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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 20 2016

8 Ayurvedic Herbs That Actually Work

By Mark Sisson
89 Comments

8 Aryuvedic Herbs That Actually Work FinalWith so many time-tested treatment modalities out there, some which are thousands of years old, people are pretty curious as to whether some of the natural tips and recommendations penned in ancient literature are still effective today. Conventional medical wisdom assumes all that ancient medicine is just nonsense and superstition, that until a hundred years ago every health practitioner and patient lived under a massive collective delusion. If they got anything right it was through dumb luck, and today’s pharmaceutical companies have long since mined it for useful drugs and therapies. Could they all be useless? Whereas some older treatments have gone the way of the dodo in light of scientific scrutiny, many endure. In today’s post, I’ll subject the ancient world of Ayurvedic herbs to that same scientific scrutiny.

First transmitted through oral traditions and later through writings, Ayurveda dates back to at least 5000 BCE. That’s one long placebo effect. Let’s what the human studies have to say about some of these herbs.

1. Turmeric

Everyone and their vegan mother loves turmeric and knows how good it’s supposed to be for you. They may not be able to tell you what it actually does, but they know it’s good. Ayurveda knows, though. They’ve known for thousands of years that it’s anti-inflammatory enough to sometimes replace pain meds. It can reduce depression symptoms, even in patients with major clinical depression. It shows neuroprotective efficacy against animal models of Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and other major neurological disorders. And it’s delicious. Pair with black pepper to make it even more effective.

2. Ashwagandha

The grandfather of Ayurvedic herbs, ashwagandha promotes a healthy response to stress. Stress is a major problem in the modern world. Everyone agrees. The big problem isn’t the thing causing the stress but how we respond to it. You can try reframing stress in your mind or learning to be less judgmental and reactionary and more present. You can also take the grandfather of Ayurvedic herbs, ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, meaning it promotes a healthy stress response. Stress happens and you can’t avoid it. Ayurveda acknowledges this and offers ashwagandha as an ally to handle it. Whether it’s the negative impact on fertility and sex hormone production, the response to resistance training, or the spike in cortisol and anxiety, ashwagandha helps reduce the negative effects of stress on our health and happiness. It basically makes oxidative stress less bad.

3. Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa monnieri enjoys attention from the techie crowd for its beneficial and considerable effects on memory, but they weren’t the first to discover its nootropic qualities; for thousands of years Ayurvedic healers have been prescribing it for improved mental health and cognition. Whether you’re a senior citizen suffering from memory impairment, an older person who’s otherwise healthy, or even a young adult with no complaints, bacopa monnieri can increase your focus and working memory.

4. Holy basil

Make pesto from this and someone’s liable to get lucky, at least according to traditional Ayurvedic herbalists who used holy basil as a powerful aphrodisiac. In rabbits, holy basil is a potent testosterone booster (while decreasing sperm count). In humans, the sexual effects haven’t been tested or confirmed. What have been confirmed are the boosts to immune function and blood glucose control and reductions in anxiety and depressive symptoms.

That said, a friend of mine swears by holy basil for testosterone and libido boosting. Here’s how he takes it:

Bring all three ingredients to a simmer for five minutes, cover, and let sit for another 5. Strain out the leaves and drink.

5. Tribulus

Tribulus terrestris has gained notoriety among bodybuilders for its apparent ability to increase testosterone. Actually, though, the evidence for a T effect in humans is nonexistent. It does seem to boost erection rigidity and sexual well being, possibly by increasing androgen receptor density and thus androgen activity in the brain.

6. Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola sounds like a weird Pepsi knock-off, but it’s a potent herb with strong evidence for efficacy against a number of conditions. First and foremost, gotu kola is a must-try for patients with chronic venous insufficiency. The herb improves the swelling, microcirculation problems, and blood flow issues that accompany CVI. It may also increase alertness in older adultsreduce anxiety, and induce calmness in the face of acoustic surprises or jump scares (so take it before a scary movie and appear extra tough).

