1. Hawaiian Noni (morinda citrifolia)
Noni forms a part of the traditional Hawaiian and Indian Ayurvedic herbal traditions, and has been described as ‘nature’s amazing healer’. It may help bring the body into balance, possibly by normalising abnormally functioning cells.
Good for: depression, diabetes, blood pressure, blood vessel problems, arthritis, period pain and other painful conditions, senility, addiction and poor digestion.
Taking the supplement as a tonic, take 100ml of Hawaiian (not French Polynesian/Tahitian) juice before breakfast five days a week.
2. Essential fatty acids
The essential fatty acids (EFAs) in marine fish oils, linseeds, and evening primrose, starflower and borage oils provide one of nature’s most versatile medicines. EFAs are broken down to produce, hormone-like substances needed for many essential functions in the body.
Good for: premenstrual syndrome, arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, high blood pressure, allergies, migraine, infertility. Dr Basant Puri, Consultant and Senior Lecturer at Hammersmith Hospital claims EFAs could provide safe treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, schizophrenia and Huntingdon’s disease.
How much do you need? Some researchers suggest 300-600mg a day, but you should always read the label.
This natural substance has been shown to relieve pain and swelling of osteoarthritis and actually rebuild eroded joint tissue. A study at the University of Pavia and Rota Research Laboratories in Italy showed excellent improvements in hospitalized arthritis patients after only three weeks.
Good for: osteoarthritis, knee cartilage problems.
Taking the supplement Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Combine with another nutrient, chrondroitin, for extra benefits. Massage glucosamine gel into the skin to relieve to relieve pain.
4. Grapefruit fiber
Research has shown grapefruit fiber can reduce cholesterol levels by 25-30 per cent in a month and it also appears to unclog blocked arteries. It is believed to contain a unique acid that de-furs the arteries, inhibits fat absorption and suppresses cholesterol production in a similar way to cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Good for: high cholesterol levels, clogged arteries.
Taking the supplement The standard dose is 5-15g a day. Consult your doctor if you are taking medication for heart disease.
5. St John’s wort (hypericum)
Known as the ‘sunshine herb’, hypericum contains a mixture of complex chemicals which seem to relieve depression by improving levels of the ‘feel-good’ hormone, serotonin in a similar way to chemical antidepressants.
Good for: mild to moderate depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and associated symptoms such as poor sleep, headaches, abnormal heart rhythms and exhaustion.
Taking the supplement: The recommended dose is 300mg of standardized extract three times a day.
Always consult your GP before taking St John’s wort.
6. Cat’s claw
In her book, British immunologist Jennifer Meek writes that this Peruvian rainforest bark, ‘is potentially a super-plant with immune-stimulating, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and antimicrobial properties.’ Patrick Holford, founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition believes cat’s claw is at least as strong as echinacea and may be even better.
Good for: colds, flu, infections, arthritis, gastric ulcers, sexually transmitted diseases and lowering blood cholesterol. May have anti-cancer properties.
Taking the supplement: One cup of the tea a day as a preventive, two cups to fight a virus. Also available as tablets or liquid. Do not take during pregnancy.
7. Co-enzyme Q10
This vitamin-like substance is needed to release energy from cells for use in all body activities. We make our own CoQ10, but production declines with age. People with heart disease often lack CoQ10, which is why in countries such as Japan and Italy it is often recommended for people with congestive heart failure.
Good for: energy levels, memory, circulation, heart function, blood pressure, gum disease and the immune system. Also a potent antioxidant.
Taking the supplement: Between 50-300mg a day.
8. Kava kava
Kava root is a member of the pepper family from the South Pacific. Clinical trials have shown that its main constituents, kava lactones, have a sedative action, comparable in effectiveness to benzodiazapines such as valium, but without the hangover effect.
Good for: insomnia, stress, jetlag, anxiety and depression and to improve well-being during the menopause. As a muscle relaxant it can benefit muscular spasms, tension and tension headaches.
Taking the supplement: Take according to directions, only for as long as you need to get the symptoms under control. Alternatively, take it for five days a week or three weeks a month. Kava taken with 500mg magnesium is more effective than taking the herb alone.
Nutritionist Jeanette Ewin PhD, author of The Foods we Need to Eat (Thorsons, £8.99) believes that certified organic spirulina, ‘may be one of the most valuable foods in the 21st century because it contains most of the nutrients we need in a balance that helps us grow and heal and it’s low in calories.’
Good for: all-round health, yeast infections, skin and hair quality, inflammation, energy levels, detoxification. Grodenski State Medical University in Russia used spirulina to detoxify children exposed to high levels of radiation. Children given five grams a day suffered less radiation sickness and fewer allergies. The US National Cancer Institute suggests it holds promise for the treatment of HIV and Aids.
Taking the supplement: Mix the powder into fresh juice in the morning. There are no toxic doses.
10. Ginkgo biloba
One of the most heavily researched plants in the world, this super antioxidant appears to delay or inhibit the ageing process. Researchers at the University of Limburg in the Netherlands reported in the Lancet in 1992 that ginkgo was as effective as a widely prescribed pharmaceutical treatment for cerebral insufficiency (reduced circulation in the brain that can lead to dementia).
Good for: improving memory, preventing, slowing the effects of senile dementia, regulating or preventing circulatory problems such as angina, stroke, thrombosis, some cases of impotence and chronic headaches. May also reduce dizziness, tinnitus, depression, vision problems.
Taking the supplement: The recommended dose is 60-120mg a day of a product that contains 24 per cent standardized extract.