Setter's Seven Simple (Herbal) Supplements
Strengthen, Support and Sustain Your Second Wind
Disclaimer: As with any health information, you must use caution before taking any substances. This report is strictly for information purposes and should not take the place of medical advice. Always consult your health professional prior to taking supplements or herbal remedies.
As a sick kid, I was always interested in getting healthier and stronger. I began to ask myself, “What makes some cultures healthier, stronger, more vigorous and even smarter than most other countries?” For instance, the Masai tribesmen, who walked 70 miles at a time and, at one time, killed lions as a rites of passage, ate mostly cattle blood mixed with milk (and a few herbs). Thousands of miles away, the long-living Japanese ate mostly fish, rice and seaweed (and also a few herbs). Still other cultures remained vigorous and healthy from consuming large amounts of vegetables and grains (and...oh yeah, some herbs).
Every healthy culture has their own kind of “folk medicine,” which includes home remedies and herbs. These herbs were so potent from concentrations of vitamins, minerals and rare substances that they can effect huge changes in energy, inflammation, mental clarity, sexuality, recovery, moods, sleep and immunity.
If this sounds far-fetched, consider how the human body requires a minimum of 1,000 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B12. Deficiencies of this essential vitamin can cause anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite and weight-loss and numbness and tingling in hands and feet, as well as depression, confusion, poor memory and dementia.
You might think “So what? How small is 1,000 mcg?”
1,000 mcg = 1 milligram = 1/1000th of the weight of one gram. Now, one gram, on its own is about the weight of a single paper clip, a U.S. Dollar bill or a raisin. Now, imagine a raisin chopped up into 1,000 pieces. One of those almost microscopic specks would be a milligram. This tiny amount of Vitamin B12 is the absolute smallest daily requirement for good health.
If that does not sound incredible enough, consider the tiny amount of venom from a black widow spider that causes cramping, sweating and rapid heart rate in a full-grown adult. You can barely see the spider's fangs with a magnifying glass, let alone the droplet of venom.
This is why near-invisible amounts of herbal micro-nutrients can also make huge changes in a person's health and performance. This is especially true if a person has had deficiencies for most of their lives and has suffered from: allergies, under-weight, obesity, depression, mental confusions, addictions, colds, inflammation, sleeplessness, fatigue, weakness and even and eating disorders.
In my late thirties, after serving on a peacekeeping tour of the former Yugoslavia, I started getting up in the middle of the night six or seven times to urinate, getting mood swings, fatigue and a “who cares” attitude. I had lost insterest in former enjoyable activities, was often tired and sometimes could not focus or even make a simple decision.
After years of researching, asking health professionals, ageing athletes and martial artists and self-experimenting, I found seven herbs that improved my health and performance for over two decades. I was able to run full marathons, earn a Bachelor's degree, win a welterweight kick-boxing championship (age 40), climb Mt. Rainier (age 47) and father a child (age 51).
I found that consuming a few natural herbs, including certain weeds, could:
· Improve mood and concentration
· Sky rocket my recovery rate
· Increase my endurance and recovery
· Kick-start my libido
· Lessen inflammation
· Power boost my immune system
So, without further ado, here is Setter's Seven Super (Herbal) Supplements:
Courtesy of Creative Commons & National Institute of Korean Language
Ginseng is often called, “man root,” because it looks man-shaped. It can vary like the makes of car. The American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) contains the medical substance: ginsenosides. According to Chinese medicine, Amercian ginseng is considered a “cooling,” calming herb1. (Some American ginseng sells for $2,300 per pound to the Asian market[i].) Meanwhile, Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), often called Korean ginseng, also contians ginsenosides, is considered a “hot” stimulant and is an adaptogenic (stabilizing) herb2. Then, Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is not really ginseng at all, but contains possible immune-stimulating eleutherosides and not ginseonsides.
The ginseng root, which takes six years to grow, is white when harvested. When it is sun-dried, it remains white and when steam cured, then dried, it turns red and is more concentrated that its original form.
I first discovered ginseng, while in my twenties. I started taking a mixture of B vitamins, vitamin E and ginseng and noticed an improvement of my running endurance and mental clarity. Since then, I have read studies that suggest that ginseng may protect the heart and reduce risk of: stroke, menopausal symptoms (including depression), inflammation and and depression. I can personally vouch for ginseng's ability to increase my energy and concentration as well as stimulate my immune system against colds and influenza.
A former kung fu sifu (instructor) once told me about how the South Korean girls would give him a ginseng drink to prolong his sexual endurance.