7. Boswellia serrata

Some actually classify Boswella serrata as a “phytopharmaceutical,” it’s so effective against inflammation, particularly joint inflammation. In osteoarthritis of the knee, Boswellia serrata reduces joint stiffness and pain and improves all other symptoms. In a placebo controlled trial of asthmatic patients, taking boswellia serrata for 6 weeks reduced symptoms. There’s even a single case study of a woman who eliminated a brain tumor that had spread from her breast using just Boswellia serrata.

8. Black cumin

Not to be confused with regular old (but still awesome) cumin, black cumin is more medicinal than culinary. It’s a broad-spectrum antimicrobial, effective even against antibiotic resistant bacteria. According to a review on its pharmacological effects, black cumin may improve hemoglobin levels, increase respiration, lower blood pressure, and improve lipids. It’s also been shown to reduce inflammation. In obese men, black cumin had remarkable benefits to subjective well-being that were not seen in the placebo group, including the elimination of complaints of hunger, fatigue, sleeplessness, forgetfulness, poor libido, pain, and general weakness. Another placebo-controlled study found that black cumin seed oil was effective against rheumatoid arthritis.

The effects of individual herbs are compelling enough, but Ayurveda traditionally prescribes combinations of herbs that ostensibly have synergistic effects. When subjected to clinical trials, many of these combinations show efficacy against conditions like Alzheimer’s dementia, knee osteoarthritis (some may even reduce cartilage degradation), rheumatoid arthritis, and excess inflammation. Not bad, eh?

That’s just a small taste of the more notable Ayurvedic herbs. Covering the many dozens more (and the hundreds of permutations of each) is beyond the scope of this post. But these are some of the highlights.

What about you guys? Any experience (for better or worse) with Ayurvedic herbs? Let me know in the comments below.

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89 thoughts on “8 Ayurvedic Herbs That Actually Work”

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  1. I can tell you ginger not only helps nassea, it is even better at treating headaches and I have the worst headaches of anyone I know. Certainly not magic but good.

    1. How do you take the ginger for your headaches? Do you take in capsule form as a regular supplement, or do you use ginger tea when you have a headache to treat it, or some other way? I’d love to hear more of how you use it for your headaches.

      1. I’ve tried both ways and by far the best is to make Ginger tea (or any tea) and then add a heaping teaspoon of ground ginger and stir it up. It’s not that pleasant to drink at that point but can often drop the pain down a point or two on the pain scale. Very good when meds fail or you can’t take any more meds for a while and of course its natural and likely harmless.

        1. Thanks so much, appreciate the quick reply. I have alot of headaches and am really trying to manage the pain more naturally. I will certainly give it a try!

        2. This isn’t an herb, but the best thing I’ve found for headaches is a gel coldpac kept in the freezer. Put it on forehead, face, neck, ears, throat, try to bring down the heat caused by tension. Relax and try to unclench, which is the cause of most of my headaches. By the time the gelpack is nearing room temp, a lot of the pain should be gone.

    2. This brings baaad memories. Ten years ago I was in the gym at work pushing more weight (in retrospect) and I got the infamous tension headache (the tech word is Valsalva). It was like if somebody was hammering a nail in my head. Shortening the long story: MRI showed no damage, etc. The Drs prescribed some high octane pills headache pills, but what gave me effective release was the simple Excedrin. But what really really worked was the vodka.
      I spent two years with constant headache (tension, not migraine-quality). It was going down very gradually. And where I found the most useful info was in the weightlifting sites and blogs.
      So Groktimus, I am sure your headaches were stronger, but mine were longer 🙂
      (happy face, but the issue was not happy at all)

      1. Funny you mention vodka as a remedy. Once when I was bicycling in Moab, the evening after the first day’s riding I started having some serious leg cramp on the inner sides of my thighs. The muscles were to the point of knotting up.

