an Alternative to Natural Health
Nature's Sunshine Products
The disease-treatment approach many Western people take of nutritional supplements, herbs, diet, etc. is part of the reason they are dissatisfied with the results they get with natural healing. They are expecting rapid, symptomatic relief like they get with Western drugs and most herbs and supplements just can't deliver this kind of rapid, symptomatic relief.
What is a Tonic?
A tonic is any herb that "tones" the structure or function of the body. Tonics make the body more structurally sound and improve the general function of the various organs of the body.
Herbs that have been traditionally considered tonics are a combination of the following:
Tonics help to restore normal function and tissue integrity to weakened systems and organs. Can prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications perform these functions? While drugs can duplicate many other actions of medicinal herbs, it is an herb's ability to tonify or rebuild the body that makes them "superior" medicine to the symptom-treating, "inferior" medicine of modern drugs.
Tonics are for two conditions
First, they are used to help rebuild people who are weak, fatigued or depleted. This can often happen after a long period of stress or physical illness.
Second, tonics are taken by people as they get older or slow the effects of aging and keep the body healthy into old age. They allow older people to continue to have good energy, a healthy sex drive and a stronger resistance to disease.
Tonics are remedies but they do have some contraindications. Most tonics are generally not used for treating acute, inflammatory diseases. Many are not suitable for children, teenagers and young adults. This is because they tend to over stimulate reproductive and other hormones in young people. The exception here is if a young person is in a depleted condition from chronic illness, in which case these herbs would be fine.
Tonics and Aging
There are many researchers who are studying the effects of aging on the body. They are finding certain key factors that are involved in the decline of health, vitality and immune function as we age. These factors include the following:
What this means is that if you want to keep feeling young, energetic and healthy, you need to find ways to accomplish the following anti-aging goals:
Korean Ginseng In China is called Panax Ginseng is considered the "king of tonics" and is taken daily by millions of older Chinese people may ward off the effects of aging.
Ginseng is definitely an anti-aging herb. It is known to increase energy, stamina, endurance, improves mental and physical performance, memory and reaction time. It decreases insulin resistance and balances blood sugar to counteract hypoglycemia and diabetes. It also helps reduce anxiety due to stress and relieves depression. Ginseng is beneficial for the cardiovascular system. It lowers cholesterol, aids blood circulation to the heart and has a beneficial effect on congestive heart failure.
While we think of ginseng as a "male" herb in the West, it is equally beneficial for men and women. It can help with many of the symptoms of menopause, including vaginal atrophy.
Eleuthero root (formerly known as Siberian ginseng) has been prized in Russia for its adaptagenic effects and is taken by many classes of people from office workers to athletes. It has shown to increase immunity and enhance stamina and endurance. It reduces stress hormone output, improves mental concentration and athletic performance and helps balance blood sugar levels.
Eleuthero contains antioxidant compounds, anticancer compounds, immune enhancing compounds and cholesterol lowering compounds. It is used in Chinese medicine for inflammation of the bronchials, reduced sex drive and function, weakness in the lower limbs and insomnia.
Eleuthero may have a testosterone like effect. A midwife said that Eleuthero would stop labor if a woman was going into labor prematurely in the third trimester.
Dr. Bruce Halstead, a medical doctor and research scientist, said that in the early days of space exploration aeronauts were suffering from severe space sickness, but the cosmonauts were not. Because he had contacts in Russia, he was asked to find the cosmonaut's secret. It was Eleuthero root our astronauts started taking to prevent space sickness.
Unlike Korean ginseng, Eleuthero is safe for younger people to use. It is an excellent herb for anyone who feels like they are under too much stress, arthritis, constipation and heart arrhythmia. It is especially beneficial for people who are cold fatigued, pale, weak and anemic.
Astragalus is a tonic herb that comes to us from China. This herb is "poor man's ginseng." It provides many of the benefits of ginseng, but is milder, food-like herb that can be taken in larger quantities and on a more regular basis. it is suitable for the young as well as the old.
Astragalus affects the Chinese spleen and lung and it enhances digestion and assimilation and increases immunity. It replenishes qi (energy), helps the body release toxins, "warms" the system and reduces water retention. Astragalus has adaptagenic and antioxidant activity.
Astragalus has been traditionally used for conditions such as lack of appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, frequent colds, shortness of breath, chronic sores and ulcerations, weakness, weak constitution and heart palpitations. It has been used to treat scanty urination, abscess, arthritic pain and numbness, asthma, boils, edema, inflammation, loss of appetite, muscle numbness, nephritis, nervousness, prolapsed organs, recovery from severe blood loss and uterine bleeding.
Dong quai is the Chinese "queen of tonics." We tend to think of it as a female herb in the west, but this simply isn't the case. The herb is used by over 500 million women in China to maintain health, it has beneficial effects for both men and women.
