Bacopa monnieri, a plant commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, has an age-old reputation for being an effective and powerful herb helpful for memory and combating stress. Bacopa monnieri, known to most as Brahmi, acts as an adaptogen; which means it helps the body adapt to new or stressful situations. The following 9 facts show the power and versatility of this therapeutic plant.
Supports the Brain
As people age, it’s common for age-related brain degradation to happen. The active compounds in bacopa, known as bacosides, are beginning to be evaluated for their effects on the brain and human health. Some research has shown the compounds in bacopa topositively influence brain cells that prompt the regeneration of brain tissue. In one animal study, long-term supplementation with bacosides showed therapeutic value against the rapid degeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Hopefully more will continue to explore its potential benefits for brain health.
Promotes Liver Health
The brain is not the only organ that benefits from bacopa’s health-promoting compounds. The liver is the body’s main detoxifying organ, and studies suggest bacopa may be useful for encouraging liver function following toxin damage. With the daily onslaught of toxins in our environment and food, it’s no wonder so many seek safe, natural compounds that support proper liver function.
Protection Against Neonatal Hypoglycemia
When it comes to newborn infants, low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can result in serious and immediate brain damage, inducing future motor and cognitive impairment. Studies have found bacosides to be highly-active compounds that exhibit neuron-protecting effects in hypoglycemic infants. Therefore, many researchers believe that bacopa extracts may be effective for protecting newborn brains against hypoglycemia-induced brain damage.
Positively Impacts Opioid Dependence
Doctors prescribe (and sometimes over-prescribe) opioids, like morphine and oxycodone, for pain management. Although these drugs are effective, their highly-addictive nature is a massive downside. Seventy-seven percent of chronic pain patients also suffer from depression and face an added risk of addiction. Researchers have discovered that bacosides may be helpful for enhancing the benefits of morphine while reducing the “high”, thus decreasing the risk for dependence. In addition, studies indicate that bacosides offer protective benefits for organs commonly affected by opiate toxicity.
Fights Systemic Redness and Swelling
Any illness or irritation can cause redness and swelling in the body. No location more dangerous than the brain. Bacopa may be helpful at fighting this. Research supports its use for managing systemic redness in the brain caused by the body’s autoimmune response . Much of the research is ongoing; however, the emerging data offers hope for new therapies in the treatment of chronic discomfort and redness.
Encourages Normal Blood Pressure
Bacopa has been shown to increase the utilization of nitric oxide in the body and also appears to encourage vascular muscle function, two benefits that positively influence normal blood pressure. While promoting normal blood pressure is not one of bacopa’s most well-known uses, the herb may still provide a valuable, natural approach to those seeking this benefit.
Strong Antioxidant Activity
Antioxidants… can we get too many of them? Many researchers are evaluating natural plants, herbs, and foods for their antioxidant potential and findings indicate that bacopa is a good one. It provides protection against oxidative damage, a type of cellular damage caused by free radicals. The herb has also been shown to enhance antioxidant activity in other organs, like the kidneys.
Most of the medical research on chaga has been done in Russia where the mushroom grows in abundance as it prefers cold climate forests. Chaga mushroom is an adaptogen. Adaptogenic plants and mushrooms help to bring the body back into balance and have beneficial effects on the nervous system, immune system, the GI tract, the cardiovascular system and the endocrine system. By supporting the body and mind in these ways, adaptogens help us to cope with stress, stay healthy during the cold and flu season, fight cancer, and lift us out of the dark depths of depression and adrenal burnout. They have immune-modulating properties that make them helpful in treating auto-immune diseases and have high levels of anti-oxidants that protect cells from damaging free radicals. Adaptogens gently tone and support the body systems over time and need to be taken for a minimum time of two months to develop the full effect of their healing powers.