        Desperate for pain relief, I took a swig (several, actually) of spiced rum, straight from the bottle. The leg cramps immediately disappeared, and didn’t return for the entire night. Maybe it was the placebo affect working, but it definitely worked.

        1. I think Ayurveda did not include the vodka for fear of the competition with the other spices. For pain this is a no-brainer:

          A hot brewing turmeric tea with all the dressings, made at the sound of tibetan bowls…

          Or a double shot of vodka (maybe laced with some honey and lemon juice)

          I’ll take the double shot any time 🙂
          (but what do I know, I am a caveman)

        2. I would get bad leg cramps from playing tennis tournaments and drinking pickle juice worked the best for me.

        3. Vaso-dilation effect of alcohol probably did the trick I would imagine.

  2. Anyone know if these are all good to take as a pregnant lady? Clearly tumeric is still okay, any of these not recommended?

    1. Turmeric isn’t recommended during pregnancy (which was a huge bummer for me, as it helps my inflammation tremendously). It is apparently okay during breastfeeding and can help boost supply.

      From what I understand, turmeric can be too stimulating for pregnancies (much in the same way women are advised to avoid stimulating essential oils as well) .

      1. Quick research, and should have clarified, turmeric supplements are not recommended, but with food it seems okay.

        Makes me wonder about the others.

    2. I’ve had to get up many nights and had to eat salt or potassium chloride and the pain went away within minutes. Potassium chloride is “fake” salt of curse.

  3. Love turmeric and holy basil! I loved them back in my vegetarian/vegan days and love them just as much now. I use turmeric both fresh and dried (fresh is amazing if you can find it) and have used holy basil in tea form. I blend turmeric into my coffee some mornings, along with my coconut oil and collagen. Totally believe there is truth and wisdom in Ayurveda. When I was a mostly a raw vegan I was pretty offended when I was told that as a Vata I needed some cooked food and warming spices, since I felt that all raw had to be best. Many years later I realize that it was great advice. Reading this post makes me anxious to try some of the other herbs as well!

  4. I use Tumeric for colds and flu, using it to whip up Golden Milk for my family and also put it in my scrambled eggs. We actually go through quite a lot of it in my house.

  5. These herbs may have good medicinal properties. but they can also come with some unwanted side-effects, like raising blood pressure, raising blood sugar, or the herbs themselves (when bought in supplement form) can contain lead and/or arsenic. I urge you to do your homework on the herb AND the manufacturer, AND the source if need be before diving into use fir health problems–you might wind up with a whole NEW problem!

    1. +1. People tend to think herbs and various other supplements are completely beneficial and totally harmless, particularly when compared to pharmaceutical drugs–but that isn’t always true. Also, more isn’t necessarily better. Megadosing with anything can have negative side effects.

    2. Thank you for your words of wisdom. I totally agree with you. One should be very carefully and start with a very low dosage over an extended period of time; with the exception of known spice like turmeric

  6. Hey good article. I just wanted to echo Caitlin’s question. My wife is pregnant and we use some of these? Are most/all A-Okay?

    Ciao
    Joe

    1. It’s always best to check with an expert – bare minimum with something like the Encyclopedia of Medicinal Herbs. While some are ok, some herbs can cause pre-term labor and have other unwanted effects in pregnant women.

      1. This we know, but for once can someone do the research for us? Lazy mom over here… It’d just be nice if this information was always included in blog posts.

        1. Yes, really. , MDA needs to include contraindications for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. That should be easy enough for the author with all the info at the time of writing.

  7. The downside, of course, is that medicating with herbs can take several weeks before any improvement is noticed, particularly with pain relief. This can cause people to ditch the idea, thinking it isn’t going to work. We are a society that likes instant relief. With herbal treatments, however, patience is often a prerequisite.

  8. I take a curcumin BCM-95 supplement (tumeric is not bioavailable enough to be of medicinal value IMHO, but is a good spice) and also cycle on and off an adaptogen supplement that includes ashwagandha and gotu kola. I also take boswellia, I believe you can take it up to 6 months at a time.