Ginseng is a good energizer when you are mentally and physically exhausted. I have used it to help me through hard training and studies. One time I went with some friends on a hike up a trail called, Unnecessary Mountain in North Vancouver. It is a steep, difficult hike that takes about seven to eight hours round trip. One of the other hikers was feeling hungover, so I carried his back pack, dropped it off at their campsite and headed back to my car. I was near exhausted by the time that I had reached the parking lot. I drove straight home and fell asleep. Still tired on the following day, I went to a sparring session at a Wing Chun kung fu club. By then, I was so fatigued that my muscles were shaking.
On my way home, I stopped to see a friend who was well trained in martial arts, healing and herbs. Looking at me, he made some comment and mixed up a cup of an Asian ginseng drink and gave it to me. I drank it and within a couple of hours felt much better. By the following day, I felt energized with most of my muscle pain gone. I was a born again believer in the power of good quality ginseng.
Personally, I found that the trick to taking either Asian or Siberian ginseng was to take it every day or second day for three weeks and take a week off. Avoid taking after 6 p.m. And definitely notbefore bedtime. (Though I must admit, it did seem to work for me when I intended to stay awake.) The safe dosage was about a teaspoon of powdered root to a cup of water. (Some people may disagree with me on this.)
Photograph courtesy of Creative Commons & FreeFoto.com
Even as a kid, I always liked cooking and eating food that had garlic in it. (It occasionally made me unpopular, but what the heck). I always liked the flavor and was amazed at how many different cultures throughout the world used garlic for flavor and medicine.
Garlic contains anit-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal substances such as allicin, sulfur compounds (diallyl sulfide and thiacremonone) and the
strong antioxidant, selenium. Selenium has proven protection against environmental poisons and reportedly protects the prostrate gland in men.
In the book: Doctor Duke's Essential Herbs[ii], the good doctor describes garlic as being able to:
· Lower blood pressure and cholesterol
· Protect the liver against toxins, pharmacueticals, heavy metals and even alcohol.
· Boost the immune system
· Treat: allergy, angina, asthma, bronchitits, burns and suburn, cancer, colds and flu, dabetes, earache, fungal infections, HIV, leukemia and lyphoma, sinusitis, ulcers, and yeast infections. (A female friend reported success using garlic to treat the latter condition.)
· Inhibit colon cancer growth
The sulfur compounds in the garlic help protect against inflammation, so it can reduce the occurance of arthritis and various inflammation conditions such as: allergies, ulcers and arthritis. The sulfur compounds also help the liver cleanse itself.
As for the folklore of garlic repelling vampires, there is some truth to the matter. During a trip to Panama, Dr. James Duke described how the locals taught him to rub garlic on his feet so as not to get bitten by vampire bats. After following the Panamians' lead, the 70 year old botanist reported that he was not bothered by vampires, neither bat or the human kind.
While I served in the Canadian army, I was able to reduce the number of mosquito bites by heavy consumption of garlic. Some of my fellow soldiers did not like the smell of the garlic, but then again, neither did the mosquitoes.
By the way, if your peers or dates do not like the smell of garlic, drink lemon juice to quel the smell. Or entice them into eating garlic as well.
Raw garlic can be too strong to eat. Light cooking will remove the smell. But, over cooking (to charcoal black) will remove the benefits.
I prefer the large locally grown bulbs from local farms. They cost more. But, have a fresher taste. Whereas, most of the imported garlic are irridiated to kill off pathegens, prolong shelf life and prevent people from growing their own garlic. According to the Gourmet Garlic website (http://www.gourmetgarlicgardens.com/preserving-garlic.html) the radiation kills the garlic and removes the essential sulfur. Apparently, if you slice the garlic clove vertically and see a light green spike, then the garlic is still “alive” with sulfur. If the spike is brown, then the garlic is “dead” and lacking sulphur.
Photograph courtesy of freefoodphotos.com
The next “G” herb is Ginger, another cheap, common herb that I like using in cooking and home cures. When the flu season comes around, I drink plenty of tea made with ginger, lemon and honey.
I use this handy herb in a variety of cooking dishes, including the pickled ginger served in Japanese restaurants. I have boiled it up and used it as a compress on sprained joints and have read that it is good externally for muscle pains and swelling.
Ginger also makes a fermented drink like ginger beer. The alcohol extracts the healing properties of the herb and acts as an effective “delivery system” to the body, which can reduce nausea and inflammation.
A friend of mine used to grind up ginger root and eat it raw! She never seemed to get sick and, even though in her late 50's, she was constantly mentally and physically active. I do not care much for the raw, uncooked ginger root. Instead, I blend some raw ginger with lemon and some greens, like kale, steamed broccoli or commercially produced “greens” formula in a smoothie.
There are scientific studies on ginger and the anti-nauseaous effects on lab animals. In one study lab animals were deliberately given ipecac to induce vomiting. Those rats that were fed ginger did not throw up.