Balances the immune system, optimizes the natural resistance against diseases and infections
Chaga is a natural BRM (Biological Response Modifier). It not only stimulates the body’s immune function when necessary, but can also slow it down when it’s overactive. In short, it will normalize the immune function, what classifies Chaga as an adaptogenic. The beta-glucans appear to be mainly responsible for that property, but many researchers believe it is actually the synergy between several, if not all constituents that is responsible for the full range of this adaptogenic action. Because of this property Chaga can be used to neutralize the side effects of pharmaceuticals, to compensate the age-related decline of our immune function, to neutralize genetic immune-disorders (like many auto-immune diseases) and, in general, to help us to deal with all the stresses of modern life. Stress(mental, physical, chemical, environmental – the change of seasons, urban life, pollution, etc..- ) has an enormous negative impact on our resistance.
These properties are linked to the immune supporting properties, of course. Apart from that, the antioxidants in Chaga can have a positive effect on inflammations. Betulinic acid (a unique component of Chaga) is currently being researched for its anti-HIV properties.
Anti-ulcer, anti-gastritis properties
In folk medicine, Chaga was used often to treat gastritis and related gastrointestinal problems. Again, the immune support of Chaga plays an important role here, both in treating and prevention of these problems, but betulinic acid and the phytosterols present in Chaga also play a role. Most ulcers are caused by bacteria such as Helicobacter pylori. A well functioning immune system will be able to deal with this pathogen.
Anti-cancer adjuvant – decreases the side effects of chemo-therapy and other aggressive medication
Chaga has proven to be very effective in supporting standard cancer treatments such as chemo-therapy and radiation. It can compensate the devastating effect these treatments can have on the immune system (causing side effects like nausea, insomnia, poor appetite, fatigue, etc. – these side effects are often the result of a compromized immune function.) It helps preventing metastasis (cancer cells traveling through the bloodstream should be neutralized by the immune system before they can cause harm). Chaga can significantly contribute to the quality of life during and after treatment this way.
Furthermore, research suggests that Chaga itself might have a anti-cancer potential, in particular during the early stages of cancer. The betulinic acid and some of the phytosterols present showed the ability to kill cancer cells directly. How this works exactly is the subject of several theories. So, Chaga has both an indirect (by stimulating the immune system to battle cancer-cells) and potentially a direct (by causing apoptosis [=programmed cell death]) effect during cancer treatments. Anti-tumor activity was only found in extracts prepared by lengthy heating or decocting, infusions prepared by steeping the raw material where not active against the tested tumors.
Anti-oxidant properties, revitalizing, anti-aging
A high quality extract should include the sclerotium ( the black outside layer ) of the Chaga. This is important, because this sclerotium contains a massive amount of a specific fungi-melanin, giving good extracts a very high level of anti-oxidants and turning Chaga into powerful anti-aging tool. Research showed DNA-regenerating and re-vitalizing properties. The whole body will benefit from this; you will look better (skin and hair) and your organs will function better.
Antioxidant power can be expressed in an ORAC-value (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity).
Normalizes cholesterol levels, beneficial for the cardiovascular system, supports healthy blood pressure
Research showed betulinic acid (a compound unique to Chaga) to be able to break down ‘bad’ cholesterol in the bloodstream. Besides that the ß-glucans, part of the polysaccharides in Chaga also have a proven positive effect on cholesterol levels. By normalizing those levels Chaga contributes to lowering high blood pressure and promotes a healthy cardio-vascular system: less plaque, stronger arteries.
No side effects and no contra indications
One of the many benefits of using a full-spectrum Chaga extract is that it has no side effects at all. Chaga is merely stimulating the body to heal itself. There is no potential disturbance of the body’s chemical and hormonal balance. This makes medicinal mushrooms like Chaga the ideal supplement for
only contra-indication are immune suppressing medicines (e.g. cyclosporin containing products, used after a transplant). Never use medicinal mushroom extracts together with this type of medication – the immune modulating effect might neutralize its working.
Gotu Kola grows widely throughout Central Asia and parts of Africa and is native to China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and various islands in the South Pacific. It’s a small green plant similar on a genetic level to carrots that thrives in wet areas and is used in much the same way as one might use cilantro or parsley in the West. Many health conscious locals add Gotu Kola leaves to salads as a general life-enhancing tonic and preventative. So the story goes, Sri Lankans noticed elephants regularly eating leaves of the plant, and after trying it themselves, discovered the quite noticeable and profound effects it had on memory and lifespan, which gives credence to the fact that the elephant has been mythologically associated with these qualities throughout human history.