  9. I take Rhodiola Rosea every day for anxiety/stress. It also regulates my sleep cycle like nothing else i’ve ever tried. As in, I actually sleep like a normal human now! Another useful adaptogen.

    1. Hello! What time of the day do you take rhodiola and in what amount? Thank you!

      1. I too take Rhodiola, one dropperful (HerbPharm tincture), morning and evening.

    2. I take one rhodiola in the morning, because I heard it helps with stress but can also be stimulating if taken at night. I take one ashwagandha at bedtime, plus magnesium and Costco’s “Super Sleep” (= 5-HTP, melatonin, and L-theanine).

      In the middle of the night when (not if) I wake up, I take another ashwagandha and another Super Sleep. I put them in a little dish in the bathroom so I can just feel for them in the dark.

      I’m a post-menopausal women, and I also take bioidentical oral progesterone (prometrium), which also helps my sleep. I take one at bedtime and one in the middle of the night.

      Plus, I avoid screens and bright light for an hour or two before bed (I wear “blue-blocker” dark glasses around the house). Avoiding sugar also helps – definitely affects my sleep.

      With all of the above, my sleep too is now almost normal — a revelation!

      In previous years I was sleeping 3 -4 hours a night for days at a time. I don’t know I managed to (a) keep my job (b) not die in a car accident.

  10. I found out the hard way that Ashwagandha is a nightshade when I felt nauseous and got headaches every morning after taking a supplement. Took me a week or so to figure it out too. Don’t take Ashwagandha if you have a nightshade sensitivity!!

  11. I think black cumin seed oil is also an immune system modulator. It seems to help with my allergies.

  12. Thanks Mark. I am interested to know how often your friend takes that Holy Basil infusion – 2x daily, daily, weekly? Also what time of day does he take it? I was diagnosed with low testosterone through blood testing and after extensive research put myself on 10mg of boron daily. This boosted me into the low end of the normal range and has held me there for the last 5 years. Holy basil interests me and I plan on researching and possibly testing it. Thanks again for the great information.

  13. Of the above, I prescribe (and have taken) boswellia, gotu kola, ashwagandha, turmeric and bacopa–all with good effect.

    When I use these or other herbs, I pretty much always use them as part of formulas (whether in supplement, granule or decoction form).

    This sort of synergistic combining is an art and a science, and plays a key role in determining an herb’s effects. (It’s also a key way most traditional medicines differ from modern western approaches, which tend to isolate one part of one herb, rather than take a whole-herb, whole-formula approach.)

    Herb quality and sourcing is also a huge determinant of results. Personally, I only go with medicinal-quality, thoroughly tested products available through licensed health practitioners. That way, I know what I’m taking–important not just for safety but also therapeutic effects.

  14. I have been taking Holy Basil and Ashwagandha. They have been a lifesaver during my time of extreme anxiety and mild depression. You can find out more here http://www.medicinehunter.com/holy-basil

    According to my supplement information, Holy Basil is not recommended for pregnant women or nursing women and can even cause infertility in some case. I would consult with a naturopath before trying theses supplement if pregnant or nursing.

  15. Mark… You tell us about the “possible” benefits. How have the above herbs made a difference in your general well being?

  16. Would love to have had some guidance in this post about effective amounts, and/or best forms to consume these herbs. Can anyone point to a ready source?

  17. Been dealing with chronic tennis elbow and curious if turmeric would help relieve the pain. Anybody know how much is needed for joint pain relief? Is it enough to just season food with it or should I seek out or make tablets?

  18. I spent like 3 months or more adding turmeric to my water bottle at work
    Other than my face turning orange (*)
    I did not notice any change (good or bad)
    and discontinued it

    (*) mild exageration, not true at all

    1. Turmeric is poorly absorbed and quickly metabolized, so little of it makes it to the blood stream where it can be effective. In foods with oils/fats and combined with a component of black pepper it can be more quickly absorbed and in higher quantities but its still fairly weak. I tried some teas and pastes made with raw turmeric root, ginger and black pepper. Hard to drink/eat and I noticed no difference in my extensive joint inflammation. I’m trying a pill form I got from Costco that combined it with olive leaf extract black pepper extract and an extracted version of turmeric. I’ve been using it for 3 days. Not really seeing a measurable difference.

