Plants and herbs are used in numerous pharmacological compounds. Many lesser-known ones have entered the mainstream and are used to treat health issues. These are most often found in vitamin shops, health food stores, drug stores, and even supermarkets. Here we are highlighting 3 herbs that are not commonly known, but may be headed to the forefront in the near future.

Sceletium

This herb was once used as currency in South Africa, but recently has been touted for its antidepressant properties and ability to improve mood and sense of well-being. Could this be a leading contender for overtaking St. John’s wort? Sceletium is composed of alkaloids (mesembrine, mesembrenol, and tortuosamine) that work with brain receptors and affect the release of dopamine and serotonin. The herb is claimed to increase mental focus and might be helpful in decreasing stress and anxiety. The sceletium plant does not appear to have the side effects of many antidepressants, such as gastrointestinal disorders, stagnant libido, or increased depression.

Camu Camu


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Still in need of clinical trials, this plant is native to South America, and the berries are rich in vitamin C. According to a study from the Journal of Cardiology, camu camu may prove to be an anti-inflammatory agent and fight free radicals that attack the body’s defense systems. Another study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows promise in the berries’ treatment of diabetes and in their anti-diabetic effects. There is reportedly concern that camu camu could have drug interaction problems, especially with drugs used in chemotherapy treatments.

Hawthorn Extract

A study published in the American Journal of Medicine indicates that hawthorn extract can increase heart health and that “there is a significant benefit from hawthorn extract as an adjunctive treatment for chronic heart failure.” Hawthorn extract contains flavonoids and procyanidins. This herb has been called the “natural heart healer” because it acts as a vasodilator and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It has been used for treating indigestion and also shows promise in the areas of treating diabetes and high blood pressure.

Need disclaimer on this article: The Medical Bag does not condone the use of medicinal herbal treatments without the consultation of a licensed physician. All information contained herein is intended for general knowledge and is not a substitute for medical treatment for any medical conditions.

Reference

  1. Camu camu: health benefits, uses, side effects & more. About.com Alternative Medicine website. Updated April 29, 2014. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/Camu-Camu.htm.
  2. Kilham C. Sceletium, potent mood booster. Medicine Hunter website. January 2012. http://medicinehunter.com/sceletium-potent-mood-booster.
  3. Pittler MH, Schmidt K, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure: meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Med. 2003;114(8):665-674. http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(03)00131-1/abstract.