Home Blog

5 Natural Remedies for Gout Treatment & Relief (Foods to Avoid)

gout pain toe arthritis inflammation natural remedies

For centuries, gout has been associated with overindulgence in food and alcohol that only the rich could afford. Now, with rising rates of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, this very painful disease is becoming a common man’s disease.

The 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found that 6.1 million men and 2.2 million women (3.9% of US adults) have been diagnosed with the condition. Approximately 22% of US men and women have hyperuricemia (high blood levels of uric acid), a strong risk factor for gout.

What is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis that typically affects lower-body joints, most commonly the base of the big toe. Symptoms include excruciating pain, tenderness, redness and swelling. Attacks generally last for 5-10 days.

Gout is the result of hyperuricemia or high blood levels of uric acid. Uric acid is the waste product produced from the breakdown of purines. Our kidneys clean the acid out of the blood by the kidneys and pass it out of the body through urine.

About two-thirds of uric acid in your bloodstream is produced by the body naturally. The rest comes from dietary sources, often in the form of foods containing compounds called purines.

If the body overproduces uric acid or the kidneys cannot clear it efficiently, uric acid builds up in the bloodstream. Gout symptoms occur when this excess uric acid forms needle-shaped crystals that settle in the joints.

Gout and Body Fat

The more you weigh, the less efficient your kidneys are at removing uric acid. Studies have shown that risk of gout increases incrementally with an increase in body mass index.

Visceral fat carried around the abdomen (a ‘beer belly’) is particularly linked to gout. Gout patients with visceral obesity were also more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

In a study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy, researchers recruited 103 gout patients who were not obese (as measured by BMI) and compared them to healthy controls. Visceral fat was measured using a bioelectrical meter. People with high levels of visceral fat were significantly more likely to have gout.

Gout and the Metabolic Syndrome

The metabolic syndrome is a clustering of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes including obesity, high blood pressure, high blood-sugar and abnormal cholesterol levels.

The Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 62.8% of US adults with gout also met the criteria for metabolic syndrome (compared to 25.4% for individuals without gout).

Research suggests that, in addition to causing gout, hyperuricemia may play a role in promoting inflammation, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Food and Drinks High in Purine

Uric acid is created when the body breaks down a chemical called purine. Purine is found in certain foods and also occurs naturally in the body.

A gout diet can help decrease the amount of uric acid build up in the blood and decrease gout flair ups. A gout diet consist of foods low in purines, weight loss, healthy eating habits, increase foods that control uric acid levels.

A year-long online study of 633 gout patients found that gout attacks increased with increasing intake of purine foods. Gout patients with the highest level of purine intake were almost 5 times as likely to have recurrent gout attacks compared to those with the lowest purine intake.

High Purine Foods/Drinks:

  • Wild Fame (venison, pheasant, rabbit)
  • Offal (liver, kidneys, sweetbreads)
  • Oily Fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, anchovies, sardines)
  • Seafood (shellfish, shrimp, lobster, caviar)
  • Meat Extracts (gravy, stock, broth)
  • Beer
  • Sugary Drinks

Moderate Purine Foods/Drinks:

  • Meat and Poultry (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, duck)
  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soy)

Alcohol, and beer in particular, can trigger gout attacks. The brewer’s yeast used in the fermentation process of beer has a high purine content.

A study published in the Lancet found that men who consumed 4 or more alcoholic beverages daily were twice as likely as non-drinkers to develop gout. When the researchers analyzed data for different types of alcohol, they found that beer increased gout risk more than spirits, whereas moderate wine drinking did not increase the risk.

Beverages high in sugar, fructose or high fructose corn syrup have also been associated with gout. As the body breaks down fructose, purines are released, raising blood levels of uric acid.

Meanwhile, the concentrated sugars slow the excretion of uric acid from the kidneys. Sweetened beverages are also linked to obesity, which is a major risk-factor for gout.

A study published in the BMJ followed up 46,393 men over 12 years. Over the course of the study 755 developed gout. Analyzing data from food-frequency questionnaires, the researchers found that increasing intake of sugar-sweetened drinks was associated with an increasing risk of gout. Men who drank 2 or more soft drinks a day had an 85% higher chance of developing gout than those who rarely consumed sugary drinks. Fruit juice intake was also significantly associated with a higher risk of gout.

Losing abdominal fat and eating a low-purine diet can lower your risk of developing gout or experiencing recurrent attacks. In addition, there are a few foods and supplements that have been shown to lower uric acid levels and protect against gout.

5 Best Evidenced-Based Natural Remedies for Gout

1. Tart Cherries

tart cherries juice gout flair up inflammation natural remedies

The first case-studies on the use of cherries for the treatment of gout go back to the 1950s. Cherries help to prevent gout attacks by lowering levels of uric acid and help to relieve gout pain by reducing inflammation.

Cherries are a rich source of antioxidants called anthocyanins which inhibit activity of inflammatory enzymes called COX-1 and COX-2. (The pain medication ibuprofen is also a COX inhibitor.) Anthocyanins also protect cells from inflammatory nitric oxide.

Substances in cherries react with 2 liver enzymes, xanthine oxidase and xanthine dehydrogenase, to lower overall uric acid production. Cherries may also increase the filtration rate of the kidneys, promoting removal of urate from the body.

In a study published in the Journal of Functional Foods, blood and urine samples from12 participants were tested at regular intervals after they drank either 30 ml or 60 ml of cherry juice concentrate mixed with 100 ml of water. After 2 hours, uric acid in the urine had increased by 250%, indicating that it was being quickly excreted. After 8 hours, blood levels of uric acid were reduced by 36%. A blood marker of inflammation, hsCRP, was reduced by 29%. The 30 ml and 60 ml doses of cherry juice concentrate were equally effective.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition assessed the physiologic effects of cherry consumption in 10 healthy women. The subjects consumed about 45 cherries (280 g) after an overnight fast and were required to eat them within 10 min. Blood and urine samples were obtained before eating the cherries and at 3 intervals up to 5 hours after eating them.

Urate in the blood decreased significantly over the 5-hour period after cherry consumption, whereas urate in the urine increased significantly at each sampling. Two blood markers of inflammation, C-reactive protein and nitric oxide, decreased 3 hours after consuming cherries.

The researchers compared these results to studies they had performed on the antioxidant capacity of other fruits. After similar doses of strawberries, kiwifruit or grapes, blood urate concentrations did not change.

A small pilot study published in the Journal of Arthritis compared the efficacy of cherry juice versus pomegranate juice for prevention of gout flare-ups. A total of 14 gout patients were randomized to receive either a tablespoon of cherry juice concentrate or a tablespoon of pomegranate juice concentrate twice daily. The patients were allowed to continue taking any urate-lowering or anti-inflammatory medications they had been prescribed.