  19. Really great article, never even heard of a few of these herbs, but I just ordered about 4 different kinds on Amazon to give them a shot. I use turmeric(Meriva) once every other day. I am already pretty healthy in my subjective opinion. It seems to reduce soreness, but I really cannot say its anything specific causing that. I have been doing lots of positive things for my body as of lately and I think its more or less a compounded effect of everything I am doing. Who knows, all I know is im feeling the best I have ever felt.

    Excited to try these new herbal supplements out. I have already noticed a cognitive boost in all aspects just moving to primal eating and being in borderline ketosis. Quite amazing.

    Thanks for the article.

  20. Can you do a post on raising blood pressure? Normally my blood pressure is around 100/70, but I am 12 weeks pregnant, and just like last pregnancy my blood pressure has gone down. I haven’t had it checked but every time I stand up I have to lean on something and my sight goes black for a moment. Everything I read just says eat more salt but I liberally salt everything I eat. Any suggestions from anyone with personal experience would be appreciated.

    1. I had low bp too in pregnancy. Nothing really helped. Lots of rest though! And coffee and i ate lots of canned sardines and eggs and was ok. Also heard women in pregnancy who eat eggs have higher iq kids.

      1. I stopped coffee because I was worried it might be affecting my baby’s sleep (I breastfeed) but never actually had any solid consistent observations of that happening. How much caffeine were you having? That’s awesome about the eggs, before I got pregnant I was reacting to eggs with an intense burning stomach pain when I ate them, but after I found out I was pregnant i tried again with no ill effects, so now I’m eating 4 eggs for breakfast everyday and I love it! Thanks for the personal wisdom. 🙂

    2. I sometimes had to add some salt, say a half teaspoon, to a glass of water, to avoid the point of really annoyingly bad low blood pressure. I also tended to plan very salty snacks, like a bowl of popcorn each afternoon. I have found it to be very slow to improve and it’s corresponded with overall health improvements. I don’t know if you’ve considered acupuncture, but if I ever get back to the stupidly-low blood pressure range again, that’s what I’d do.

      1. I’ll need to do the salt water thing again.
        I have not considered that and will not. No needles all over my body, I don’t trust anyone enough to do that! Plus it sounds expensive. Thanks though. 🙂

        1. Hi TF, do make sure you’re getting enough fluids too, particularly if you’re breastfeeding (not sure if you meant you are breastfeeding now); hydration levels affect blood pressure. You say you haven’t checked your blood pressure and it sounds like you’re familiar with your own symptoms but will you have an antenatal check soon anyway? Best wishes ????

        2. To Caroline: Yes I am breastfeeding now (still 8+ times a day and 6+ times at night). Thank you for the advice, I definitely need to work on that, I don’t drink much during the day but get really thirsty at night, so that’s probably a good sign I need more water. Yes, I’ve been meaning to make a prenatal appointment, I procrastinate a lot. Didn’t go last pregnancy until 4 months. Going to a place where you’re constantly being pushed to get a flu shot is not something I look forward to. :p Best wishes to you too! 🙂

  21. This is all fascinating…bummer that most of these are not better studied. You’ve got me interested in holy basil and gotu kola particularly for the anti-depressive and anxiety reducing properties. Once again, you’ve given me something to dig deeper into! Glad I follow your blog 🙂

