2008’s Top Ten Natural Health Products

As 2008 comes to an end, natural products used in alternative medicine and complementary therapy treatment for health, healing and well-being have played an important role. Here we list the top ten natural health products that have helped millions of people across the world.

No.10 – CoQ10 / Coenzyme Q10
CoQ10, or Ubiquinone, is a natural substance found in the cells of animal and plant life and helps in the production of energy from food. It is important for immunity and an essential nutrient for the cardiovascular system.

People suffering with Parkinson’s disease, high cholesterol and CHF (congestive heart failure) have been found to have low levels of CoQ10. Deficiency of the coenzyme Q10 causes muscle weakness and taking a supplement can benefit cell structure helping to maintain healthy tissue. It is of particular benefit to those with CHF or people taking statin drugs to reduce cholesterol levels.

No.9 – Garlic
One of the stalwarts of natural health, garlic supplements are beneficial for infections, the heart, circulation, cholesterol, stomach and colon. Garlic has been found to reduce high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and atherosclerosis (hardened arteries) due to its blood thinning effects. Garlic is also a popular treatment for colds, flu and infections.

The latest research on garlic has been into its cancer preventing properties. Consumption of allium vegetables such as onions and garlic were found to have an effect on decreasing the rate of colon and stomach cancers (possibly by inhibiting the formation of tumours) while other studies are looking into its effects on stimulating the immune system and protecting the liver.

No.8 – Chondroitin
Similar to Glucosamine, Chondroitin is a natural chemical in the body used to make cartilage (the shock absorbing compound in-between the joints). People with osteoarthritis suffer thinning of the cartilage which causes the bones in the joint to rub together, this leads to pain, swelling and difficulty moving. Chondroitin supplements have been found to help pain relief and improve cartilage function and is typically taken in conjunction with glucosamine.

No.7 – Ginkgo Biloba
Probably one of the most studied herbs on the planet, Ginkgo Biloba has powerful antioxidant properties that come from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree. Best known for improving cognitive function, this herb has been used to help prevent and treat dementia and boost brain power in healthy adults.

Recent evidence suggests Ginkgo also aids circulation and may help to reduce cardiovascular diseases and arterial diseases that lead to eye and ear disorders.

No.6 – Herbal Remedies (combined herbs)
There are many individual herbs that are worthy of mention in out top ten list but some of the most beneficial results have been found when herbs have been combined. Various ingredients within a remedy or pill can have an additive effect on health that individual compounds alone may not. For instance, many herbs can aid inflammation but a combination of inflammatory treating herbs can produce even better results.

Combined herbal remedies can treat a variety of conditions from anxiety to the common cold. Getting the dosage right is key to an effective herbal therapy treatment so visit a trained herbal medicine practitioner for the best and safest results.

No.5 – Ginseng
Ginseng is a herb from the ginseng plant (there are many types including American, Chinese and Korean) and is used to fight off illness, boost immunity and act as general product for improving well-being. Ginseng is most commonly used for stress relief. The herb has been found to support glands that produce stress hormones helping to alleviate anxiety and stress-related conditions.

Ginseng has also been found to increase physical, mental and sexual performance. Recent studies into panex ginseng (Chinese or Korean types) have found the herb to have a mild effect on men who suffer with impotence as it can marginally increase testosterone levels and sperm production. Eleuthero ginseng (American and Siberian types) has been studied for its effects on people with type 2 diabetes as an effect blood sugar control.

No.4 – Flaxseed
Flaxeed, available as an oil or in pill form, is seen as a vegetarian alternative to fish oil as it also contains omega-3 essential fatty acids. However, the type of omega-3 that flaxeed contains differs from fish oil omega-3.

Flaxeed contains alpha-linolenic acid, the parent essential fatty acid to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish oil. Flaxeed has benefits such as anti-inflammatory properties and can be beneficial to women who suffer PMS or are pre-menopausal. Flaxeed can also help asthma sufferers as well as being part of a diet for someone looking to lose weight. Flaxeed shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for omega-3s found in oily fish.

No. 3 – Echinacea
Has there been more debate about the benefits of echinacea than any other natural product? Probably not, but the numbers who use this extract from the root and flowers of the purpurea, angustifolia and pallida will testify to the results they’ve received on prevention and treatment of infections to the upper respiratory tract and the common cold.

Containing flavonoids, glycoproteins and other active compounds that stimulate the immune system, echinacea is a herbal remedy that has been found to cut the risk of a cold by up to 50%.

No.2 – Glucosamine
Already mentioned alongside Chondroitin, Glucosamine is a natural compound found in the cartilage that sits in-between the joints of the body to prevent bones rubbing together. Glucosamine has been recommended for people suffering with osteoarthritis and the prevention of arthritis by helping to keep cartilage healthy.

No.1 – Fish Oil
Probably the most popular natural health product on the market today is fish oil. Containing omega-3 essential fatty acids, this oil can be taken as part of a healthy diet that contains oily fish such as sardines or within fish oil capsules.

Fish oils can help keep the heart and brain healthy and help with inflammatory conditions such as IBS, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Current studies are also looking into its effects on conditions such as asthma, ADHD and depression. Fish oil’s benefits on the cardiovascular system and are certainly without debate.

Visit a trained holistic health practitioner in 2009

So there you have out top ten natural health products for the year. If you want more information on how these and many more products that can help with your health and well-being, visit a trained alternative medicine and complementary therapy practitioner. Herbal Medicine, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine and Homeopathy may be of particular interest when considering natural health products.

Learn more about therapies and find a therapist here

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