Within 4 months of starting the clinical trial, patients in the cherry group experienced a significant decrease in gout attacks. The percentage of patients who were flare-free by the end of the study was 55% in the cherry group were compared to 20% in the pomegranate group. None of the patients in the pomegranate group discontinued taking anti-inflammatory medication, whereas 55% of those in the cherry group stopped their medication within 60 days.

An internet-based study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism investigated the relation between cherry intake and the risk of recurrent gout attacks. Researchers recruited 633 subjects diagnosed with gout who had experienced a gout attack within the past 12 months.

Participants were followed up online for 1 year. Each time they experienced a gout attack they answered a set of questions about risk factors over the preceding 2 days. These included questions about consumption of cherries or cherry extract. Participants answered the same list of questions during 4 control periods when they were not experiencing gout flare-ups.

Analysis of the data showed that cherry intake over a 2-day period was associated with a 35% lower risk of gout attacks compared with no intake. Cherry extract was associated with a 45% lower risk. When cherry consumption was combined with allopurinol (a medication used to decrease high uric acid levels) the risk of gout attacks was 75% lower than in periods where neither preventative treatment was used.

Method: Tart cherries, such as the Montmorency variety, contain significantly higher levels of anthocyanins than sweet cherries. Montmorency cherry juice concentrate is available from health food suppliers. Consume 2 tablespoons (30 ml) daily. Try mixing with water or milk, add it to a smoothie, or pour over yogurt.


2. Vitamin C

tomato broccoli kiwi strawberries lemon oranges grapefruit vitamin c gout inflammation natural remedies

Vitamin C increases the flow rate of fluid filtered through the kidney, which accelerates urinary excretion of uric acid. It may also inhibit the reabsorption of uric acid by the kidneys.

Thus, vitamin C supplementation could reduce blood concentrations of uric acid that at high levels could become crystallized in the joint.

A population-based study published in the Journal of Rheumatology examined associations between vitamin C intake and uric acid concentrations. A cohort of 1,387 male health professionals completed food frequency questionnaires which also asked about intake of supplemental vitamin C and multivitamins. Their blood samples were tested to determine uric acid levels.

Greater total intakes of vitamin C were significantly associated with lower uric acid concentrations. Uric acid levels over 6 mg/dl indicate hyperuricemia, a precursor of gout. The risk for hyperuricemia was reduced by 62% in men with a total vitamin C intake of 500 mg or more per day.

A prospective study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine evaluated the relationship between vitamin C intake and risk of gout in a cohort of 46,994 men with no history of gout. At the start of the study, the participants completed food-frequency questionnaires that asked about the use of over 130 foods and beverages during the previous year. The men also provided information about use of vitamin supplements. The questionnaires were updated every 4 years.

During 20 years of follow-up, there were 1,317 confirmed incident cases of gout. The risk of gout decreased with increasing vitamin C intake. Men in the top intake category of 1,500 mg or more of vitamin C per day had a 45% lower risk of gout than those whose intake was less than 250 mg per day. These associations were independent of other risk factors such as alcohol and purine foods.

A randomized controlled trial published in Arthritis and Rheumatism examined the effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood uric acid concentrations. A total of 184 adult non-smokers were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 supplementation groups: 2 placebo tablets; a 500 mg vitamin C tablet and a placebo tablet; a 400 IU vitamin E tablet and a placebo tablet; or a vitamin E tablet and a vitamin C tablet. Blood samples were taken before and 2 months after supplementation.

Blood levels of uric acid were significantly reduced for participants taking vitamin C, and higher blood levels of vitamin C were associated with lower levels of uric acid. There were no significant changes of uric acid levels for those taking vitamin E alone or placebo tablets.

A meta-analysis published in Arthritis Care Research examined the effect of vitamin C supplementation on uric acid concentrations. Researchers pooled data from 13 randomized controlled trials with 556 participants. The trials had an average duration of 30 days and used an average of 500 mg daily dose of vitamin C. Blood concentrations of uric acid were measured before and after supplementation. The combined effect of these trials was a significant reduction in uric acid levels of 0.35 mg/dL. Reductions in uric acid were larger among trials with vitamin C doses of 500 mg or more.

Method: Take a daily vitamin C supplement. Studies vary on whether daily doses of vitamin C higher than 500 mg per day have any additional benefit for gout. Doses up to 1,500 mg per day are generally considered safe. According to the NIH the upper tolerable daily intake of vitamin C is 2,000 mg for adults.


3. Dairy Products

dairy cheese yogurt feta milk cream gout inflammation natural remedies

Cow’s milk and milk products help to prevent a build-up of uric acid that can lead to gout. Proteins in milk lower blood urate levels, and orotic acid in milk promotes urate excretion by the kidneys.

Dairy products, calcium and lactose have been associated with lowering urate levels in the blood. Milk products, particularly low-fat products have been found to decrease symptoms of gout better than high-fat milk products.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the effect of 3 types of protein on blood and urine levels of uric acid in 10 healthy subjects. The participants consumed 80 grams each of casein (the main protein in cow’s milk and a major component of cheese), lactalbumin (another component of milk, commonly known as ‘whey protein’), and soy protein. Blood and urine uric acid concentrations were measured before and after intake of each protein.

Blood uric acid decreased significantly 3 hours after ingestion of lactalbumin and casein, but increased after soybean consumption. Lactalbumin and casein also increased the excretion of uric acid in the urine.

A Scottish study published in PLOS One investigated the association between urate concentration and diet. A cohort of 2,076 healthy men and women completed a questionnaire which asked about the amount and frequency of consumption of 150 food items. They also provided blood samples.

Analysis of the data showed that higher intake of dairy products, particularly skimmed milk and low-calorie yoghurt, was significantly associated with lower urate concentrations. There was also a urate-lowering effect associated with calcium and lactose (both found in milk and milk products).

A 12-year prospective study published in the New England Journal of Medicine examined the relationship between dietary risk factors and new cases of gout among 47,150 men with no history of gout. The men completed food frequency questionnaires at the start of the study and every 4 years.

Over the course of the study 730 men were diagnosed with gout. The incidence of gout decreased with increasing intake of dairy products. The men who ate the most dairy had a 44% lower risk of developing gout than those who ate the least.

A study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology examined the influence of dairy products on uric acid levels in post-menopausal women. A total of 158 Catholic nuns were randomly assigned to either a dairy diet, containing approximately 30 grams of dairy protein daily, or a dairy-free diet. After 4 weeks, blood levels of uric acid were stabilized in the dairy group, but significantly increased in subjects on the dairy-free diet. The dairy diet group also benefited from a decrease in diastolic blood pressure due to consuming more calcium.

Method: Since dairy products are a good source of protein, it makes sense to substitute them for purine protein sources like meat or seafood. For example, trade your tuna sandwich for a grilled-cheese. Just be careful to watch the portion sizes and calorie-content if you’re trying to lose weight.