  22. Love the info, but one suggestion:
    As is the case with most info out there, one size does NOT fit all, so don’t assume that every herb on the list is good for you.
    I recently received my 23andme data and learned some of these items are NOT ideal for me — including turmeric/curcumin, despite the fact that I’ve been using it because virtually every doc I’ve met has recommended it for my rampant inflammation…
    If one’s body can’t process a substance because of genetics or illness or any other reason, then maybe what the studies show isn’t relevant for that person at that time.
    It turns out green tea and several other “healthy” foods/herbs also may be problematic for me metabolically because of gene SNPs (which may explain why I never felt great after having green tea). Sometimes we have to trust our intuition (or get the genetic info, or do both)…

    I think a little of a good thing in its whole food source is probably okay for most people, but if you tend to overdo or supplement with high doses, maybe it’s worth finding out first if you could be doing yourself a disservice while trying to do the “right” thing.

    1. This is an important point. Ashwaganda and Rhodolia make me feel MORE anxious and generally a bit weird. Holy Basil is fine and helpful however. One should be very careful with medicinal herbs.

    2. Good point, I always struggle with the idea that any food item that only grows in one spot on the planet (especially one with a totally different climate) is essential to the health of all humans, and should be included regularly in the diet, whether it’s quinoa, akai berries, coconut oil, or black pepper.

      India doesn’t seem to boast markedly improved longevity over the rest of the world nor overall better health, growth rates, and stamina, even prior to the introduction of vegetable oils, junk food and modern lifestyles, and while you can argue we’ve all been thrown out of balance by modern diets, medications etc., which I accept, there’s something of the quest for an elixir of life about the way these things are marketed and discussed (not so much here to be fair to Mark’s provision of references) that gives me the willies.

      The last 5 or 10 generations of my family didn’t eat this stuff in large and regular amounts, and while I love some Indian cuisine, I’m not going to start making it a *daily* addition, because that just goes totally counter to my intuition. Excellent post though, and yes I’m a hypocrite because I make an exception for coffee, but that’s a lurve thang… 🙂

      1. i am of irish and italian descent and ashwaghanda has been a real life-saver for me over the last few months. my stress and anxiety were off the charts and this herb really helped.

        your n~1 is best so don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just because your great-great-great grandpa ate mostly beets or whatever.

      2. Mrs, Rathbone, http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/cause-of-death/alzheimers-dementia/by-country/ this is the reason that I remain Primal/Paleo but I use Ayurvedic Herbs for my health and my family’s health.
        The Ayurveda got it wrong vegetarianism is sub-nutritional but some of the herbs still work. Many of the herbs won’t do a thing for you not just Ayurvedic but all herbs in general but the ones that do should be used before you take anything from the drug pushers …oops, I meant Doctors.

    3. So does 23andMe provide detailed explanation on their findings in layman’s terms? Or do they simply give you raw data?

      1. When you get the 23andme raw data you can upload it to other sites for interpretation (I used nutrahacker, but there are others)… it was spot on with other genetic panels I have done, so I am inclined to believe it

    4. If the herbs cannot help you, look into low dose naltrexone for your inflammation.

      1. I do now a lot of people who have had success with the LDN for inflammatory ailments (unfortunately, not us… Lyme disease has really messed things up for everyone in our family).

  23. Hello TF, regarding the morning faint…drink a lot of juice/tea/water BEFORE you get out of bed! If you like to drink something warm and you have a nice partner make him prepare it for you, but you can also fill a thermos the evening before with whatever you like to drink (and what’s appropriate obviously;-) I’m no expert but apparently a part of the liquid you take passes into your blood and raises the blood pressure…Give it a try, it can’t hurt, good luck!

  24. TF, low bp in pregnancy is very common. During pregnancy, the vascular bed expands rapidly and hormonal changes cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to lowered bp. Blood also pools in your lower body when sitting or standing for long periods of time. Dehydration and anemia are also causes of symptoms like yours. Usually, the only problem with low bp is danger of fainting and falling. Keep nibbling on your olives and nuts, drink lots of water, take a few slow deep breaths and stretches before standing and sit up/stand up S-L-O-W-L-Y.

