Most people are eager to learn new ways to boost their health and increase their lifespan. Of course, evidence suggests that eating a well-rounded, nutritious diet and engaging in regular exercise are two of the most important things you can do to maximize your chances of a long and healthy life. However, you may not be aware of just how many edible herbs are said to improve life expectancy. For example, some may improve cardiovascular function, while others are linked to enhanced immune system function.
Here are eleven of the most exciting examples, though be sure to check with your doctor before starting any new herbal regimens—some herbs are incompatible with certain health preexisting problems or prescribed medications.
Dandelion naturally lowers blood pressure, so it’s an ideal purchase if you’re on the cusp of a hypertension diagnosis but do not yet need anything like beta blockers or ACE inhibitors. Research also suggests that dandelion can decrease swelling, so it might help to counteract mobility impairment associated with arthritis (in turn reducing the complications of a sedentary lifestyle, such as obesity and the formation of unwanted blood clots).
Andrographis is touted as an alternative remedy for the common cold, but it may also fight more serious upper respiratory conditions that can in some cases lead to pneumonia. For example, one recently published study showed that as many as 90% of participants taking this herb experienced improvements in everything from nasal symptoms to throat swelling.
3. St. John’s wort
Famous as an alternative treatment for mild to moderate depression, St. John’s wort may also help to keep you healthy for longer due to its ability to help you sleep. It is a source of the hormone melatonin, which promotes regulation of the sleep cycle. In contrast, lack of good quality sleep is linked to decreased life expectancy and increased risk of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
Although you may not have heard of it, guggul is an herb with significant powers. It comes from the sap of a tree called the Commiphora mukul tree, and is said to reduce arterial hardening (thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases). This benefit is compounded by guggul’s ability to reduce levels of LDL (i.e. “bad”) cholesterol.
Hawthorn is another excellent remedy for high blood pressure. It appears to work by relaxing the arteries, and it also slightly slows the heartrate. Meanwhile, there is ongoing work on whether hawthorn can slow the progression of congestive heart failure, and the initial results are encouraging. However, be aware that hawthorn may not have a physical impact until it has regularly taken for 2-3 months.
While laminaria doesn’t target any chronic health problems, it does allegedly help to fight infections—and certain infections can be deadly, especially in older age. However, there are burgeoning safety concerns about laminaria, so ask your healthcare provider for more advice about whether this is an appropriate herb for you.
A wonderful addition to baked goods and tasty hot chocolates, cinnamon also helps to protect the body against two conditions that can reduce life expectancy. The first is high blood sugar levels, which are linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. The second is high cholesterol, which is a proven risk factor for heart factors and strokes. Cinnamon is one of the herbs with the most scientific backing, as the University of Maryland’s department of pharmaceutical science recently conducted promising studies suggesting that cinnamon can extend lifespan.
Another herb supported by the University of Maryland’s recent work, you might know of ginseng because of its reputation as a remedy for fatigue. However, it may also help to reduce the expression of something called amyloid, which is related to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative neurological disorders. So, if you’re interested in preserving mental life, ginseng could be an excellent addition to your medicine cabinet.
9. Horse chestnut
One of the more famous herbal treatments, horse chestnut is potentially capable of helping you to live longer by improving the condition of your blood vessels. It seems to be particularly good at strengthening veins, which may afford you some protection against common cardiovascular illnesses.
If you’re at increased risk of bleeding due to a condition that stops your blood from coagulating properly, know that cayenne is good at slowing blood flow from wounds. It boosts blood vessel elasticity (and, as a bonus, reduces the body’s sensitivity to pain). Needless to say, however, it is not an appropriate treatment for those with a predisposition to excessive clotting.
Finally, elderberry has powerful infection-fighting abilities. It is especially protective against viral infections like the flu, but it may also improve resistance to disease more broadly. This is particularly useful if you already have a weakened immune system and are more likely to get severe, dangerous symptoms from an infection.