4. Coffee

coffee caffeine beans gout inflammation natural remedies

Coffee contains a strong antioxidant called chlorogenic acid which improves insulin sensitivity. This antioxidant also delays glucose absorption in the intestines while increasing glucagon-like peptide 1 which has beneficial effects on insulin secretion. When insulin levels are low, uric acid levels also tend to be lower, and the risk of gout is reduced.

The caffeine in coffee may also help protect against gout. Caffeine is similar in structure to the gout-prevention drug allopurinol. Allopurinol works by blocking an enzyme called xanthine oxidase which is involved in producing urate.

Since some studies find no association between caffeine intake from all sources and risk of gout, it may be that the caffeine in coffee works synergistically with chlorogenic acid and other substances.

A study published in Arthritis Care and Research evaluated the relationship between coffee, tea and caffeine intake and uric acid levels in US adults. Researchers analyzed data from 14,758 men and women participating in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Coffee, tea and caffeine intake were assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. Blood tests measured uric acid levels and determined which participants had with hyperuricemia (serum uric acid over 7.0 mg/dl for men or over 5.7 mg/dl for women).

Uric acid levels significantly decreased with increasing coffee consumption, but not with tea intake. There was no association between uric acid levels and total caffeine from beverages. Intake of 4 cups of coffee daily lowered uric acid levels by an average of .26 mg/dl and intake of 6 or more cups lowered uric acid levels by an average of .43 mg/dl. Intake of 6 or more cups of coffee per day also reduced the risk of hyperuricemia by 43%.

A prospective study published in Arthritis and Rheumatology evaluated the relationship between coffee intake and the risk of gout. A cohort of 45,869 male health care professionals aged 40–75 with no history of gout were followed up for 12 years. At the start of the study and every 4 years, the participants completed questionnaires concerning diet, medical history and medications. On all questionnaires, participants were asked how often on average during the previous year they had consumed coffee, decaffeinated coffee, tea or caffeinated soft drinks.

Over the course of the study there were 757 confirmed incident cases of gout. Higher coffee consumption was associated with lower incidence of gout. Drinking 1-3 cups per day lowered gout risk by 8%, whereas drinking 4-5 cups lowered risk by 40% and drinking 6 or more cups lowered risk by 59%. Decaffeinated coffee had less of an effect on gout, with 4 or more cups lowering the risk by 27%. Total caffeine intake from all sources and tea intake were not associated with gout risk.

A 26-year prospective study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the relation between coffee intake and risk of gout in 89,433 female participants in the Nurses’ Health Study. At the start of the study and every 4 years, participants completed food frequency questionnaires that asked how often, on average, they had consumed coffee, decaffeinated coffee or tea in the previous year.

During the follow-up period, there were 896 confirmed cases of gout. As in the men’s study described above, higher coffee consumption was associated with reduced risk for gout. Drinking 1-3 cups per day lowered gout risk by 22%, whereas 4 or more cups per day lowered gout risk by 57%. Drinking more than one cup of decaffeinated coffee per day lowered gout risk by 13%. Unlike the men’s study, this one found an association between total caffeine consumption and gout risk. The group that drank the most caffeine had a 48% lower risk of gout compared to the group who drank the least.

Method: If you enjoy coffee, go ahead and drink it, while enjoying its numerous health benefits. However, steer clear of sweet coffee-shop drinks made with flavored syrups. The coffee may be good for your gout, but the sugar and fructose are not.


5. Fish Oil/Omega-3

fatty fish salmon omega 3 oil gout inflammation natural remedies

Like other forms of arthritis, gout is characterized as an inflammatory disease. Omega-3 essential fatty acids and dietary omega-3 from fatty fish have well-researched anti-inflammatory properties.

Just note, the purines are found in the meat of certain fish but not in highly purified, molecularly distilled fish oil supplements.

Omega-3 to omega-6 ratios should also be closely monitored. While omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, omega-6 fatty acids have pro-inflammatory effects.

Omega-3s have been shown to inhibit several pathways through which monosodium urate crystals induce inflammation. For example, they help decrease production of pro-inflammatory eicosanoids like prostaglandins and leukotrienes.

A rodent study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism examined the effect of diets enriched with omega-3 on inflammation induced by monosodium urate crystals. Rats were fed on diets high in GLA (a type of omega-3 found in plant seed oil), EPA (from fish oil) or both GLA and EPA.

The rats were then injected under the skin with urate crystals. GLA significantly suppressed the cellular phase of inflammation and EPA significantly suppressed the fluid phase of inflammation. The combined GLA and EPA diet was most effective for modifying the inflammatory response.

A case control study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases examined the association between omega-3 fatty acid levels and frequency of gout attacks. Researchers collected data from 112 men who had been diagnosed with gout. The participants were asked to report the number of gout attacks experienced over the past year. Their blood samples were tested for omega-3 and uric acid levels.

When researchers compared omega-3 levels of men who had fewer than 2 acute gout attacks with those who had 2 or more over the previous 12 months, they found that higher omega-3 levels were significantly associated with lower frequency of gout attacks.

A study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology investigated whether omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of recurrent gout attacks. Researchers examined data from the Boston University Online Gout Study. The participants had all experienced at least one gout attack in the previous year confirmed by a medical record review.

Subjects logged on to the study website whenever they had an acute gout attack and every 3 months for 1 year during gout-free periods. They completed questionnaires about medication, supplements and diet. Analysis of the data showed that consumption of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids had a protective effect for recurrent gout attacks.

Method: Although some oily fish are high in purines (mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring, and octopus), fresh fish with scales are okay for people with gout. Some examples of scaly fish are salmon, tuna, red snapper, sole, catfish, tilapia, flounder, haddock, and whitefish.

Purines are not found in most distilled fish oil. Take an omega-3 supplement containing at least 2,000 mg milligrams per day of EPA and DHA. Make sure to research the company’s website to see what the product is made out of.


Final Word

The remedies listed above will help make gout attacks less frequent, but if you do suffer from a flare-up, the following steps can help ease the pain and inflammation.

  • Take any medication you’ve been prescribed at the first sign of an attack.
  • Remove clothing and bedding from the affected area.
  • Raise the joint on a pillow and rest it.
  • Apply an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water, coffee or milk) to help flush urate from your system.

9 Natural Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) Treatment

urinary tract infection uti natural remedies

According to the National Kidney Foundation, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are responsible for nearly 10 million doctor visits each year. For anatomical reasons, they are much more prevalent in women than men.

Approximately 1 in 5 women will have a UTI in her lifetime. UTIs are often recurrent and nearly 20% of women who experience a UTI will go on to have another.

Antibiotics are usually the first line pharmaceutical treatment for urinary tract infections. Lower doses may also be prescribed as a preventative measure. However, worries about antibiotic resistance cause many women with recurrent UTIs to seek alternative remedies.

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

Urine is normally sterile and does not contain bacteria, viruses or fungi. A UTI occurs when microorganisms from the digestive tract get into the opening of the urethra and multiply in part of the urinary tract.

