is generally thought to be a safe natural alternative to other medications. Fenugreek has been used for years to induce childbirth, so it should be avoided by pregnant women.
Peppermint is often used to soothe a sore throat or help an upset stomach. Because of this, it is a supplement that is often used for heartburn and IBS as well. It can be found in pill form, drops, or teas. Peppermint essential oil can also be used externally, and has been said to help with other ailments such as headaches, sunburn, itching, allergy relief, and muscle pain.
Peppermint is generally considered safe for most people. Be careful when using essential oils; they can be very strong. Dilute them with a carrier oil such as coconut oil, sunflower oil, or jojoba oil.
Echinacea is often used for preventing or shortening the common cold. It is said that taking echinacea can help boost your immune system and many people turn to it at the start of the cold season.4 It can be used in various ways too. Besides taking it in pill form, you can use it in throat spray or drink it in tea form.
Echinacea is safe; however, those with autoimmune disorders should avoid it. Since echinacea is an immune stimulating herb, while it could help some autoimmune disorders, it could possibly worsen others. If you’re set on taking it and have a confirmed or suspected autoimmune disorder, please check with your doctor before doing so.
Melatonin has long been used to help with sleep problems. But did you know that melatonin is actually a natural hormone? It is a hormone found in your brain that tells your body it is time to sleep, but some people may need a little extra melatonin to get a good night’s sleep. It is great for anybody facing chronic insomnia or having a hard time falling asleep. It can also be used when you know you will have a big change in your sleep schedule. Taking the supplement can help you get back to your normal sleep pattern faster.
Melatonin is safe, however you should take care not to overuse it. Abusing melatonin could possibly mess with your own natural sleep patterns, making you more and more dependent on the supplement. And since it is a sleep aid, it should not be taken when you need to drive or operate heavy machinery.
Ginger is most commonly used for stomach problems such as motion sickness, gas, diarrhoea, morning sickness, and just general nausea. It is anti-inflammatory and can reduce the inflammation that causes stomach issues.5 It can also stimulate blood circulation and help with digestion.6 Ginger can be eaten fresh, turned into a tea, or taken in pill form.
If you are taking blood-thinning medication such as aspirin, stay away from ginger unless under the watchful eye of your doctor.
Not only is green tea full of antioxidants, it can also boost your metabolism and help you lose weight.7 In addition, the caffeine content found in green tea also helps suppress the appetite.
We’re not seeing anything wrong with drinking green tea – for the weight loss benefits, the caffeine boost, or for its antioxidants.
If you need a little help in the health area, turning to natural supplements over medication could be a good idea. But just because something is natural, doesn’t mean you should overdo it. Make sure you check with your doctor before taking any supplements, natural or otherwise, to see if they’re right for you and if they may interfere with any prescription medications you take.
Do you take any natural supplements? What are your go-to remedies? Why not leave a comment below with your thoughts.
- (Anonymous). (2015). Many Believe Alternative Medicines are Effective. In YouGov UK. Retrieved from https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/03/06/many-believe-alternative-medicine-effective/
- (Anonymous). (2015). Gingko Biloba. In University of Maryland Medical Center. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/ginkgo-biloba
- Goldman, R. (2014). Diabetes: Can Fenugreek Lower My Blood Sugar? In Healthline. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/fenugreek-blood-sugar#2
- Block, K.I. and Mead, M.N. (2003). Immune System Effects of Echinacea, Ginseng, and Astragalus: A Review. In Integrative Cancer Therapies, 2(3), 247–267. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15035888
- (Anonymous). (n.d.). Ginger. In WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-961-ginger.aspx?activeingredientid=961
- Rob Ralph. (2012). Ginger Root – For Circulation and Digestion. In Alternative Healthzine. Retrieved from http://alternative-healthzine.com/ginger-root-great-for-circulation-digestion/
- (Anonymous). (1999). Green Tea Boosts Metabolism, Protects Against Diseases. In WebMD. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/diet/19991128/green-tea-boosts-metabolism-protects-against-diseases