Every now and then we like to feature an alphabetical listing of herbs, supplements, and nutrients that make a handy A-to-Z reference, summarizing their respective benefits and uses. Not only is this a practical (and convenient) means to remind followers of what’s out there in the marketplace, in some cases these alphabetized presentations serve as introductions to products that perhaps you hadn’t heard about. In either case, we are confident there is something for everyone on this list. In this first of six segments of our own version of alphabet soup, we go from A to E.
We’ve often been told by health experts ranging from MD’s to parents that we will rarely go wrong with a diet that includes a steady consumption of fruits and vegetables. Take just the fruits, for instance: we know that some are better for us than others, and take heed that acai berries belong at or near the top of that list. These round berries, found mostly in the Amazon region of South America, are packed full of healthy nutrients such as fiber, vitamin A and calcium. While they are relatively high in fat – You do know some fat is good for you? – it also is low in sugar, and that’s a bonus. Acai is an antioxidant (meaning it can neutralize harmful free radicals that can damage cells, thus causing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease), properly regulate cholesterol levels, and maybe even boost brain function as shown in studies with rats.
More and more, scientists and medical experts are pleasantly amazed and inspired to extol the virtues of herbal supplements whose respective use and efficacies date back to ancient times. Black cohosh is one of those gem supplements that has been kind to history, and vice versa. It is a member of the buttercup family and sourced from a flowering perennial plant that, ironically, is known for its white blooms on a stem, and is found in the wooded areas of the eastern US and Canada. Studies have shown black cohosh to be an effective painkiller thanks to its ability to bind to opioid receptors in the human body. Known to also calm the nervous system, black cohosh has shown effectiveness in treating hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms in women.
Mention the word chlorophyll to a fifth grader, and he or she will likely know that it is the pigment responsible for the green coloring that characteries a variety of vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and wheatgrass. But the green ingredient provides more than simple colorization. The actual compound that has health-supporting features is known as chlorophyllin, a water-soluble derivative readily absorbed by your body and found effective in treating skin conditions and body odors. More importantly, it has been linked to benefits such as anti-aging, the reduction of acne, bolstering wound healing, and in treating anemia among other hemoglobin-deficiency disorders.
This is an acronym for a hormone known as dehydroepiandrosterone, which is naturally produced in your body’s adrenal gland. Among DHEA’s functionalities is that it produces other hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, and – like those hormones – DHEA’s levels tend to drop after hitting their peak in early adulthood. So, guess what? Many adults who experience such a drop follow the advice of their health-care providers and turn to using supplements such as DHEA, which comes in various forms. It is regarded as a means to (hopefully) put the brakes on the aging process as well as treat conditions such as depression, osteoporosis, and vaginal dryness (in women).
Vitamin C has long been at the forefront of supplements best known for their ability to boost the immune system and ward off or lessen the effects of viruses such as colds, flu, and, as we now know so well, Covid. The last three years of the Covid pandemic have contributed to making other immune-boosting supplements, such as echinacea, as household names for their capacity to fend off viruses. In fact, echinacea has come to be known as a “super herb” and is also referred to as American coneflower, a member of the daisy family. Not only has echinacea shown some success as an immune enhancer, it has also been associated with pain relief, aiding digestion, healing wounds, and making for healthier skin. But it is not to be used indiscriminately. Be sure to discuss its use with a health-care professional, as should be the case with all the other supplements mentioned in this blog.