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4 Natural Supplements Strong as Medicines

For millennia, societies around the world have relied on natural supplements to meet their health needs.

Despite modern-day medical and technological advancements, the global market for natural supplements is on the rise.

That’s said, some natural supplements are as strong as medicines, but these supplements are not subject to the same scientific scrutiny because the FDA does not regulate them as pharmaceutical products.

For example, herbal supplement manufacturers need to follow excellent manufacturing practices to ensure that supplements meet quality requirements.

Here are four natural supplements as strong as medicines.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric is a popular spice known for its bright yellow color that is used in many South Asian dishes. People in India have been using this herb for thousands of years for medicinal purposes.

The main active substance in turmeric is curcumin, which is a widely researched herb. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties that can block an inflammatory molecule called NF-kB.

Some studies show its effects are as strong as those of anti-inflammatory medicines, with no significant side effects.

According to one study, 500 mg of curcumin per day was as efficient as the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac in people with rheumatoid arthritis (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

There are also countless other health benefits of turmeric. It is a strong antioxidant that can boost heart health and help prevent diseases such as cancer.

Some studies show curcumin may aid in the prevention of depression and can work like some antidepressant medicines.

Usually, the body cannot absorb curcumin. Therefore, it is best to use a supplement that contains a substance called piperine.

Piperine is an alkaloid present in black pepper (Piper nigrum), which has been shown to increase curcumin absorption in the bloodstream by 2,000 percent.

Thus, you can also add black pepper to your turmeric recipe to increase its efficiency (7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

2. Garlic

Garlic is another common ingredient that has been used for thousands of years for its strong medicinal properties. The active compound in garlic is allicin, which is good for heart health.

Studies show that garlic can decrease total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol by an average of 10–15%. Aged garlic extract can reduce blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, renal diseases, and premature death.

The effects of aged garlic extract were like some medicines. Garlic also seems to increase the function of the immune system and fight the common cold.

For example, it decreased the cold by 63% and the length of cold symptoms by 70% (12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20).

3. Red Yeast Rice

Statin is one of the world’s most prescribed drugs, used to lower cholesterol levels. The extract inhibits cholesterol production in your liver, resulting in lower levels of blood cholesterol.

Interestingly, this fermented rice extract, called red yeast rice, can have comparable effects. It contains small quantities of monacolin K, which is the active ingredient in the Lovastatin statin drug.

According to a review of 93 studies, red yeast rice reduced cholesterol by an average of 34 mg, LDL (bad) cholesterol by 28 mg, and triglycerides by 35 mg, while improving HDL (good) cholesterol by 6 mg (21, 22, 23).

Another study comprising 5,000 people in China who had experienced heart attacks, red yeast rice reduced their risk of heart attacks by 45% and the risk of dying during the study period by 33%.

However, people who are allergic to fungus or yeast should avoid using red yeast rice extract (24).

4. Berberine

Berberine is extracted from certain plants, such as European barberry, goldenseal, goldthread, Oregon grape, phellodendron, and tree turmeric.

It is a chemical that has a bitter taste and a yellow color that is used to strengthen the heartbeat, which may help those suffering from certain heart diseases.

Scientists believe these effects are because of various mechanisms.

Studies show berberine can decrease the output of glucose in your liver, enhance insulin sensitivity; the effects are almost similar to those of metformin, which is a common blood sugar-lowering medicine (25, 26, 27, 28, 29).

The study also showed berberine reduced fasting blood sugar levels by 20% and HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c), a marker for long-term blood sugar levels, by 12%.

In addition, berberine also improved other health indicators such as triglycerides, blood pressure, and LDL (bad) cholesterol, which can reduce heart disease risks.

Berberine has antibacterial effects that may protect against cancer. While berberine effects are strong as medicine, use it with caution and consult with your doctor if you are taking berberine supplements (30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35).

Conclusion

Supplements can never substitute for a healthy lifestyle.

However, some natural supplements are strong as medicines and should be consumed carefully.

The extract might interfere with other blood pressure and thyroid medications, as well as any other medicines and vitamins you may be using.

Whatever your health condition, always consult your doctor before using supplements.

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