Anti-aging herbs and spices are relative to what is being "aged", ie., Which of our systems. For the alcohol abuser it's the liver, for females but not males, it may be the reproductive system, and for those with a family history of dementia it may be the brain. When we focus on anti aging herbs and spices we need to decide what is it we are worried about and then direct our energies to that concern. The distinction between herbs and spices is what part of the plant is being used.
Here is a short list of herbs and spices specific to the issues associated with aging. Also it's good practice to remember that one can also overcome the aging process not solely by herb and spice consumption or substitution, as much as by eliminating harmful plants or foods such as alcohol, excess salt and sugar which occurs when herbs are used as seasonings or flavorings.
With the brain a major consideration is blood flow since this one organ demands the most blood of any organ. Anything that impedes blood flow or reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients is detrimental to the brain. When blood is thinner and not heavy or thick then more blood flows faster and easier to the heart then keeping brain cells alive and well. With that in mind the below are recommended:
Gingko – ( Ginkgo biloba )
It is one of the top 5 medications prescribed in Germany to improve memory, improve attention span and memory as well as increase blood flow through the brain as a blood thinner. There are over 400 studies published on its efficiency and many of the studies have a target group over age 50.
Gotu kola – ( Centella asiatica )
Often used to improve memory and has been cited as being able to overcome stress and fatigue. Steven Foster in his book, Steven's Foster Guide To Herbal Dosages, has broken out what dosage to use and what type compound to be aware of for effective clinical response.
Milk Thistle – ( Silybum marianum )
For over 2,000 years this herb has been reportedly used for liver malfunction. The liver, being a filtering organ, is affected by reducing the quantity and types of harmful chemicals allowed to enter the organ. It is used to stimulate new liver cells which is a characteristic of this organ to reproduce and has been known to be an effective anti-oxidant which limits the toxic effects of oxidants.
Dandelion – ( Taraxacum officinale )
In animals it has been shown to increase bile production which is a digestive enzyme that helps aid in digestion. By helping increase the digestability of consumed foods the work of the liver as a cleanser is reduced. The effects of the leaves and flowers for the liver is not known at this time.
Black Cohosh – ( Cimicifuga racemosa )
For women this herb has been known to reduce the severity of hot flashes and improve mood, also used for depression and to improve sleep. Primarily believed to affect beneficially ovarian function during menopause.
Saw Palmetto – ( Serenoa repens )
For men this herb has been used to prevent prostrate conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) a preventative herb.
Garlic – ( Allium sativum )
What more is there to say about this wonderful root herb? Known to reduce bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure and as a blood thinner. There are many forms of garlic preparations and one should consider the dosages carefully and choose products with approved constituent ingredients in the formulas. Garlic is a great herb to use for food seasonings in many dishes.
Hawthorn – ( Crataegus spp.)
Shown to improve blood flow to the heart muscles itself which then improves the heart's ability to pump more blood into the circulatory venous and arterial system. Used after heart attacks and as a supplement for those suffering from congestive heart failure. As with all herbs one should not use Hawthorn extract with other medications and only upon disclosure to the treating physician.
Information in this article is derived from, and we recommend, The Herb Companion as a source of valid information often using the search by the American Botanical Council and Stephen Foster.
For more information on specific herbs refer to the HerbFest web site.