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6 Popular Chinese Herbal Supplements for Better Health

Chinese herbal medicine has been practiced for thousands of years to treat a variety of illnesses. With so many herbal supplements to choose from, here are six that you might find beneficial for your health and life.

Chinese herbal medicine has been practiced for many years, with its foundational roots stemming from somewhere between the second century B.C.E. and the second century A.D. Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, is often used today along with modern medicine in China and other places around the world. The basis of TCM is that all bodies require balance and and the proper flowing of energy to maintain optimum health, according to NYU Langone Medical Center. The Cleveland Clinic states that Chinese herbs can be beneficial to those who have exhausted conventional medical options for treating ailments or illnesses, those who haven't responded to acupuncture and for those who seek a natural way to reduce the side effects of medications. Here is an introduction to some popular Chinese herbs and their purposes

1. Maca Root (Lepidium meyenii)

Used to boost energy, endurance and sexual desire, the root of the maca vegetable can provide a variety of benefits. According to Dr. Oz, one study reported that when taken after exercising, maca root was shown to lessen muscle fatigue by reducing the amounts of lactic acid and malonic acid in the body. Maca root is generally regarded as safe, but it should not be used by women who are pregnant or lactating or those who are allergic to vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

2. Panax Ginseng 

The root of the Panax ginseng plant has been used over 5,000 years in Chinese medicine to enhance cognitive functions, such as thinking, concentration, work efficiency and memory, according to Medline Plus of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In addition, Panax ginseng has been used in TCHM to encourage calmness and promote healthy blood pressure and blood vessels.

3. Goji Berry 

Typically eaten cooked, dried or raw, goji berries (or wolfberry) can provide a boost of vitamins C and E. Though there is currently insufficient research as to the effectiveness of goji berry as a medicinal treatment, it has been traditionally used to treat many common health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and eye problems associated with aging. Additionally, goji berry may be able to provide an overall improvement in immune function. If you take warfarin, you should not try goji berries.

4. Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)

The University of Maryland Medical Center states that in TCM, astragalus root is used as a restorative tonic and also regarded as an “adaptogen,” or herb that can defend the body from physical, emotional and mental stress. The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of astragalus root may be able to benefit your immune system, blood pressure and liver. It may also be able to help you fight diseases like diabetes and heart disease while preventing colds and upper respiratory infections. If you take immune suppressant drugs or lithium, you should not use astragalus.

5. Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra)

For thousands of years, licorice root has been used to improve a variety of illnesses. Licorice with glycyrrhiza can produce a variety of serious side effects, so you should look for the safer option, deglycyrrhizinated licorice. This type of licorice root has been used to treat indigestion, GERD, canker sores, upper respiratory infections and may be able to provide benefits for reducing body fat and contributing to weight loss, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Licorice supplements may interact with multiple medications and health conditions, so talk to your doctor before you try licorice.

6. Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus)

The berries of the chaste shrub are dried and used for medical purposes related to women's menstruation and reproductive health. Chasteberry supplements may be able to help with reducing symptoms of PMS like bloating, mood swings and breast tenderness by regulating the ratio of progesterone to estrogen and reducing prolactin, according to Whole Health Chicago. Women who suffer from PMS-related acne, depression and irritability—and even menopausal hot flashes—may benefit from taking chasteberry. This herb can also provide positive effects for women struggling with hormone-related infertility. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take chasteberry.

Traditional Chinese medicine has withstood the test of time in many places throughout the world, as it is frequently practiced alongside modern medicine. While Chinese herbs can provide a variety of benefits for your health, not all of them have sufficient research as to their effectiveness; they are not suitable for everyone, and those with medical conditions or taking other medications should be especially cautious. It is recommended that you speak with your licensed health care practitioner before trying any supplement. 

You can find all of the herbal supplements mentioned in this article at eVitamins. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

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eVitamins recommends that you do not rely on the information presented in this article as diagnosis for treatment to any health claim. Content and information on this site is for reference purposes and is not intended to substitute for advice given by a physician, pharmacist, or other licensed health-care professional. You should not use this information as self-diagnosis or for treating a health problem or disease. Contact your health-care provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem. The information and statements in this article have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. eVitamins assumes no liability for inaccuracies or misstatements.
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