Gotu kola is an herb that is commonly used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. The above-ground parts are used to make medicine.
Gotu kola is used to treat bacterial, viral, or parastitic infections such as urinary tract infection (UTI), shingles, leprosy, cholera, dysentery, syphilis, the common cold, influenza, H1N1 (swine) flu, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, and schistosomiasis.
Gotu kola is also used for fatigue, anxiety, depression, psychiatric disorders,Alzheimer’s disease, and improving memory and intelligence. Other uses include wound healing, trauma, and circulation problems (venous insufficiency) including varicose veins, and blood clots in the legs.
Some people use gotu kola for sunstroke, tonsillitis, fluid around the lungs (pleurisy),liver disease (hepatitis), jaundice, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), stomach pain, diarrhoea, indigestion, stomach ulcers, epilepsy, asthma, “tired blood” (anemia),diabetes, and for helping them live longer.
Some women use gotu kola for preventing pregnancy, absence of menstrual periods, and to arouse sexual desire.
Gotu kola is sometimes applied to the skin for wound healing and reducing scars, includiung stretch marks caused by pregnancy.
Of particular interest in our fast-paced, intellectually demanding modern world is Gotu Kola’s ability to enhance nearly every aspect of mental functioning. Typically herbs or substances that can achieve such feats are highly stimulating; however, Gotu Kola is centering, which makes it ideal for anyone looking for a cognitive boost without any of the unwanted and imbalancing side effects of stimulants. In one study, children who took a half a gram of Gotu Kola extract powder every day for one year demonstrated significant improvement of their intellectual level. After six months, there was a substantial improvement in intelligence, cognitive function and concentration.
Ganoderma lucidum is a large, woody, and tough mushroom used for various herbal remedies. More commonly known as reishi or lingzhi, this mushroom may have beneficial effects on the immune system, cardiovascular system and prostate gland. Although ganoderma extract is generally safe and most side effects are mild, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center cautions that many of its claimed uses are for serious diseases. People should obtain medical attention in addition to using ganoderma extract to treat serious illness, and consult with a physician about possible interactions of ganoderma with medication.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
Ganoderma extract improves lower urinary tract symptoms in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, according to the MSKCC. The extract inhibits an enzyme involved in this disorder. BPH causes symptoms of frequent urges to urinate, nighttime urination, decreased urinary flow and incomplete bladder emptying.
Immune System Stimulant
Some patients with HIV/AIDS or cancer use ganoderma extract to boost the immune system, as noted by the MSKCC. This extract can stimulate production of various types of white blood cells that help prevent and fight against infection, and people with HIV or undergoing chemotherapy are more susceptible to infectious disease. Ganoderma also increases antioxidant activity in plasma, beneficial because antioxidants eliminate free radicals that can cause cell damage. Additionally, ganoderma has anti-tumor properties, according to the MSKCC.
Ganoderma has blood-thinning properties; it inhibits platelet aggregation. This can be beneficial for people with increased risk of blood clots. The component adenosine may be responsible for this effect, as explained by the MSKCC. Adenosine also normalizes irregular heart rhythms. In products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, adenosine is a prescription drug for certain cardiovascular problems.
Another effect of adenosine is widening arteries, which may help lower high blood pressure. The University of Maryland Medical Center calls evidence for this effect “weak” and recommends consulting with a doctor before taking ganoderma for high blood pressure. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Ganoderma extract may help strengthen the body and provide blood pressure support for people with endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner lining of the heart and heart valves. The UMMC warns that people with this serious condition should obtain medical treatment rather than relying solely on ganoderma as a remedy.
Ganoderma also may be helpful as a treatment for Lyme disease, according to the UMMC. Lyme disease is the most common tick-caused illness in the United States and often is not diagnosed until it causes chronic arthritis. A smaller percentage of patients with Lyme disease develop heart abnormalities and neurological symptoms. Ganoderma may be beneficial as an addition to antibiotic therapy.
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