In Chinese medicine, dong quai affects the heart, liver and spleen energy. This means it enhances blood circulation, builds and nourishes the blood and improves digestion. It has a beneficial effect on women's menstrual cycles, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, asthma, bronchitis and anemia. It can be helpful for arthritis, constipation and heart arrhythmia. It is especially beneficial for people who are cold, fatigues, pale, weak and anemic.
Dong quai should be avoided during pregnancy, diarrhea or with hot or feverish conditions. It should be avoided by women with endometriosis and breast cancer.
Cordyceps can help enhance energy, sex drive and athletic performance. In Chinese medicine, it is a tonic to both the yin and the yang energy.
It affects the Chinese kidney and lung system. It is used for chronic weakness of the lungs. It is helpful for asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases.
Since "metal" or "lung" weakness is one man’s biggest problem, he started using Cordyceps along with Chinese Lung Balance as a tonic for the respiratory system and noticed a big improvement in respiratory function and overall energy level. Studies have demonstrated that it is a great remedy for improving stamina and endurance in athletes.
Cordyceps helps balance blood sugar and has cardiovascular benefits, it reduced stress induced cholesterol and blood pressure in a study using rats. It can help elderly persons with problems like fatigue, dizziness, cold intolerance tinnitus, frequent nighttime urination, low libido and memory loss. Cordyceps is an antioxidant and free radical scavenger. It helps to reduce chronic inflammation and balance blood sugar levels.
Another benefit of Cordyceps is its ability to enhance immune function. It can enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy and may have anti-tumor activity. It prevents cirrhosis of the liver and may be beneficial for hepatitis B. It works well in combination with ganoderma or reishi mushrooms for enhancing immunity.
Maca is a South American tonic that has a strong reputation as a sexual tonic. It is fed to animals to increase fertility and is used by human beings to stay fertile.
Maca is an adaptagen and is reported to prove mental concentration. Although we don't know a lot about its specific actions, it is likely it supports other anti-aging goals as well.
SUMA is from South America and a tonic herb that has been called Brazilian ginseng.
Suma has anti-inflammatory properties and accelerates wound healing. It lowers blood sugar levels, reduces cholesterol and blood pressure and increases resistance to stress.
Ginkgo comes for Europe. It is a hardy, long-living tree, a living fossil because its reproductive system is the same as the evergreens (pine, spruce, etc. It is thought to be the most ancient deciduous tree on the planet.
Europeans discovered that an extract of the flavonoids in the leaves was highly beneficial to the circulatory system and has other anti-aging benefits. Ginkgo extract enhances circulation to the brain to improve memory and concentration. It even helps to stabilize Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Studies show that ginkgo improves alpha-wave activity in the brain.
Ginkgo is an anti-oxidant that protects the brain and slows macular degeneration. It improves peripheral circulation, reduces asthma symptoms and can help relieve tinnitus.
Gotu Kola is a memory enhancing herb. The story is told that elephants eat it and we all know "an elephant never forgets." Whether that's actually true or not, it is a good way to remember some of the properties of gotu kola.
With regular use, gotu kola enhances central nervous system function and improves cognitive function and memory. It won't help young people that already have good memories, but it can help stop or partially reverse memory decline as people age.
Gotu kola is far more than a memory herb. It is anti-inflammatory and helps liver ailments like jaundice and cirrhosis of the liver. It decreases fatigue and depression and is used to treat chronic skin conditions. It is a useful energy tonic.
Licorice Root is a tasty tonic that's both a Chinese herb and a Western remedy. Like so many other tonics, licorice increases stamina and endurance, balances blood sugar levels, counteracts weakness and fatigue, improves digestive function and enhances the immune system. It is anti-inflammatory and helps to keep mucus membranes moist. It is the most widely used herb in Chinese medicine as the Chinese frequently put licorice in their herb formulas. It's a very safe tonic for both children and adults, but is contraindicated with high blood pressure
This Chinese herb is said to balance the body's energies, quiet the heart and calm the spirit. It helps protect the liver against toxins and is useful for hepatitis. It eases both depression and irritability and improves mental clarity.
This adaptagenic herb is useful for improving sexual stamina, balancing fluids in the system and fighting respiratory infections. It's the major ingredient in tonic formula, Nervous Fatigue Formula -a great blend for people who feel "run-down" and "burned-out." Nutri Calm for stress and anxiety which gives energy in the day and better sleep at night.
It is more effective to use tonic herbs the way the Chinese do, in combinations. There are several combinations which feature the herbs listed above, including: Mineral Chi Tonic, AdaptaMax, Spleen Activator or Trigger Immune.
Tonics aren't going to do you any good if you don't take them regularly. If you want to counteract the effects of aging and keep that youthful, energetic feeling, try taking a tonic for a few months. (This will be even more effective if you combine them with some of the anti-aging therapies in “Improving with Age” article.