There has been a distinct upturn in the use of, and interest in, medicinal herbs over the last couple decades. The benefits of regular use of medicinal herbs can be far reaching, and the organic nature of the plant-based supplements often make them much easier for our bodies to manage than prescription drugs.
Self-described “Baby Boomer,” and local medicinal-herb-walking-encyclopaedia, Dr. Kuni Frith has provided a mountain of information on the ways that medicinal herbs can help Bermudians in their sixties to manage their daily lives, the natural way.
“According to statistics from the NIH, in 2010, 21,088 deaths occurred as a result of opioid painkillers. In 2017, that number rose to 47,600. In 2020, a staggering 68,630 deaths occurred as a result of opioid painkillers.
“Herbal prescriptions offer a less invasive approach to addressing chronic pain conditions with little to no side effects. Herbs also have what is known as a cumulative effect; meaning the efficacy is increased with consistent use overtime.
“Some pain-relieving herbs are cayenne pepper, rosemary, cloves, Irish moss, calendula, mustard seed, and arnica. They have been scientifically researched, and proven to be beneficial regarding chronic pain conditions. These herbs can be taken as a tea, or tincture, or they can be consumed in capsule form, applied topically as a cream, or lotion, or balm, or can be applied as an essential oil. Other therapeutic companions to easing chronic pain are herbal baths, hot and cold compresses, and infrared saunas.”
Of course, chronic pain is not something that afflicts sixty-somethings alone, and there are other common age-related ailments that medicinal herbs can help to keep manageable.
“There are several herbal prescriptions capable of relieving, or reversing age-related maladies. Joint pain is a very common complaint in persons 60 years and older. Herbs such as turmeric, moringa, tulsi, ginger, aloe vera, and willow bark are regularly used to reduce joint pain and swelling around the joints.
“Brain fog, or forgetfulness, is another popular example associated with age. Hormonal changes, insomnia, stress, anxiety, along with medical conditions and medications, are viewed as being possible culprits in the case of brain fog. Herbs that can assist with cognitive decline are gotu kola, ashwagandha, gingko biloba, along with green and black teas; which work well to enhance cognitive function.
“Dehydration is another major cause for concern among older populations. The loss of electrolytes can play a crucial role in the decline of health and wellness. Proper hydration is key to restoring balance to the body/mind. Liquids such as coconut water, soups and broths, smoothies, fresh fruit and vegetable juices, and herbs high in vitamins and minerals like nettle, rubus, lemongrass, hibiscus, peppermint sage, and red clover can be extremely restorative for dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance.”
Unfortunately, aging also affects our senses. Medicinal herbs can help keep our eyes and ears feeling younger too!
“Macular degeneration, or blurred vision, is often assisted with herbs such as bilberry, eyebright, gingko biloba, and milk thistle. Tinnitus is soothed by taking gingko biloba, ashwagandha, and fenugreek.
Finally, our immune systems deteriorate over time, and the regular use of medicinal herbs can absolutely boost our vital, body-protecting immune systems.
“Maintaining stress and environmental pollutants, getting adequate sleep and exercise, and spending time in nature all help to structure a strong immune system. Immunomodulating herbs can offer relief, and assist the body in reducing heavy metal toxicity, along with other environmental pollutants.
“Science backs the efficacy of immunomodulating herbs to detoxify and restore homeostasis to the body as we age. Many drugs include immunomodulating herbs and their abstracts. Here are a few of my favorites: echinacea, spilanthes, honeysuckle, eleuthero, green, black, oolong, and white teas, astragalus, rishi, elderberry, oregano, and cayenne.”