About 80-90% of UTIs are caused by E.coli bacteria which normally live in the colon. There are three common types of UTI:

  • Urethritis – an infection of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder
  • Cystitis – A bladder infection from bacteria that have travelled up the urethra
  • Pyelonephritis – A kidney infection caused by bacteria that have spread up from the bladder

UTI Symptoms

People with UTIs may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • A strong, persistent urge to urinate
  • Pain or burning when passing urine
  • Passing only a small amount of urine at a time
  • Urine looks dark, cloudy or reddish
  • Urine that smells especially bad
  • Fever
  • Pain or pressure above the pubic bone

Signs of a Kidney Infection (Pyelonephritis) Include:

  • Pain in the back or side below the ribs
  • Shaking and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting

Top 5 Science-Backed Natural Remedies for a UTI

1. Cranberries

cranberries urinary tract infection uti natural remedies red berries

Cranberry juice and cranberry supplements are the most studied and most widely recommended natural remedy for the prevention of UTIs.

It was previously thought that cranberries worked by acidifying the urine, producing an inhospitable environment for pathogenic bacteria.

Current theories suggests that substances in cranberries called proanthocyanidins block E. coli’s adhesion molecule, preventing it from adhering to the mucosal surface of the bladder.

A double-blind trial published in JAMA examined the effect of cranberry juice on signs of infection in the urine of elderly women. A total of 153 women with an average age of 78.5 were randomly assigned to consume 300 ml per day of a commercial cranberry beverage or a placebo drink that was indistinguishable in taste and appearance.

Urine samples were collected at the start of the study and at monthly intervals for 6 months and tested for bacteria and pyuria (white blood cells indicating an immune response to infection). Women who drank the cranberry beverage were 58% less likely to have bacteria and pyuria in their urine than the control group. This improvement was not the result of decreasing urine pH, since the cranberry-juice group had an average urine pH of 6 and the placebo group had an average urine pH of 5.5.

A pilot study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences evaluated the effect of a standardized cranberry extract supplement in patients with recurring UTIs. A total of 44 men and women who had 3 UTIs in the previous year were given lifestyle and hygiene advice about UTI prevention. Half of them took one cranberry extract capsule per day for 60 days.

In the cranberry group, the frequency of UTI episodes was reduced by 73% compared to only 15% in the control group. At the end of the study, urine analysis for bacterial infection was negative for 91% of the cranberry group compared to 50% of the control group.

A year-long trial published in the Canadian Journal of Urology evaluated the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of cranberry products for prevention of UTIs. A total of 150 sexually active women aged 21-72 who had at least two UTIs in the preceding year were randomly assigned to one of three groups: cranberry tablets plus placebo juice, cranberry juice plus placebo tablets or placebo tablets and placebo juice. The women drank 250 ml of juice 3 times per day and took tablets twice a day.

During the treatment year, 10 women in the juice group and 9 in the tablet group experienced at least 1 UTI, compared to 16 in the placebo group. During the year following the study, women in the juice and tablet groups experienced approximately half as many UTIs on average as women in the placebo group. Total annual antibiotic consumption was less in both treatment groups compared with the placebo group.

A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy compared the effectiveness of cranberry extract with the antibiotic trimethoprim for prevention of recurrent UTIs in older women. Researchers recruited 137 women aged 45 or older who had been diagnosed and treated for two or more UTIs in the previous 12 months. The women were randomized to receive one daily capsule containing either 500 mg of cranberry extract or 100 mg of trimethoprim for 6 months.

Recurrence rates for microbiologically confirmed UTI were similar at 16% for cranberry versus 12% for trimethoprim. There was also no significant difference in the average time to recurrence of UTI. Compared with cranberry extract, treatment with trimethoprim resulted in fewer than 7 additional UTI-free days.

Researchers concluded that older women with recurrent UTIs should discuss cranberry extract with their clinicians since trimethoprim had a very limited advantage in the prevention of UTIs, produced more adverse side-effects and increased the risk of antimicrobial resistance.

A systematic review published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research assessed the effectiveness of cranberry products in preventing UTIs. Researchers analyzed data from four good quality randomized controlled trials and concluded that cranberry products significantly reduced the incidence of symptomatic UTIs over a 12-month treatment period, particularly in women with recurrent UTIs. The combined data showed that women who used cranberry products reduced their risk of a UTI by 35%.

Method: If you like the sour taste of pure unsweetened cranberry juice, drink 10–12 ounces daily to help prevent a recurring UTI. Be aware that commercial cranberry juice often contain only 5-7% cranberry juice and tons of added sugar.

If you don’t like the taste of cranberries, take one 750 mg cranberry extract capsule or tablet daily.


2. Uva Ursi (Bearberry)

uva ursi bearberry red berries urinary tract infection uti natural remedies

Uva ursi is one of the most commonly used herbs for UTIs. It has a strong antimicrobial effect against E.coli, Proteus mirabilis, Staphylococcus aureus and 70 other urinary tract bacteria.

A compound in uva ursi called arbutin is filtered by the kidneys into the urine where it acts as an antiseptic. Uva ursi also changes the characteristics of the microbial cell surface, causing more bacteria to be excreted in the urine.

In a German study, the urine of healthy volunteers given 100 mg to 1 gram of arbutin showed similar antimicrobial activity as the prescription antibiotics gentamicin and nalidixic acid against the uropathogens E. coli, Proteus mirabilis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

A laboratory study examined the effects of 4 herbal extracts on strains of E.coli extracted from the urine of patients with kidney infections. The leaves of uva ursi had the highest antimicrobial activity. After exposure to undiluted uva ursi extract, 20 strains of E.coli showed no growth. Researchers also found that aqueous extract of uva ursi made the microbial cell surface more water repellent, decreasing the ability of bacteria to adhere to the urinary tract.

A study published in Current Therapeutic Research investigated the effectiveness of an uva ursi supplement for preventing UTIs. A total of 57 women aged 32-63 who had suffered at least three episodes of cystitis during the preceding year were randomized to a treatment group or a control group. The treatment group received supplements containing extracts of uva ursi leaf and dandelion root and leaf. (Dandelion was included for its diuretic effects.) The control group received placebo supplements.

The participants took the supplements for one month. Over the course of the following year, none of the women in the uva ursi group had a UTI, whereas 5 of the women in the placebo group did. This difference was statistically significant.

Method: At the first sign of a UTI, take a 500mg of uva ursi leaf extract capsule 6 times daily, preferably with food. If you have recurring UTIs, take 3 capsules daily as a preventative measure.

Uva ursi appears to be most effective for UTI suffers with alkaline urine (pH should be at least 8). You can increase urine alkalinity by drinking a daily mixture of 2 teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in a glass of water.


