There are handful of supplements — like saw palmetto, garlic, black cohosh or probiotics — that get heavy attention in the popular media because of the healthful effects they can have on conditions like prostate growth, cardiac trouble, menopause or poor digestion. While these supplements certainly deserve their laurels, there are others available that are just as effective at treating a variety of conditions but which many people do not know about. Some of these less-publicized supplements are discussed below.
Selenium does not receive as much popular media attention as other nutrients and many people may not even realize how integral a part it plays in human health. Its largest role is in boosting the body’s immune system: in combination with Vitamin E, it helps to fight off the damage caused by free radicals and can help reduce the risk of certain cancers, particularly of the colon, prostate and lungs.
Chasteberry has been used medicinally for centuries in the West, and modern science is finding evidence to justify this use. Research has shown that this is a fantastic “women’s herb” to balance hormones. In many parts of Europe, this plant is used to treat symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome, the onset of menopause, fibrosis of the breast and may be useful in certain kinds of infertility.
This combination of niacin and inositol is readily tolerated and absorbed by the body and is a potent treatment to lower cholesterol levels. This property has long been known, but some forms of niacin cause unpleasant side effects like flushing, hot flashes or issues with the liver. In studies out of Nashville Integrated Medicine, however, it was found that inositol hexaniacinate could lower cholesterol while reducing the risk for hot flashes and hepatoxicity in particular, and can have benefits comparable to prescription-strength statin drugs.
This rare mushroom is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to relive fatigue and cough and to help treat sexual disorders. Apart from having strong antioxidant properties, it is thought that its ability to increase circulation throughout the body is one of the reasons it is such an effective treatment for this. Laurie Steelsmith, a naturopathic doctor out of Honolulu, considers it to be a potent sexual tonic for women.
This supplement is derived from tryptophan and is converted in the body to serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of calm and well-being. Because of this property, 5-HTP is used to treat a number of disorders, including depression and general anxiety and stress. Because it helps the body to utilize serotonin in a natural way, it also help promote and lengthen sleep and is thus also used to combat insomnia.
All of the supplements discussed above have been shown to help give people relief from a variety of conditions ranging from the mild to the severe. While they are not as well-known as some, these supplements are still available at health food stores and some naturopathic or mainstream pharmacies and are worth investigating, although consulting with a medical practitioner before beginning any new medicine is always a good idea.