It reflects all the changes that take place over the course of life.
We cannot stop or reverse ageing, but we can influence how well we live into our “twilight years”.
As we age the normal processes of inflammation and oxidative stress contribute to gradual decline in health. Inflammation is a natural part of the immune response to fight infection and repair damage from injuries. However ongoing or chronic inflammation is linked to many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, liver disease, arthritis, and dementia.
So how do we help ourselves to live a long, healthy life?
Beyond the food we eat, here are some special herbs that can support us to age well:
One of the best adaptogenic and tonic herbs, withania (also known as ashwagandha) is my choice for supporting health into the elder years. A traditional Indian herb renowned for relieving stress and anxiety, promoting sound sleep and increasing energy. It can increase blood haemoglobin and serum iron levels helping to resolve anaemia.
Traditionally used in the Ayurvedic medical system of India.
The main active ingredient, curcumin, is a potent antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. Think of turmeric as a whole-body cleanser. Useful for joint inflammation, digestive complaints, to support healthy cell formation, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease. It also supports phase I and II of liver detoxification.
One of the problems associated with ageing is damage to the retina of the eye which leads to vision impairment. Research has shown that bilberry helps prevent degeneration. It supports the fine micro-circulation found in the eye and other bodily tissues - used for healing, macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and varicose veins (especially after surgery).
Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba)
An ancient tree from China that has being growing on our planet for about 200 million years. Research has shown that Ginkgo can protect and enhance brain cells and there are numerous studies and clinical trials in the use of Ginkgo for Alzheimer’s disease. It is a great herb for dizziness and vertigo. It also helps to strengthen arterial walls and prevent blood clots.
Often referred to as the “Fountain of Youth”, ginseng has been used for thousands of years by the Chinese. This herb gives energy and increases vitality, both mentally and physically and restores strength, especially after illness or injury. It is regularly used by people over 50 in China to revitalise the ‘life force” and maintain health.
It is an expensive herb, so you could consider taking Siberian ginseng which has similar benefits.
A tonic for the heart. Hawthorn has been used by herbalists for well over a hundred years to support the functioning of the heart. Another plant which is high in antioxidants, both the berry and leaf are used. It can be used to support healthy blood pressure, cardiac arrythmias, prevent heart attacks, angina, and improve circulation. Hawthorn strengthens a tired (ageing) heart.
The preventative effects of green tea on the development of cancer have been widely studied. It is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants which neutralise damaging free radicals.
Green and black tea may also help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Research has also shown that drinking green tea can protect the skin from sun damage… goodbye wrinkles!
A good alternative choice to coffee as it has only small amounts of caffeine and gives longer lasting energy.
On your quest for the “fountain of youth”, don’t forget to have plenty of exercise, clean water, quality sleep, emotional and spiritual fulfillment and keep a healthy social life.
Some of these herbs have cautions with use, so check first with your Herbalist or Natural Health Practitioner.