Is there one key to longevity? Unfortunately, no. However, there are practices that have been in use for thousands of years to support current and future health. You just have to find the combination that works best for you.
Herbs may help you improve your health in more ways than one, preparing you for the changes you'll experience as you age.
A Little About Herbal Medicine
Herbs have been used for thousands of years to promote health and wellness. From Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to Ayurvedic Medicine in India, herbs have long played an integral role in medicine. The focus of herbal and naturopathic medicine is to treat the whole person and recognize the connection between all of the body's systems. Herbs are used to solve underlying issues that cause certain symptoms, instead of just temporarily relieving the symptom itself.
Today, there is a growing interested in returning to this form of medicine as either an alternative or compliment to Western practices and medications. Larger studies are now being conducted to determine the exact actions and benefits of herbs within the body to perhaps better document what has been claimed for years. The most common ways to consume these herbs is by brewing them into a tea or broth (either fresh or dried), in capsules and tablets or as a liquid extract, either with (tincture) or without alcohol.
Which Herbs to Try
Adding herbs to your daily routine is one way to maintain the health of your body and possibly delay and/or prevent certain health problems. When combined with proper diet and exercise, they can have some wonderful benefits. These five herbs are considered adaptogens, because they help the body adapt to various stressors in their own way to keep you feeling your best. Here's why you should give them a try:
1. Holy Basil -- Not only does holy basil (Ocimum sanctum L.) help your body handle stressors better physically, it also helps you feel more calm and relaxed throughout the day. This herb is known to inhibit the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. This hormone is responsible for making you feel anxious, which raises your blood pressure, weakens the immune system and can actually make you gain weight.
2. Ashwagandha -- Taking ashwagandha (Withania somniferum) on a daily basis can help you strengthen your body's natural defenses against infection and illness. Ashwagandha is known to support the immune system thanks to its active compounds, known as withanolides. It may also help promote a healthy inflammatory response throughout the body.
3. Ginkgo biloba -- The most widely studied use of ginkgo is for cognitive function and is known to improve concentration and memory. It may possibly prevent Alzheimer's disease and dementia, although more research will be needed. It's also known to support proper circulation and also helps prevent and possibly repair damage caused to the optic nerve of the eye by glaucoma.
4. Ginseng -- As you get older, you may notice your energy levels decreasing. American ginseng (Panax ginseng) is a natural energy booster that can help you feel more alert. This herb also supports cognitive function, so you can better concentrate and focus on the task at hand. It's can also beneficial for sexual health, especially for men who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED).
5. Rhodiola -- If you're struggling to stick to your fitness routine, Rhodiola rosea can help. Known to improve energy and endurance, this herb can assist you in powering through your routine to stay in shape. It's also known to benefit the immune system, keep mood in balance and maintain healthy function of the entire central nervous system.
As with any supplement, it's important to speak with your physician before adding any herbal supplements to your routine if you've diagnosed with a medical condition or are pregnant or nursing. Certain herbs can interfere with certain prescription and over-the-counter medications and can also impact blood sugar levels.
Additional Tips for Longevity
Diet and supplements can make a world of difference in your health now and in the future. Here are some additional ways to support longevity:
Get as much sleep as possible. Seven to nine hours a night minimum.
Visit your doctor annually and have your scheduled screenings.
Meditate daily to reduce stress and anxiety.
Work out your brain each day with a puzzle or try studying a new language.
Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day.
Make interactions with friends and family and priority and avoid isolation.
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