3. Dmannose

d mannose peach mango berries orange lemon grapefruit urinary tract infection uti natural remedies

D-mannose (aka mannose) is a natural sugar found a variety of fruits and vegetables. It differs from most sugars in that it is not metabolized by the body and is excreted in the urine.

D-mannose attracts pathogenic bacteria like a magnet. The bacteria binds to the sugar particles and are flushed out of the body along with the mannose.

Laboratory and animal studies have found that E. coli have proteins that specifically bind to receptors on mannose particles. When mannose is present, the E.coli bacteria will adhere to it, rather than to the bladder wall.

A pilot study published in the Journal of Clinical Urology evaluated the efficacy of D-mannose in the treatment and prevention of recurrent UTIs. Researchers recruited 60 women aged 22-54 who had a current UTI and had had 3 or more UTIs in the preceding 12 months. The patients were randomly assigned to treatment with antibiotics or to treatment with 1 gram of D-mannose 3 times a day for 2 weeks, then 1 gram twice a day for 22 weeks.

Significantly more women remained infection-free in the D-mannose group. The average time between initial treatment and a recurrent UTI was 53 days in the antibiotic group and 200 days in the D-mannose group.

A clinical trial published in the World Journal of Urology tested whether D-mannose powder is effective for preventing recurrent urinary tract infections. A total of 308 women with a history of recurrent UTI were randomly allocated to 3 groups after initial antibiotic treatment for cystitis. One group received 2 grams of D-mannose powder daily for 6 months, another group received 50 mg of the antibiotic nitrofurantoin, and a control group had no preventative treatment.

Over the course of the study, 15 patients in the D-mannose group had a recurrent UTI compared to 21 in the nitrofurantoin group and 62 in the control group. Patients in both treatment groups had a significantly lower risk of developing UTIs than those in the no-treatment group. However, patients in the D-mannose group had a significantly lower risk of side effects compared to patients in nitrofurantoin group.

Method: For an active UTI, mix 1 heaped teaspoon of D-Mannose powder into a glass of water and drink every 3 hours. To prevent recurrent UTIs, drink 1 heaped teaspoon dissolved in water once a day.

After taking a dose of D-Mannose, drink another 12-ounces of water to help flush the mannose-bound E-coli out of your system.


4. Probiotics

probiotics pickles sauerkraut pickled veggies urinary tract infection uti natural remedies

Bacteria which cause a UTI usually spreads from the digestive tract to the urogenital tract. Certain species and strains of friendly bacteria such as lactobacillus colonize in the large intestine and crowd out undesirable bacteria such as E. coli.

Probiotics can favorably alter the microflora of the bowel, increasing the good bacteria and reducing the concentration of pathogenic bacteria which can lead to a UTI. They can also help to restore a healthy microbiome after treating a UTI with a course of antibiotics.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated whether dietary factors could protect women from urinary tract infection. Researchers recruited 139 women with a diagnosis of an acute UTI and compared them with 185 age-matched controls with no episodes of UTIs over the past 5 years. The participants completed questionnaires regarding their dietary habits and daily fluid intake during the past month.

Frequent consumption of fermented milk products containing probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus or Lactobacillus GG protected against UTIs. Women who consumed yogurt or cheese with active cultures more than 3 times a week had a significantly lower risk of UTI compared to women who consumed them less than once a week. Non-fermented milk products had no effect on the risk of UTI.

A double-blind trial published in JAMA compared the effectiveness of probiotics to antibiotics for the prevention of recurrent UTIs. A total of 252 postmenopausal women with at least 3 UTIs in the preceding year were randomized to receive the antibiotic trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or probiotic capsules containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri.

After 12 months of treatment, the average number of symptomatic UTIs in the probiotic group was 3.3, nearly equivalent to those in the 2.9 in the antibiotic group. The percentage of patients with at least 1 microbiologically confirmed UTI during the 12-month study was 49.4 in the antibiotic group and 63.9 in the probiotic group. Although the occurrence of UTIs was reduced by 50% in the probiotic group, researchers concluded that probiotics not meet their noninferiority criteria in the prevention of UTIs when compared with antibiotics.

However, treatment with antibiotics resulted in a considerable increase in antibiotic resistance among E coli isolated from patients’ urine and feces. After just 1 month of treatment, resistance to 3 different antibiotics increased to approximately 80-95%. Resistance did not increase during probiotic treatment. Therefore, the researchers concluded that lactobacilli probiotics may be an acceptable alternative for prevention of UTIs, especially in women who dislike taking antibiotics.

A study published in Clinical Therapeutics examined the efficacy of probiotic vaginal suppositories for the prevention of recurring UTIs. Researchers treated 41 women with UTIs with a 3-day course of antibiotics to eradicate their infections. The women were then randomized to receive vaginal suppositories containing either a lactobacillus probiotic or a sterilized skim-milk placebo. Women in the lactobacillus group had a UTI recurrence rate of 21% compared to a recurrence rate of 47% in the placebo group.

Method: Choose probiotic capsules formulated for women which contain Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus reuteri. Take 2 capsules per day for a current UTI or 1 capsule a day to prevent future UTIs.

Probiotic vaginal suppositories containing a variety of lactobacillus strains are available to purchase online. Use according to directions.


5. Vitamin C

vitamin c broccoli spinach orange kiwi peppers tomatoes strawberries lemon urinary tract infection uti natural remedies

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) helps to treat a UTI by acidifying the urine. E. coli and certain other types of bacteria convert nitrates in the urine to nitrites.

When the urine has an acidic pH, the nitrites form nitrogen oxides which are toxic to bacteria, colonizing the bladder. Decreasing the pH of urine to a level below 5.5 effectively kills E. coli bacteria.

A laboratory study published in Nitric Oxide examined the effect of vitamin C on bacteria in human urine. Nitrite-containing human urine which was mildly acidic generated large amounts of nitric oxide which markedly reduced the growth of three common urinary pathogens: E. Coli, Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The addition of ascorbic acid to the urine enhanced the effect and further inhibited bacterial growth.

A case-control study published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology examined the associations between various lifestyle factors and urinary tract infection among college-aged women. Researchers collected data from 237 female patients attending a university health service with UTI symptoms and a control group with no urinary symptoms. All of the study participants filled in questionnaires which included items on diet.

Examination of the associations between UTI and diet during the previous 4 weeks showed most foods and drinks had no effect on UTI risk. The only dietary factor that showed a protective effect against UTIs was taking vitamin C. After controlling for confounding variables, researchers found that, for women with no prior UTI, vitamin C reduced the UTI risk by 41%. For women with one or more prior UTIs, vitamin C reduced the UTI risk by 15%.

A Mexican study evaluated the role of vitamin C in preventing UTIs during pregnancy. A total of 110 pregnant women were randomized into 2 groups. One group received 200 mg iron, 5 mg folic acid and 100 mg vitamin C daily. The other group received 200 mg iron and 5 mg folic acid daily.

