Herbal Remedies for Good Health

James A. Duke, Ph.D. shares information on 13 powerhouse herbal remedies for good health. Dr. Duke recommends herbs that can help lower your cholestoral, boost your immune system, detoxify your liver and much more.
By James A. Duke, Ph.D.
April/May 2003
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Evening primrose and herbs.

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Try these 13 herbal remedies for good health to keep the doctor away and ailments at bay.

I agree in spirit with the age-old adage, but in truth it takes more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Throw in some regular exercise, about nine more servings of fruits and vegetables, and some basic herbs or herbal supplements, and now you have a recipe for long-lasting good health.

At age 70-plus and still fit as a fiddle, I rely in large part on the following 13 herbal remedies for good health to keep not only the doctor but also all manner of aches and ailments at bay:

A potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, bilberry can help slow or prevent deterioration of the eyes. It can be eaten fresh or dried, or taken as an extract in liquid or pill form. I usually get mine in standardized capsules, but when blueberries are in season, they work too. I take celery seed daily to help ward off gout and to alleviate arthritis pain. With nearly two dozen anti-inflammatory compounds, it packs quite a punch. Add dried seed to soups, stews or tomato sauces, or take two 450-milligram capsules twice a day, before meals.

I rely on the dynamic duo of echinacea and garlic (the first as a supplement, the latter fresh from the garden or produce market when I'm home, in pills on the road) to protect against colds, flu and cancer. Garlic also gets points for lowering blood pressure and reducing "bad" cholesterol.

I take saw palmetto to protect against the prostate trouble that strikes two of every three men over age 65. German clinical trials have shown it to be as effective as and considerably safer than the leading pharmaceutical alternative. I also take a small dose of evening primrose with saw palmetto to reduce prostatic inflammation.

I turn to thistle, a proven detoxifier, to guard against or slow down deterioration of the liver. Take the dosage recommended for standardized extracts.

I rely on ginkgo in supplement form (standardized extract taken at labeled dosages) to protect and preserve my brain, as well as to stimulate peripheral circulation. (In patients with Alzheimer's, it may even help to slow the progress of the disease.)

When stress gets the upper hand, I lower the boom — and my tension level — with a strained tea of Hawaiian kava or else I take a standardized extract of kava kava as directed. Never undervalue the necessity of relaxing the body: Stress wreaks havoc on the immune system, opening us up to a whole host of health problems.

St. John's wort boosts both the immune system and our moods, particularly during the short days and long nights of winter, when, like millions of Americans, I sometimes suffer the mild blues associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). On those rare days, if I can't get to the tropics, I find sunshine in the standardized St. John's wort pill.

Horse chestnut helps keep painful varicose veins from forming and helps to prevent swelling of my arthritic joints. Although I don't take it daily, I probably should — in standardized extract form as recommended.

Turmeric, the zesty root in curry, works like those expensive miracle aspirins (COX-2 inhibitors) for arthritic and other inflammations, only it's much cheaper and possibly much safer. Use it as a spice for cooking or take capsule-standardized curcumin (the active compound in turmeric) as directed.

Standardized hawthorn extract is my first choice heart guard — and a must for cardiac-disease-prone people — given that heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, claiming lives at the rate of about one a minute.

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