Real age—your biological age—has little to do with how old you are in years. Most people, age prematurely. This is avoidable. It is also reversible. One of the reasons I have such a passion for herbs is, when you know what to use when they can slow biological aging, help restore balance, and improve how you look, you feel, as well as how your body functions year by year. Combined with regular detoxification and a natural diet high in a wide variety of fresh vegetables and top quality protein, they can even rejuvenate the body in medically measurable ways—improved circulation, increased resistance to illness, and to emotional and mental troubles. They can also help you reconnect with your innate vitality whatever your chronological age.
Plants do this in many ways. Some such as ginseng, garlic and gotu kola are specifically anti-ageing in their actions. Others—herbs such as purslane and thyme as well as foods like seaweeds, oranges, carrots, and green vegetables—are literally brimming with anti-oxidants and other phyto-chemicals which are protective, regenerative and immune enhancing. Make a few of these plants an every-day part of your life. They will help protect you from the kind of free radical damage which underlies both premature ageing and the development of degenerative diseases.
Here are some of my favourite anti-ageing herbs:
Gotu Kola—Centella asiatica—has been used for centuries in India to extend life span and enhance memory. Gotu kola, like many quality bulk herbs, is native to the tropical regions of Asia and Africa, particularly Sri Lanka and Madagascar. Traditionally, its leaves are dried and steeped in order to create a tea or infusion. Gotu kola is also easy to grow in your garden or in a pot in the kitchen window however. It is also easy to introduce into your life. Just add a fresh leaf or two or a teaspoon of this dried plant to whatever herb tea you are drinking. You can also put a few leaves into salad when you make it. My favorite is a product for making your own gotu kola tea which is reasonably priced and organic. (see below)
Nori Seaweed—If you have never used sea vegetables for cooking, this is an ideal time to begin. Not only are they delicious—imparting a wonderful, spicy flavour to soups and salads— they are the richest source of organic mineral salts in nature, particularly of iodine. Iodine is the mineral needed by the thyroid gland. As your thyroid gland is largely responsible for the body’s metabolic rate, iodine is very important to a person’s energy and to protect from early aging . I like to use powdered kelp as a seasoning. It adds both flavour and minerals to salad dressings, salads and soups. I am also excessively fond of nori seaweed, which comes in long thin sheets or tiny flakes. It is a delicious snack food which you can eat along with a salad or at the beginning of the meal. It has a beautiful, crisp flavour. I like best to toast sheets of nori by passing it over a hob flame for no more than a few seconds. This brings out its wonderful flavor and turns it crunchy. The only problem I have with toasting nori is that Gus, is completely addicted to it. This means there is no peace while we are making it. He can smell nori from far away even when the kitchen door is closed. As soon as we open it, he devours a couple of big sheets of nori which we have crumbled into tiny pieces for him.
Green Barley—This is a dried form of the natural juice taken from young barley leaves. It needs to be organically grown and pesticide-free. Rich in proteins, flavonoids, minerals including iron, vitamins such as K and B15, as well as chlorophyll and other nutrients, green barley boasts thousands of enzymes, not all of which are destroyed in the digestive process. Many can play important roles in supporting anti-aging metabolic processes. It also contains a high concentration of superoxide dismutase (SOD)—an anti-oxidant enzyme. Sprinkle from 1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon of green barley on to salads or mix into juices, miso broth or water. The brand I like best is very inexpensive and you can buy a pound at a time.
Purslane—Portulaca oleracea brims with anti-oxidants—plant chemicals as well as vitamins known for their abilities to quench excess free radicals in the body. As such perslane enhances immune functioning. You can grow purslane in a vegetable patch or just about anywhere—even in window boxes, between the rose bushes or wherever you have an extra bit of space. Add purslane to fresh vegetable juices or put it through a blender to make ‘live’ vegetable drinks.
Ginkgo Biloba—improves circulation to the brain. Lots of well founded European research shows this. It can even be helpful to people with Alzheimer’s disease. The leaves from this most ancient of trees restore memory, elevate mood, and quell anxiety. There are more than 300 published studies and reports which support the anti-ageing properties of Ginkgo. Its extract is used in Germany to help treat everything from depression and cerebrovascular insufficiency to asthma, transplant rejection and hearing loss. It is also used in a few expensive skin products to protect against environmental irritation. You can take ginkgo as an extract, tincture or in capsules. I prefer a high potency herbal tincture—1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon 2 or 3 times a day.
Ginseng—Panax quinquefolius—is the classic anti-ageing plant. It can be a godsend for both men and women when recovering from a long-term illness or stress or pulling yourself out of deep fatigue. And it improves libido in both. This root brings endurance when you need it. I like to take ginseng as a tea – but make sure you buy a good one. When I need strengthening I drink double doses of ginseng tea that has been specially processed to dissolve instantaneously in hot water.
Horsetail—Equisetum arvense is the best natural source of the mineral silicon which declines in the body as we get older. Silicon is important to the maintenance of strong bones, preventing osteoporosis, firming skin, and protecting from wrinkles and sagging. Horsetail is one of the world’s oldest plants. Organic horsetail tea is the best way to take this wondeful plant several cups a day. My favorite brand is organic of course and sells for less than US $12 a pound.
Here are some of my favorites and the very best products:
- Centella Asiatica
- Origin: India
- Kosher Certified by Kosher Certification Services
- Certified Organic by QAI, Inc.
Gotu kola herb, like many quality bulk herbs, is native to the tropical regions of Asia and Africa, particularly Sri Lanka and Madagascar. Traditionally, the leaves of such herbs are dried and steeped in order to create a tea or infusion.
Order Starwest Botanicals, Organic Gotu Kola Herb from iherb
Emerald Cove Silver Grade Organic Nori has a fine, pliable texture, producing exceptionally smooth and delicious rolls of nori-maki sushi. Just briefly pass over a low flame to toast before using. You'll marvel at the clean, sweet taste of this kind of edible sea vegetables.
Order Nori Organic Seaweed from iherb
Frontier Natural Products, Organic Powdered Barley Grass
Barley Grass is a whole food loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and many more nutrients your body needs every day. A wonderful way to ensure you're getting enough dark leafy greens in your diet.
Order Organic Powdered Barley Grass from iherb
We prepare our Ginkgo Extract from the leaves of Ginkgo biloba trees which have been Certified Organically Grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.
To assure optimal extraction of Ginkgo's bioactive compounds, the leaves are hand-harvested in early autumn when Ginkgo's bioactive compounds are at their optimal concentration. They are then carefully shade-dried and promptly extracted.
Our Ginkgo is never fumigated or irradiated.
Order Herb Pharm, Ginkgo from iherb
We prepare our American Ginseng Extract from dry Panax quinquefolius roots which are Certified Organically Grown.
To assure optimal extraction of American Ginseng's bioactive compounds, the roots are hand-harvested in mid to late autumn, are carefully shade-dried, and are then thoroughly extracted. Our American Ginseng is never fumigated or irradiated.
Order Herb Pharm, American Ginseng from iherb
A perennial grass that is dimorphic, having a fertile stem in the spring which dies back and is replaced by a sterile stem in early summer. The fertile stem is brownish in color, shorter and unbranched. The sterile stem is green with whorls of needle-like leaves and jointed stems.
Order Organic Cut & Sifted Horsetail from iherb