For humans, 1-1.5 grams (1/2 to 3/4 tsp) of ginger is the usual dosage to help prevent naseau from sea sickness, morning sickness, post-surgery and even chemotherapy[iii]. Pregnant women should not take more. However, your average person can handle larger amounts.
Like garlic, ginger has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can be eaten fresh, cooked, prepared as an extract (ginger soaked in alcohol) or made into a tea.
In a controlled trial of 247 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who took ginger extract had less pain and required less pain medication[iv]. Ginger mixed with cinnamon and sesame oil can be applied to the inflamed area to reduce swelling.
Some other studies have reported that regular dosages of ginger have been proven to:
· Lower blood sugar levels to reduce the occurrence of diabetes.
· Reduce the risk of heart disease.
· Treat chronic indigestion.
· Lower cholesterol levels.
· Reduce menstrual pain.
· Reduce the chance of cancer.
· Fight infection.
· Protect against Alzheimer's Disease[v].
4. Gingko Biloba
Creative Commons Photograph courtesy of Julio Reis
When I heard about the mental-boosting properties of this fourth “G” herb, I was skeptic. But, I tried it anyway in the form of tea or in smoothies. Sure enough, I began to feel more alert and could focus better than before consuming the Gingo Biloba. This herb has proven benefits to older people as it enhances oxygen use and therefore improves memory, concentration and other mental functions. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful in treating asthma, ADHD and even dementia. I find a small amount in my morning tea helps me focus and overcome procrastination with any writing or administrative paperwork.
240 mg. (about 1/4 of the weight of a paper clip) or a teaspoon per day is deemed a safe dosage. Excessive use may be harmful to some people. Adverse reactions may include: upset stomach, dizziness, headaches, constipation and allergic skin reactions.
Taking massive amounts will not ensure high marks on an exam or make you an over-night. Like too much oxygen, taking more than the recommended dose of ginkgo will not help your alertness or thinking ability. But, hopefully, like me, by taking the recommended amounts, you can get some additional mental alertness, improved memory and better cognitive function.
5. ST. JOHN'S WORT
Doug's photograph of St. John's Wort growing along the Fraser Hwy in Surrey, B.C. Canada
Ever get the blues?
If I feel a visit from the “black dog of depression” coming on, I usually make some tea from St. John's Wort. (Note: Wort means medicinal food or herb) This herb is regularly used in Europe for mild depression. It is a fraction of the price of over-the-counter anti-depressants and it is non-addictive.
While I was to university and working evenings and weekends, I was often mentally exhausted, listless and sometimes feeling less than enthusiastic. After reading about St. John's Wort, I bought some from the local health food store. Then I boiled up a several tea bags of St. John's Wort, in a couple of liters (approximately 2 quarts) of water mixed with honey. I kept the mixture in the refrigerator and at the end of every Friday I had a glass of it. It seemed to help mellow me out in the winter time when the lack of sunlight and being indoors most of the time gave way to the Winter Blues.
Fast forward a few years and I learned from a Polish woman how to cut and prepare my own St. John's Wort. It grows freely where I lived in South Western British Columbia, Canada. I collected whole bags full along railway tracks, roads and in fields. Considering that a small box of tea or bottled powder might cost between $9 to $23, I was getting over 20 times more dried flowers and buds of this mild, natural anti-depressant for FREE! It is easy enough to cut, gather, dry and separate the dried flowers and buds. Once you can identify the plant, you can find it in woods, beaches, parks or open fields.
It has a mild taste that can be masked with some honey. It can also be soaked in water and made into a poultice for cuts and infections.
I have been using St. John's Wort for well over a decade and have never had any side effects, except some sensitivity to sunlight. This photo-sensitivity is a common side effect. So, avoid sun tanning if you are taking regular, heavy doses. Some books warn of anxiety from excess amounts. So, be aware of taking too much too soon. Do not be afraid of the herb. Just use common sense.
6. MILK THISTLE
Courtesy of Creative Commons contributor: Lestat (Jan Mehlich)
Milk Thistle is another common weed that has been used for centuries in different folk medicine for liver cleansing and host of other health benefits.
I never realized how potent this herb was until I was approached to sell an expensive “cure all” supplement, (eg. GMAX). This company had guys like the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series author, Mark Victor Hansen, promoting the product in a sophisticated, multi-level marketing system. I decided to research what the active ingredient of this wonder product was. The ingredient turned out to be silybum (sounds like “silly bum”) marianum which is found in a common weed: Milk Thistle.
This herb is a phenomenal liver cleanser, which, in turn affects the whole body. I once mentioned it to a recovering alcoholic and he immediately told me of using this common plant to help his recovery.
