Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. All of the uncomfortable sensations you can name, we have a pill for. For many of us, a quick-fix solution like popping a Xanax, reaching for the Alive, or whatever other magic pills the doctor recommended us is a great way to get through the day. Whether it be escaping the stress of the moment, getting over a cold, or managing pain there's always a pill to get you through it. Many don't ask much, and what could we ask? The majority of us aren't doctors, so we trust the person who is supposed to know what is best for our health. Knowledge can be scary, and if you dig in and do a bit of research chances are you'll find that whatever you've been prescribed, or have started taking over the counter, actually tends to have some pretty adverse health effects. Even the ones that won't kill you take a toll on the brain and the body.
Thankfully, knowledge can also be very reassuring, and if you do enough research, you can find some of that reassuring knowledge as well. Natural, plant-based supplements. Being fit and eating clean is trendy these days, everyone has some type of diet, and many go out of their way to take care of themselves. However, even those on the latest plant-based diets and workout routines tend to take what the doctors give them and let their standard for health fall when presented with an ailment, physical or mental.
The confused look that appears on a gym-rats face when you talk about probiotics says it all. You may have heard the word but have no idea what it means. That's okay, I'm going to dive into probiotics and many other wonderful supplements that nature provides us, and open your mind to the awesome alternatives, as well as just good tips for healthy living.
Even the cleanest eating workout warriors get sick, it is something that is just about impossible to avoid. Whether it be antibiotics or other medicines like day-quil, many struggles through a few minor colds a year, and hope to avoid anything serious. Though these natural supplements are not bullet-proof, they do make a huge difference in how susceptible you are to getting sick, and for how long the sickness lasts.
Astragalus is a plant that has incredible health benefits, and it is relatively inexpensive as far as supplements go. Astragalus is proven to improve the immune system, as well as fight inflammation – the cause of many diseases. Astragalus has many other benefits that can be taken advantage of simply by taking the supplement daily. Astragalus is a great way to both prevent yourself from getting sick when the cold season rolls around as well as fight off any cold you do catch faster. If can't take my word for it, go ahead and look it up yourself. Astragalus is one of the go-to immune boosters for anybody that knows their plants and roots. If you don't believe me, look Astragalus, and any of the other supplements up for yourself and you can see that this isn't fringe, it just gets overlooked because of all the modern medicines and supplements we have today.
Probiotics are another supplement many fail to take advantage of, one which can truly be life-changing. I'm not a doctor so I won't go in depth about bacteria, but essentially we all live bacteria outnumbering our bodies cells 10-1. This isn't to alarm you as there are two kinds of bacteria, good and bad. Probiotics are live, good-bacteria. Basically, probiotics work to help boost the strength of your gut-flora, which is actually responsible for much of the state of our health. Lots of diseases and discomforts come from not taking care of our gut-flora, something a modern diet of fast-food and processed foods takes quite the toll on. Beyond being a boost of good bacteria, probiotics also work to reduce inflammation, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, boost the immune system as well as aid symptoms of anxiety and depression. As someone who has long struggled with stomach issues, as well as anxiety and depression I can speak to the powerful effects of probiotics. Do your own research, find out what kind of probiotics would best benefit you and give them a shot. Using probiotics as a daily supplement boost your immune system and make you feel better overall. I believe this to be one of the essential supplements, one that is unfortunately often overlooked.
Ashwagandha (Ash-Wa-Gan-Da) is a popular ingredient in many natural supplements, but one you can take great advantage of on its own. This is the great natural workout supplement that helps your body beyond the gym, but for those fitness freaks out there, this can be the natural supplement that gets you hooked on plants. Ashwagandha has been attributed to the following: reduction in blood-sugar, anti-cancer properties, cortisol (stress) reduction, anxiety/depression reduction, Testosterone boost in men, muscle mass and strength boost, inflammation reduction, cholesterol reduction, and memory improvement. While Ashwagandha should not be taken by everyone, it is widely considered one of few supplements with the least risk profile – aka don't take Ashwagandha if you're pregnant, breastfeeding, or have diabetes. Outside of this profile most can take Ashwagandha and enjoy its wide-ranging benefits. Just as many don't eat enough greens in their diet, many forget the powerful benefits of plant supplements such as Ashwagandha.
Nootropics are one of the most amazing supplements that have an effect you can notice within an hour usually, and over time the effects are only more evident. Nootropics are “smart-drugs” or supplements that are good for your brain. The best part is that you can find Nootropics that all natural and plant-based. Last week I discussed using Alpha Brain to boost motivation and inspiration, a plant-based nootropic from Onnit that has truly been a life-changer. There are always good comparisons to make to help you understand better what each plant supplement does. For example, Kava root is considered the Valium of plant-based supplements. Well if Kava is the Valium of plant-based supplements, nootropics such as Alpha-Brain are the natural version of Ritalin. If you've ever been so fortunate as to experience the wonderful focus and production boost that comes from Ritalin you can appreciate a version that both come from the earth, and isn't packed with speedy drugs that make you're heart-race. Nootropics improve cognitive functions, such as focus and memory. Many believe that taking Nootropics puts you a step above mentally because of the improved cognitive function is something many deprive themselves of. The clarity of thought and deep focus that come with taking Nootropics is invaluable.
Cannabis as a natural supplement. When you think of weed, you often imagine smoking a joint or something along those lines. Well, with legalization has come the ability to experiment and do things with cannabis that haven't been done before. Juicing the cannabis plants to get the health benefits from the plant itself without smoking anything has been a trend on the rise. Cannabis is becoming recognized as a superfood, which puts it up there with Avocados and all sorts of other greens that do amazing things for your body. THC pills and oil concentrates with side effects such as focus, and relaxation is becoming more and more prevalent on the market. So while you may not have thought of cannabis as a supplement before, give it some thought, and next time you go to take an alive, consider hitting the dispensary for some mary's medicinals.
The list of natural supplements goes on, I could dive into cooking with Tumeric, or using local raw honey to fight allergies, but you'd get bored reading about it, so maybe I'll save those for another time. But if reading this has peaked your interest, or alerted you to some things you hadn't heard about, I recommend doing a bit of research and seeing if some of these supplements couldn't help you. While I didn't go too in-depth I'll leave you with a couple points I believe are important.
Doing your own research here is key – don't go buying anything I've listed without seeing if it is right for you.
These aren't magic pills that work over-night. It may take a couple of weeks before you notice the effects, but either way, your body is thanking you. People on plant-based diets rave about how healthy they feel, how much their bodies appreciate it. Supplements such as Ashwagandha have been used for thousands of years, our bodies welcome that type of medicine.
The implications of the reduction of stress and inflammation are huge. If you take any type of benzo or other anti-depressants, there may be an all-natural answer that is better for you than the mind-altering ways of anti-depressants and benzos such as Xanax. Inflammation causes not only disease but pain as well. So if you're on opioids for treatment the combination of natural supplements and cannabis may allow you to get off the harmful pills that keep you a prisoner to them.
There is science behind this, but doctors get paid to push pharmaceuticals, so it isn't in their best interest for you take Ashwagandha and Astragalus every day and stay out of their office it doesn't do them any good. Taking probiotics can alleviate the need for many stomach medicines such as Zantac and such.
We forget that we as humans are just animals, just as natural as bears and cows. While things made in a lab can be okay, things we get from the earth are there for our bodies benefit, and we often forget this.
These supplements can be found at shops such as Natural Grocers, Sprouts, Whole Foods and www.onnit.com.
Until next week, be well my friends.