Urine cultures were carried out each month for a period of 3 months. In the vitamin C group 13% of women developed UTIs, compared to 29% of women in the non-vitamin C group. This difference was statistically significant.

Method: For a current UTI, take 500 mg of vitamin C, 3-4 times daily. To help prevent future UTIs, take one 500 mg of vitamin C supplement per day.

Note that the NIH sets the upper tolerable daily intake limit of vitamin C at 2,000 mg for adults. Higher doses may cause gastrointestinal disturbances such as diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps.


Other Natural Remedies That May Help a UTI

The following natural remedies have not been as widely studied as the ones listed above, however there is some evidence that they may be of help to UTI sufferers.

Bromelain, berberine and horseradish are all available in supplement capsules. Couch grass is most widely available as a tea or tincture.

6. Bromelain

bromelain pineapple urinary tract infection uti natural remedies

Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapple with anti-inflammatory properties. It may enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics used to treat UTIs.

One clinical study from 1972 tested the effect of supplement tablets containing bromelain and trypsin (a digestive enzyme) for UTIs.

Patients with UTIs were treated with antibiotics plus either a 400 mg bromelain/trypsin supplement or placebo tablet for 2 days. All of the patients in the enzyme supplement group had a resolution of their infection compared with only 46% of those in the placebo group.


7. Berberine

berberine red dried plant herb urinary tract infection uti natural remedies

Berberine is a a plant alkaloid with antimicrobial properties found in a variety of medicinal herbs including barberry, Oregon-grape and goldenseal. Laboratory research has shown that berberine inhibits the growth of E. coli fimbriae, appendages the bacteria use to adhere to cells.

In theory, berberine would prevent E. coli from attaching to the lining of the bladder. One study found that pre-treatment of rats with berberine could reduce chemically-induced cystitis in a dose‐dependent manner.


8. Horseradish

horseradish root spicy shaved urinary tract infection uti natural remedies

Horseradish contains mustard oils that have antibacterial properties. Once ingested these oils are processed by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. Therefore, they can help to fight infection as they pass through the urinary tract.

A German study tested the effect of a supplement containing horseradish root and nasturtium (another source of mustard oils) for treatment of recurrent UTIs. A total of 131 patients who had experienced 2 UTIs in the past 6 months were randomized to receive either the supplement or a placebo twice daily for 90 days. Over the study period, the average number of recurrent UTIs in the supplement group was significantly lower than that in the placebo group.


9. Couch Grass

couch grass green field blades urinary tract infection uti natural remedies

Couch grass (Agropyron repens) is a traditional herbal remedy for UTIs. It was thought to work by simply increasing the volume of urine excreted, helping to flush out bacteria.

However, recent laboratory research has shown that a hexadecyl-coumaric acid ester in couch grass reducees E. coli’s ability to adhere to the lining of the bladder.


Final Word

There are a few simple hygiene steps you can take to prevent the spread of bacteria that can cause a UTI:

  • Drink plenty of water to ensure more frequent urination and use the toilet whenever you feel the urge. This will help flush any bacteria out of your urinary tract before it has a chance to multiply.
  • Urinate after sex to flush out any bacteria that may have been transferred.
  • Wear cotton underpants and choose pantyhose or tights with a cotton gusset. Artificial fabrics like nylon trap moisture and promote bacterial growth.
  • When using toilet paper, wipe from front to back.
  • If you have recurrent UTIs, take showers instead of baths.
  • Avoid using feminine deodorants or douches which could alter the pH of the urinary tract, encouraging bacterial growth.

7 Best Natural Supplements & Vitamins to Boost Energy

increase boost energy levels natural remedies

Modern hectic lifestyles often leave people feeling worn-out and drained. Fast food, sedentary lifestyles, poor sleep quality and chronic stress all contribute to day-time exhaustion.

Trying to balance work, family responsibilities and relationships can lead to mental, emotional and physical fatigue. When you’re feeling sluggish and unenergetic, routine tasks become daunting and you may lack the motivation to participate in activities you enjoy.

Fortunately, there are several natural remedies that can recharge your batteries and help to give you sustained energy and focus throughout the day.

7 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Energy

1. Rhodiola Rosea

rhodiola rosea increase boost energy levels natural remedies.

Rhodiola rosea is a medicinal herb that grows in cold climates. It is most commonly used to alleviate fatigue and physical and mental stress.

Rodent research indicates that that rhodiola interacts with the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the body’s stress system, and reduces levels of stress-related hormones, enzymes and proteins. Laboratory studies have shown that rhodiola inhibits the action of monoamine oxidases, enzymes that break down neurotransmitters involved in regulating mood and energy.

A pilot study published in Phytomedicine investigated the stimulating effect of rhodiola rosea in students.  The participants were randomized to receive either 50 mg of rhodiola extract or a placebo daily for 20 days during a stressful examination period. Their physical and mental performance were assessed before and after the trial.

Compared to the control group, the rhodiola group showed significant improvements in mental energy, physical fitness and neuro-motor test performance. They also reported significantly better general well-being.  The researchers note that the 50 mg dose level was probably suboptimal.

A crossover study published in Phytomedicine examined the effect of rhodiola rosea on fatigue during night duty among a group of 56 healthy physicians. Before and after night shifts the doctors took 5 different tests to measure their overall level of mental fatigue. The tests measured aspects of cognition such as short-term memory, concentration, calculation, associative thinking and perception.

In a double-blind trial the physicians were randomized to receive either a 175 mg of rhodiola extract supplement or a placebo for 2 weeks. After a two-week break they were given the alternative treatment.  Rhodiola supplementation significantly improved cognitive testing performance following night shifts.

A clinical trial published in Planta Medica assessed the efficacy of rhodiola rosea in the treatment of individuals suffering from stress-related fatigue. A total of 60 men and women diagnosed with fatigue syndrome were randomized to receive either 576 mg of rhodiola extract tablets or placebo tablets daily for 4 weeks. Before and after the trial the participants took a series of tests measuring mood, attention and symptoms of fatigue. They also took saliva tests to determine levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Compared with the placebo group, the rhodiola group had significant improvements in symptoms of fatigue and in mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate. They also had significantly reduced levels of cortisol.

Method: Rhodiola rosea root extract supplements come in capsules or tablets in strengths that range between 100-500 mg. The standard dose is a 200 mg supplement taken twice daily.


2. Asian Ginseng

asian ginseng roots boost increase energy

Asian ginseng, also known as panax ginseng or Korean ginseng, is thought to reduce fatigue and improve cognitive performance due to its antioxidant properties.

One study found that participants with unexplained chronic fatigue had a 4-fold greater level of malondialdehyde, a marker of oxidative stress, in comparison with healthy subjects. Treatment with Asian ginseng significantly reduced levels of oxidative stress markers after 4 weeks.