    1. Thanks for the info. It’s hard for me to drink much water during the day because I only ever feel thirsty at night, but I’ll try and be more conscious of that. Do the fats in the olives and nuts help with blood pressure? I’ll definitely have to work on getting up more slowly. Thank you for the suggestions. 🙂

      1. There was a study that showed that olives and olive oil aren’t always helpful to people of northern European heritage, I can’t find it right now but if your ancestry was anything other than mediterranean, you might want to just look at what your grandparents ate, drank, etc?

        1. My ancestry includes Irish and German, so that’s interesting to hear about olives (always hated olives and olive oil tastes like play dough to me). My grandparents are mostly all alive and they have never eaten well as far as I’ve known. If I could go back a few more generations and know what they ate, that’d be awesome.

  25. The list of medicinal herbs is much longer than just eight. There are several others. Milk Thistle is is very good for detox and liver function. It is actually an antidote for the poisonous Amanita mushroom. Intravenous megadoses are stocked in European emergency rooms and saves the lives of many amateur fungus hunters every year. I have a medical textbook dating back to 1908. It lists herbs and common compounds for certain ailments. I cured my gout by supplementing with potassium bicarbonate as the suggested standard of care before the pharmaceutical industry corrupted medical education. My blood pressure went down to low normal as well.

  26. I use and grow many herbs at home; many of them have powerful medicinal properties and are very worth learning more about. I love turmeric and feel definite pain relief from it. I would advise going slowly, and adding just one at a time. Last year I started adding a small amount of gotu kola daily, for circulation, without knowing a whole lot about it. About a month later I broke out in a case of full-body itchy hives. When I researched I learned that it can cause this allergic reaction. Now I read up more before I try something new- Herbs are more powerful than you think.

  27. Another excellent article.

    I’ve no doubt about the efficacy of many natural products. Doubts grow, however, when you read this article back-to-back with your article of a couple of weeks ago concerning 15 reasons to challenge nutritional studies.

    If we can’t get the experimental setting correct today, with control groups, consistent product quality, precise dosing, accurate measurement of outcomes, how did our ancestors decide a group of products were better than others?

    Much must have been down to chance. And, perhaps, the things they ignored have even better life affirming qualities…

  28. Has anybody tried any of these herbs with pets – dogs in particular?

    1. We went to an vet that was experienced with Ayurvetic medicine. Our dog had an autoimmune disease & had good luck with Ashwagandha & Boswellia to help keep her calmer & reduce pain.

      1. THYME for post pancreatitis SIBO – it’s the one herb that the human studies showed beat antibiotics, and it also works for a pup with smelly farts.

        Do the research. 🙂

  29. I have only tried turmeric and holy basil in food. I love turmeric tea and thai food.

    I have heard of ashwangandha, but don’t know it. I would definitely second researching them thoroughly as supplements, I say this as someone who had a horrible gut reaction to raw maca powder (raw can cause digestion issues).

  30. I can’t say I noticed any of those effects from all of the tribulus terrestris injections I got walking around barefoot in rural Southern California.

  31. I’ve been using Boswellia for a few years now. I started taking it for a chronically achy hip that x-rays weren’t showing signs of arthritis in. I didn’t notice a dramatic improvement, but my hip did improve gradually. I thought it might’ve been coincidental & when my bottle ran low, didn’t replace it. A couple of weeks later, I noticed that my hip was hurting again. I’ve repeated that experiment a few more times & now am a believer. Comparing my worst days without Boswellia to my best with it, I’d say it works about as well as ibuprofen.

    1. I had a similar experience with Boswellia. I went through an entire bottle but noticed no difference in my knee osteoarthritis (I later learned that it can take a month or more to kick in).

      I instead decided to make bone broth, and I drink at least a cup a day. I rarely if ever feel any discomfort in my knee: and despite the creaking, it remains flexible and feels strong.

