Overall, good nutrition is a vital part of any senior’s health plan and certainly one of the best buys in the health insurance market. Maintaining regular activity and exercise is equally important. Drinking plenty of pure water, avoiding processed and chemical foods, and eating lots of fibre foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, are basic nutritional guidelines for staying healthy. Avoiding or minimising the use of unnecessary pharmaceutical medications and other drugs, such as nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol, is also important. Most of the above suggestions will help to prevent or slow the ageing process.
Additional antioxidant nutrients found in herbs are also a good idea. There are many herbs that may be helpful to ageing people, including ginseng root, gingko biloba, and gotu kola leaf.
Ginseng has long been used in the Orient to relieve fatigue and strengthen people. Known as the “longevity” herb, it is used regularly by elderly Chinese men and women to slow the ageing process.
As with ginseng, the root of the ginseng plant, usually Panax ginseng, is the active and commonly used part. It comes from Asian cultures, where it is used as a tonic, stimulant, and rejuvenator, especially for men with fatigue or sexual impotency. It is also used by women for fatigue and sexually related symptoms. It is often part of formulas used to balance the menstrual cycle, reduce premenstrual symptoms or hot flashes of menopause, or to improve the sex drive or enhance fertility. The most common use of ginseng is to increase energy. Research is showing that it also reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels, raises HDL, and stimulates the immune system.
Ginseng tea bags, powder, or concentrate can be used in hot water to make tea and a couple of cups drunk daily. One or two capsules of powdered ginseng root can be taken twice daily to give a feeling of greater strength.
Be aware that excessive use of ginseng root (as can licorice root) can elevate blood pressure. The trace mineral germanium has been found to be in high concentration in ginseng.
Gingko Biloba, another popular oriental herb from the leaves of one of the oldest living plant species. It has been used for centuries in the Orient for complaints associated with aging such as circulatory problems, senility and hearing disorders. An extract of the Ginkgo biloba leaves has been tested and reported to be effective at reducing ischemic symptoms – vascular insufficiency associated with ageing and atherosclerosis. Gingko biloba appears to increase cerebral blood flow and thus help oxygenation; it also may inhibit platelet aggregation. In a study of elderly patients, gingko was shown to reduce symptoms of vertigo, memory loss, tinnitus and headache. In another study of lower limb claudication symptoms, gingko helped reduce pain and improve walking tolerance over the placebo group. Anyone who takes prescription anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication or who uses over-the-counter pain killers regularly should consult a health care provider before using gingko biloba, as the combination may result in internal bleeding.
Gotu kola herb has been used as a medicine for thousands of years in India, China and Indonesia. It acts as a brain stimulant, strengthening the memory and other mental powers. It is also used for healing wounds and has a reputation for promoting longevity. Gotu kola can be taken as a tea or in capsules, by itself or with other herbs.
What herbs have you used with good success? Have you used any of these? What are your thoughts? Tell us below.