A randomized controlled trial published in Alternative and Complementary Medicine investigated the anti-fatigue effects of a ginseng extract in healthy adults. A total of 52 subjects were allocated to one of two groups. The treatment group received 2 grams per day of a ginseng extract modified with enzymes to intensify biological activity. The control group received a placebo. Before and after the trial all of the participants rated their fatigue level using a standardized survey. After 4 weeks, the ginseng extract group’s fatigue score decreased significantly compared to the control group.

A clinical trial published in PLOS One investigated the antifatigue effects of Asian ginseng in 90 men and women with medically unexplained chronic fatigue. Participants were randomized into 3 groups and assigned to receive ginseng extract capsules in a dose of 1 or 2 grams daily or placebo capsules for 4 weeks. At the start and end of the study, participants rated their fatigue on a scale of 1-10 and also completed a questionnaire about severity of mental and physical symptoms of fatigue.

Subjects in the high-dose ginseng group had a significant drop in their 1-10 fatigue rating from an average of 7.3 down to 4.4. Severity scores for symptoms of mental fatigue were significantly improved for both ginseng groups compared the placebo group, falling by approximately 25%.

A crossover study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology examined the effect of ginseng on cognitive performance during mentally demanding tasks. Researchers recruited 27 healthy young adults and gave them a 10-minute test that involved mental subtraction and rapid visual information processing.

Each participant took a 200 mg ginseng supplement, a 400 mg ginseng supplement or a placebo in random order on different test days. One hour after taking the ginseng or placebo, they completed the cognitive demand test 6 times in immediate succession and rated their level of mental fatigue each time.

Compared to placebo, ginseng enhanced performance on the mental arithmetic task and reduced the increase in feelings of mental fatigue during the later stages of the cognitively demanding task performance.

Method: Choose a Panax ginseng root extract tablet standardized to 4-8% gingenosides. Take 200-400 mg daily for an energy boost. Alternatively, take a ginseng supplement an hour before attempting a stressful mental task.


3. Tyrosine

tyrosine meat eggs nuts boost increase energy levels natural remedies

Tyrosine is an amino acid used by the body to make proteins. It is naturally found in dairy products and a variety of protein foods. (Its name comes from the Greek word for cheese.)

Research has shown that tyrosine facilitates the production of stimulatory neurotransmitters in the brain which can be depleted by stress and fatigue. In particular, it increases levels of norepinephrine which mobilizes the body and brain for action by releasing energy stores and increasing arousal and alertness.

A double-blind study published in the Brain Research Bulletin examined the effects of tyrosine on cognitive performance during a demanding combat training course. A total of 21 military cadets were randomized to receive 5 daily doses of either a protein-rich drink containing 2 grams of tyrosine or a carbohydrate rich drink with the same amount of calories.

Before starting the combat course, the cadets completed cognitive tests. When they were retested on the 6th day of training, the group given tyrosine performed significantly better on tasks that tested alertness and memory. The researchers conclude that, in circumstances characterized by psychosocial and physical stress, supplementation of tyrosine may reduce the effects of stress and fatigue on cognitive performance.

A randomized controlled trial conducted by the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory examined the behavioral effects of tyrosine during an episode of continuous night-time work. The workers remained awake throughout the day on which the experiment began. They performed a battery of performance tasks and mood assessments at 9 intervals starting at 7:30 PM and ending at 8:20 AM. All of the participants were awake for more than 24 hours by the end of testing.

After 6 hours, half of the subjects received 150 mg of tyrosine per kilogram of body weight and half received a placebo. As the night went on, the tyrosine group had significantly less decline in performance on tasks designed to measure sustained attention and vigilance.  The cognitive improvements lasted approximately 3 hours.

A study published in Nutrients investigated the cognitive and mood effects of a nutrient enriched breakfast bar containing tyrosine. A total of 95 healthy adults were randomized to receive either breakfast bars containing 279 mg of tyrosine, vitamins and other nutrients or placebo breakfast bars matched in terms of calories, fiber, sugars and protein. They were instructed to eat one bar daily for 8 weeks.

At the beginning and end of the trial, cognitive function and mood were assessed before consuming the bars and at 40 minutes and 2 hours afterwards. The selection of 14 cognitive tasks was chosen to provide a broad assessment across different domains. They also completed a standardized depression, anxiety and stress questionnaire.

The effect of the tyrosine breakfast bars on mood was apparent 40 minutes after consumption with a significant increase in alertness. Performance was enhanced on tasks that tested attention, long-term and short-term memory, concentration and rapid information processing. The effect of the bars was immediate, rather than cumulative, with similar improvements on day 1 and day 56.

Method: Meat (beef, lamb, pork, poultry) is the best dietary source of tyrosine. Other good sources are fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, beans and peanuts.

If you have a relatively low-protein diet or are regularly subject to physical or psychological stress, L- tyrosine supplements could help reduce fatigue and increase alertness. Take a 500 mg capsule daily.

An L- tyrosine supplement capsule taken 40 minutes before a demanding, stressful task can help enhance your performance.


4. Peppermint Oil Aromatherapy

peppermint oil aromatherapy leaves increase boost energy levels natural remedies.

Many people find the aroma of peppermint invigorating and there appears to be a biological basis for this.

Studies suggest that components of peppermint oil act as central nervous system stimulants. Other research has also shown that inhaling peppermint improves lung capacity, supplying more oxygen to the brain.

A preliminary study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology investigated the effect of peppermint oil on daytime sleepiness. Changes in pupil size in darkness can be can be used as a reliable objective measure of sleepiness. Researchers analyzed pupillary fatigue oscillations in subjects during 11 minutes spent in a darkened room with or without the aroma of peppermint oil. Compared with a no-odor condition, peppermint oil significantly limited the increase in sleepiness.

Another study published in the International Journal of Technology investigated the effects of peppermint aromatherapy on performance and fatigue in complex air traffic control tasks. A total of 16 participants performed tasks using air traffic control simulation software for 2 hours with and without peppermint aroma.

The subject’s performance was recorded by the software. Their fatigue levels were measured using a heart rate monitor, electroencephalograph (EEG) and a reaction-time testing device. Peppermint aroma significantly improved simulation performance. It also significantly inhibited fatigue development according to all measures.

A third study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience examined the impact essential oils on  cognition and mood in healthy participants. A total of 144 participants were randomly assigned to a peppermint aromatherapy group, a ylang-ylang aromatherapy group or a control group.

Before and after treatment with essential oils the participants took a battery of computer-based cognitive tests and a mood assessment. Peppermint was found to enhance memory and increase alertness. Ylang-ylang decreased memory and alertness, but increased calmness.

A small pilot study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine examined the effectiveness of a mixture of peppermint, basil and helichrysum essential oils on mental exhaustion. Researchers recruited 14 participants and randomized them to receive personal inhalers containing either the essential oils mixture or a rosewater placebo.

