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Mother Nature was the world’s pharmacy before we can even cultivate cultures in Petri dishes and combine compounds in test tubes. Healers and shamans from various civilizations knew how to prescribe concoctions made from spices and plants to cure people’s illnesses.
Some of that experience found its way into Western medicine. With modern tools and technologies at our hands, these remedies have been put to the test in laboratories to see what, if any, benefits plants may have for our health. Like the four mentioned below, some have been found to help us feel better by easing our discomfort, calming us down, and just making us feel better.
However, advantages are condition-specific, much as for prescription medications. If you’re thinking about using these in your care, talk to your doctor first.
Alzheimer’s condition and turmeric
For decades, this plant has been a staple in Indian kitchens and medicine cabinets. The spice type is derived from the plant’s roots and adds a rich golden color to dishes. Curcumin, the primary active ingredient of turmeric, is what gives it its health benefits.
Curcumin defends against neurodegeneration in adults without dementia and is one of the most remarkable therapeutic properties. A massive, long-term 2018 study showed that giving patients 90 milligrams of curcumin twice daily for 18 months improved their memory, concentration, and cognitive function.
It’s unclear why turmeric has this favorable impact. Still, experts think it’s because of the plant’s anti-inflammatory effects, which help prevent amyloid plaques from forming between neurons, which causes Alzheimer’s disease. These clumps of misfolded proteins cause nerve cell death, leading to the first signs of dementia.
Curcumin also helps to prevent neurofibrillary tangles, which are another cause of Alzheimer’s disease. These are insoluble twisted fibers consisting more of tau, a protein that usually stabilizes microtubules in neurons and allows nutrients and other beneficial molecules to enter the cell. However, irregular taus cause microtubules to die, stopping the cell from receiving the nutrients it requires and ultimately contributing to death.
Until you start sprinkling turmeric powder on it, keep in mind that it contains a small amount of curcumin—only 3%—and your body isn’t successful at processing it. To get the full benefits of the drug, combine it with pepper, which improves absorption by 2,000 percent. You may also take it as a substitute, including piperine, the active ingredient in pepper.
Cannabis is used to treat illness and suffering.
In much of the United States, this herb is illegal, but with a medicinal license, you can cultivate cannabis and get flowers or herbal drugs obtained from it in some states. Regardless of your personal feelings about it, tests have shown that this contentious herb has several medicinal benefits. However, maybe as a result of the national discourse, it’s possible to get mixed up on which properties are scientifically supported and which are just publicity slogans.
Cannabis is healthy and effective in two situations: reducing nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients and controlling multiple sclerosis manifestations. In 1985, the Food and Drug Administration approved two cannabinoid-based nausea drugs. Meanwhile, patients with multiple sclerosis will use THC-based medications in more than 30 countries to relieve muscle spasms, increase endurance, reduce pain, enhance sleep, and improve the overall quality of life.
Doctors, clinicians, and campaigners have also suggested that cannabis helps cure various other conditions, ranging from debilitating pain to epileptic seizures to Tourette’s syndrome, where THC has been shown to suppress patients’ motor and vocal tics. However, more significant trials are required in any of these cases—some of which are anecdotal—to show beyond a shadow of a doubt that cannabis is responsible for the desired results.
There’s also the issue of dose and form of administration. Cannabis can induce delirium and other psychoactive effects when smoked or inhaled, and it can also be harmful if consumed excessively. On the other hand, Pills and edibles may not be as successful because THC is processed more slowly into the bloodstream.
- For minor depression, St. John’s Wort is helpful.
This yellow-flowered plant was brought to the Americas, Africa, and Australia from Europe and Asia, where it was used to heal knights’ wounds during the Eastern Crusades. It has long been a part of folk medicine.
The herb is now mainly used as an injection or tincture to relieve minor depression in the short term. Hypericin and hyperforin, which are abundant in St. John’s wort, have proved to be effective mood stabilizers. Patients with depression have metabolic imbalances related to amine neurotransmitters, and St. John’s wort has been shown to block enzymes that degrade them in rats. On the other side, hyperforin prevents feel-good receptors like dopamine and serotonin from being reabsorbed, causing these neurotransmitters to bind to different receptors, resulting in a stronger body reaction and alleviating depressive symptoms.
The fact that patients mention feeling better after taking St. John’s wort, researchers are still baffled as to why. Furthermore, the study has shown that the plant communicates with other medications, causing some enzymes in the stomach to be activated, allowing drugs to escape the body more quickly. This is why, since antidepressants can interfere with the effect of St. John’s wort, they should only be administered by a psychiatrist and used only by patients with minor depression.
Hawthorn berries help to keep blood flow in check.
You can make jam or even wine if you gather enough of these famous red fruits that grow on trees and shrubs in the Northern Hemisphere’s colder regions. But the hawthorn berry is more than that; it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat heart disease and high blood pressure for decades because of its many benefits. Hawthorn berry extract reduces the risk of arrhythmia and facilitates blood vessel relaxation, which results in improved circulation.
Hawthorn berries have been shown to increase heart function, shortness of breath, and nausea in patients with the severe cardiac disease when taken with traditional heart medicine. However, the evidence isn’t definitive since a similar number of trials have shown the slight advantage of patients taking the fruit as a supplement to conventional medications or as a stand-alone treatment. Other benefits, such as lower blood pressure and a drop in lipids, have been studied in mice, but further study in humans is needed.
The good news is that hawthorn berries are simple to ingest (you can eat them dried, raw, in tea, or as a supplement), and they’re generally considered nutritious. As a result, incorporating them into your diet is effortless.