The Truth about Herb-Drug Interactions: An Honest Evaluation of the Benefits and Risks When Weighing Scientific Data and Clinical Experience

“I have no data yet. It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts.”  ~Sherlock Holmes.

Conventional medicine has long been wary of traditional herbal medicine, particularly when it comes to the potential interactions of herbs and pharmaceutical drugs. However, the focus of conventional medicine always seems to be on the negative interactions of herbs and drugs, when in fact, herb-drug interactions can often be positive.

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The Many Health Benefits of Anthocyanins

When I think of foods that have “super” health-promoting properties, berries are on my list of top ten favorites. Not only are they delicious, but bilberries, black currants, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, elderberries, raspberries, strawberries—in fact, every berry you can think of—offer an enormous range of health benefits. What all of these berries have in common are anthocyanins—the pigments that give them their rich deep red and purple coloring. Although berries are perhaps the best-known sources of anthocyanins, other foods with the same colorants—for example, beets, cherries, eggplant, plums, pomegranates, purple cabbage, purple grapes, and red onions—also contain these valuable compounds. Grape seed extract, an especially rich source of anthocyanins, is the most widely researched anthocyanin supplement. Another excellent anthocyanin source—and one of my favorites—is a blend of fruit anthocyanins, which contains red grape, elderberry, blueberry, aronia berry, pomegranate, and red raspberry.

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Detoxify For Better Health

Many people are concerned about environmental toxins, and I’m often asked, “What’s the best approach to detoxification?” Studies show that everyone has dozens of environmental toxins—pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, and by-products from plastics—stored in their liver and fat cells. Not only do we accumulate toxins through inhaling and ingesting them, our bodies also create toxins as a normal by-product of metabolic functioning. To add to the toxic overload, a lack or imbalance of key nutritional compounds causes cellular malnourishment and dysfunction, infectious organisms produce toxins, and stress initiates allostatic overload, resulting in more toxicity.

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An Ayurvedic Memory Tonic: Bacopa (Bacopa monniera)

Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa (Bacopa monniera) has long been revered in Ayurvedic medicine as a tonic for improving memory—the plant is so highly valued that it’s called “Brahmi,” referring to Brahma, the creator of the universe in the Hindu tradition. Ayurvedic practitioners regard bacopa as a rasayana (restorative adaptogenic tonic), and for thousands of years have prescribed it for relieving debility (particularly mental debility), mental chatter, insomnia, depression, chronic fatigue, as a brain tonic to enhance memory development, learning, and concentration1 and to provide relief from anxiety and epileptic disorders.2 Bacopa is also recommended as a general tonic to slow the aging process. In India and Pakistan, bacopa is prescribed as a cardiac tonic, digestive aid, and to improve respiratory function in cases of bronchoconstriction.3

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The Unique Health Benefits of Siberian Sea Buckthorn Oil

Most people are aware that essential fatty acids are a necessary part of a healthy diet, and are familiar with omega 3’s, omega 6’s, and omega 9’s. But you may not have heard of omega 7’s, also known as palmitoleic acid. This rare fatty acid occurs abundantly in Siberian sea buckthorn berries (Hippophae rhamnoides), and has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic, Chinese, Greek, Russian, and Tibetan medicine. In Tibet, the berries are revered as the “Holy Fruit of the Himalayas.”

Siberian sea buckthorn oil (pressed from the bright orange colored berry and seeds of the plant) has come to the attention of the Western medical community because of its unique fatty acid profile—it’s the only known plant that contains all four essential fatty acids. Studies show that omega-7 fatty acids contribute to healthy skin, hair, and nails; enhance cardiovascular function; boost brain health; and improve gastrointestinal health. Sea buckthorn is also distinctive in that the fruits and seeds contain an extensive array of antioxidant compounds.

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