      In 2012 I had knee replacement surgery on my right knee (old sports injury from college days). The doctor took an x-ray of my left knee which she said wasn’t quite bone-on-bone as the right knee had been (ouch! ouch!), but she showed me bone spurs, etc., and said it wouldn’t be long before I would require a knee replacement on that knee as well.

      Well, I wasn’t about to go through that ordeal any time soon, and here it is almost 4 years later, and if I hadn’t seen the proof of the osteoarthritis, I can honestly say I would not be aware of it — now that I drink my bone broth daily. We always have a big stock pot on the stove. I also gave Boswellia another try, just for extra insurance (even though, by then, I was well into my bone broth regimen) but I may just stop using it after the current bottle is empty (just take one a day) since I’m pretty sure the award for true cause/effect goes to the all-powerful (imo) bone broth. I would never touch NSAIDS, never have. They may help inflammation but certainly are not worth the very real risk to one’s health.

      I’ve read again and again how osteoarthritis is incurable, non-reversible, etc., but now and then I come across a difference of opinion on that–and I’m just stubborn enough to believe the body, given what it asks for, can heal much of what ails it. For now, I’m sticking with that! And…bone broth.

      To your health~

  32. As a 5 year crossfitter, i put a lot of wear and tear on my body. I swear by 3 amazing herbs.
    Tumeric-Curcumin with black pepper (inflamation). God knows i’m sore ALL the time. Ashwagahnda root (stress). Sometimes i just look at the work out and it terrifies me. And last but not least Rhodiola Rosea (my secret weapon for endurance). I run with cross fitters that eat a half marathon for breakfast.

  33. Scrolling through the comments, let me add a couple. Ginger is wonderful, but make sure it doesn’t come from China. Too many toxins. Ditto Garlic from China, or any other food or herb for that matter. I love Black Cumin Seed Oil. Immensely powerful antibiotic, but get the strongest brand you can find, although the taste gets increasingly unpleasant. I have discovered that mixed with whisky 50/50 seems to give it a turbo boost. I think that alcohol makes it absorb more efficiently, and the ellagic acid found in whisky may work synergistically. Also less gloopy and oily to swallow, if you don’t mind the taste of whisky! I even use it topically — makes a wonderful skin healer and moisturiser. And it doesn’t smell!

  34. Turmeric is a fantastic spice. Having said that, the studies you link to used curcumin and other turmeric extracts, not the spice itself. This does not rule out the possibility that eating turmeric-flavoured dishes every day for a year or longer can have a beneficial effect on your health, but these studies provide no proof of this.

  35. There is a group of people who have been using curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) for years now as a tool in the fight against Multiple Myeloma. MM is an incurable and always fatal bone marrow cancer, and people are having anecdotal success in delaying progression. The research explains some of the mechanisms by which this may be possible. However, particular brands are important as is the relationship to chemicals such as piperine (in black pepper) as cofactors. The quantities and timing are much more than you see printed in the back of the packet.

  36. That’s interesting, Lyn. MM is a horrible disease, my grandmother died of it in the 80s. Be good to finally find a cure.

  37. I get my dose of Turmeric when I eat French Fries. No ketchup or catsup for me just calorie free, tangy mustard!

  38. I’ve been a user of turmeric since forever, obviously in curries but it’s also great in scrambled eggs: knob of butter, let it go past froth stage, big pinch of turmeric powder stirred through hot butter, straight in with the beaten eggs. Home run.

    Recently discovered turmeric root. Blew my mind. So fresh and a very unique flavor.

    Mayo with turmeric and black pepper is great with salmon.

  39. I have psoriasis. It used to be really bad and out of contol. I first got introduced to Ayurveda about 20 years ago by Dr. Shailender Dhawan at http://www.psorcure.com. He truly saved me. I now only have psoriasis on my scalp. It is amazing! His herbs and oils work wonders. Now with adding a paleo diet, I hope to complete my healing from psoriasis. Thank you Mark for all of your great articles! You are a great inspiration.

  40. You should include king of all herbs – Triphala (actually a concoction of 3 dried fruits) into this list!