Dr. James Duke also praises this herb as one of his top “baker’s dozen.” He also raved about Milk Thistle's as a strong liver cleanser which this author-botanist enjoys taking for his health and prior to having a few alcoholic drinks.
While I have not found it to be any kind of hangover cure, I did notice that after taking this herb, that I felt less bloated. I was also sleeping sounder, had better digestion and made more trips to to the toilet to evacuate the bowels so to speak. Hence, the liver cleansing properties attributed better health and energy when my personal internal plumbing system was cleaning out.
Small wonder when some over-weight or sick people take a wonder cure, they suddenly think that it is the end-all cure, when all that they did was a little liver cleaning.
Wild Milk Thistle is found almost everywhere in the northwestern areas of North America. But, it is usually surrounded by prickles and, quite frankly, I do not have the time, technology or patience to remove the Milk Thistle seeds. It is one of the few herbs that I usually obtain through the local health food or herb shop. It is much cheaper and more potent to purchase the Milk Thistle seeds or ground powder than the capsules or tablets. The seeds and powder are much more potent that the capsules and tablets that may or may not contain fillers.
If you still want to save money and have the time, you can pick full garbage bags of this plentiful weed. I recommend using heavy duty paper or plastic garbage bags to avoid getting stuck by the needles. Use garden gloves and gardening shears or a pocket knife and cut the stems. Take home (or leave in your car trunk) and let dry. Remove the buds with the purple flower and boil for a few minutes or remove the seeds inside of the buds.
With the seeds, you can boil or soak about teaspoon in hot water and make a tea. To fully enjoy the benefits of this herb, you can also chew the softened seeds after drinking the tea. You can throw the tea or powder into a smoothie mix or just add some honey to the tea. I usually just mix it with other tea to cover up the somewhat bitter taste.
A regular dosage is between 200 and 400 milligrams.
Dr. Duke described a German study where lab rats given milk thistle were able to resist fatal poisoning by carbon tetrachloride (found in industrial cleaners). There are also claims that Milk Thistle can protect the skin against radiation poisoning and snake bite.
Heavy dosages may lower blood sugar in diabetics, cause allergic reactions and anxiety in some people and cause changes in bowel movements. The latter I experienced as part of the cleansing process. If you experience adverse effects, use your discretion and cut back.
Also known as Peruvian ginseng, Maca is packed full of important trace minerals, vitamins, plant sterols, amino acids and healthy fats. The re are a few different types, ranging from yellow to black. I have used the yellow, red and black. When I first heard about maca, I was looking for a fertility solution for my (former) wife, who had had three miscarriages prior to conceiving. After using maca and acupuncture, my ex-wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Years later, I tried maca again for its energy benefits and I noticed that I started feeling calmer and most important, started sleeping deeper.
Throughout some of my forties and most of my fifties, I was plagued with trips to the urinal. It was getting both annoying and embarrassing. Despite taking continuous dosages of prostrate-healing herbs like saw palmetto, I kept getting these frequent trips to the men's room. After a couple of days of adding powdered maca to my smoothies, I noticed that I no longer had the urgent urination emergencies. In fact, I started sleeping through the entire night without getting up several times to empty my bladder.
I make no claim that maca has aphrodisiac properties. But, since taking it, I also found it easier to keep my girlfriend happy. It was kind of like being in my 30's all over. You might not believe the number of guys and gals who gripe about not getting enough “sack time” with their spouses or partners. Something as simple as taking maca can kick-start a guy or gal's libido in no time.
Herbs have yet to replace genetics, nutrition, exercise, spirituality, mental calmness and, of course, hard work. This why they are supplements. Their intelligent use is to help you heal, feel, learn and perform better. Whether that is learning new skills, having more physical and mental strength and endurance, healing faster or just having more “mojo” for living in general. To learn more, check out my book:
All the best,
If you like this report, learn more at: www.2ndwindbodyscience.com
[ii] Duke, J (1999) Dr. Duke's Essential Herbs. Rodale Press. Emmaus: Pennsylvania.
[iii] Ryan, J., Heckler, C., Roscoe, J., Dakhil, S., Kirshner, J., Flynn, P., Hickok, J., Morrow, G.
Support Care Cancer. PMC 2012 Jul 1.20(7): 1479-1489.
[iv] Altman RD, Marcussen KC (2001) Effects of a Ginger Extract on Knee Pain in Patients with Osteoarthritis. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Nov;44(11):2531-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709
[v] Jintanaporn Wattanathorn, Supaporn Muchimapura, Terdthai Tongun, Nawanant Piyavhatkul,and Tanwarat Kajsongkram Zingiber officinale Improves Cognitive Function of the Middle-Aged Healthy Women. NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3253463/