The subjects used the inhalers at home and at work for 5 days. Throughout the study they rated their feelings of mental fatigue or burnout on a 10-point scale 3 times a day.  The aromatherapy group had a much greater reduction in perceived level of mental fatigue and burnout than the control group.

Method: To fill a room with peppermint aroma, add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to a reed diffuser, candle diffuser or electric diffuser.

Essential oil personal nasal inhaler sticks are available online from shops that stock aromatherapy supplies. Simply add 5 drops of peppermint oil and seal. Keep the inhaler in your pocket or purse and breathe in peppermint aroma whenever you need an energy boost.


5. Magnesium

magnesium beans greens nuts seeds increase boost energy levels natural remedies.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), dietary surveys of Americans consistently show that the majority of people get less than the recommended amounts of magnesium from their diet.

Magnesium is required to activate ATP, the fundamental unit of energy within cells, and to metabolize nutrients into energy. Some of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, such as weakness, tiredness and muscle pain are similar to those found in chronic fatigue syndrome.

A clinical trial published in the Lancet tested magnesium treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The researchers started with a case-control study to determine whether patients with CFS were deficient in magnesium. They found that CFS patients had significantly lower magnesium levels in their red blood cells compared to healthy controls matched for age and sex. They then randomly allocated 32 CFS patients to receive magnesium sulphate injections or placebo water injections once a week for 6 weeks. Before and after treatment the patients filled in a health profile questionnaire.

Patients treated with magnesium reported improved energy levels, less pain and better emotional state. In half the patients the energy score improved from the minimum to the maximum. In the magnesium group, 80% of patients said that they had benefited from the injections compared to 18% of those in the placebo group.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition examined the effects of dietary magnesium restriction on physiologic responses during exercise in postmenopausal women. Older women often consume less than the required amount of magnesium. Researchers recruited 10 women aged 45–71 y old and put them on a low magnesium diet.

After 93 days of magnesium depletion, their heart rate, oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide output were monitored while they pedaled an exercise bike until they reached 80% of the peak heart rate for their age. They then were supplemented with 200 mg of magnesium per day for 49 days to restore normal magnesium levels and the exercise test was repeated.

Magnesium intake affected cardiovascular and metabolic responses during exercise. Oxygen utilization and heart rate increased significantly during magnesium restriction compared with adequate magnesium intake. When women were magnesium deficient they required significantly more energy to perform the same amount of physical activity.

A pilot study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine evaluated the effect of magnesium on fatigue symptoms associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Researchers recruited 23 patients with seasonal fatigue symptoms and gave them 4-5 weekly injections of a solution containing 40% magnesium hydroxide.

Before and after treatment, the patients completed questionnaires about physical and mental fatigue symptoms. Of the 22 patients who completed the final questionnaire, 82% reported an improvement in fatigue symptoms and 41% reported a strong improvement.

Method: Good sources of dietary magnesium include dark leafy greens, seeds and nuts. Magnesium can also be found in fish, dark chocolate, avocados and bananas. A good way to get more magnesium on a regular basis is to substitute almonds, brazil nuts or pumpkin seeds for unhealthy snacks like potato or corn chips.

The least expensive magnesium supplements contain magnesium oxide, but research has shown that this type is poorly absorbed from the intestinal tract. According to the NIH, magnesium in the citrate, lactate, aspartate and chloride forms is absorbed more completely and is more bioavailable than magnesium oxide or magnesium sulfate.

Take one 200 mg tablet or capsule of magnesium per day.


6. Vitamin D

vitamin d eggs mushrooms fish cheese boost increase energy levels natural remedies

Fatigue and low energy are symptoms of inadequate Vitamin D. Data from the National Health and Examination Survey indicates that approximately 42% of Americans are Vitamin D deficient.

Research has shown that Vitamin D is important for mitochondrial function within muscle cells. Mitochondria use glucose and oxygen to make energy and low Vitamin D levels can interfere with this process.

An Iranian study examined the relationship between fatigue and circulating Vitamin D levels in female nurses. Researchers randomly selected 200 out of 526 nurses working in a hospital to participate in the study. The nurses rated their fatigue levels on a 10-point scale and completed a fatigue questionnaire. Blood tests showed that 89% of the nurses were Vitamin D deficient.

Analysis of the data showed a significant correlation between Vitamin D levels and fatigue. Vitamin D level accounted for 13% of the fatigue based on data from the questionnaire. There was no significant relationship between fatigue and other variables including number of shift per month, age and work history. When researchers analyzed data from the 10-point scale rating alone, vitamin D deficiency accounted for 18.6% of fatigue.

A therapeutic study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences examined the effect of normalization of Vitamin D levels on fatigue. Researchers recruited 174 adult patients between the ages of 18-75 who visited a primary care office with fatigue as their chief complaint. The volunteers completed a fatigue scale assessment questionnaire called the MFSI-SF. Blood tests revealed that 77% of the fatigue patients had low levels of Vitamin D.

All patients with low Vitamin D (less than 30 ng/ml) received high dose oral Vitamin D supplements three times per week for 5 weeks or until their Vitamin D levels reached the normal range. They then repeated the fatigue questionnaire. Normalization of Vitamin D levels significantly improved scores in all sub-scale categories of the fatigue assessment including general, emotional, mental and physical symptoms.

A randomized controlled trial published in Medicine examined the effect of vitamin D on fatigue. A total of 120 adults who reported fatigue symptoms and had low levels of Vitamin D were enrolled in the study. The participants all completed a standard fatigue assessment scale (FAS). The treatment group received a single dose of 2 capsules containing 50,000 IU Vitamin D. The control group received identically packaged placebo capsules.

After 4 weeks the participants repeated the FAS. Average scores decreased significantly more in the Vitamin D group compared with the placebo group and improvement in fatigue score correlated with the rise in Vitamin D levels. Self-perceived improvement of fatigue was also reported more frequently in the Vitamin D group than in the placebo group.

Method: The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for Vitamin D is 600-800 IU per day, but most people get less than this from their diets. The best food sources are oily fish, egg yolks and beef liver.

While the sun converts a substance in the skin to Vitamin D, many people don’t get adequate year-round sun exposure to produce recommended levels.

The Endocrine Society clinical practice guidelines state that adults may require at least 1,500-2,000 IU per day of Vitamin D supplements to consistently reach healthy levels.


7. Exercise

exercise boost increase energy levels natural remedies

Regular exercise increases lung capacity and helps the heart to work more efficiently. This allows more oxygen to circulate in your bloodstream and energize your brain and muscles. Physical activity also promotes the release of endorphins.

These ‘feel good’ chemicals boosts mood and helps to combat energy-draining stress. Another benefit of exercise is improved quality of sleep, which helps you to feel more alert throughout the day.

A study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics examined the effects of exercise training on feelings of energy and fatigue in sedentary young adults. A total of 36 participants who reported persistent feelings of fatigue were randomly assigned to either a no-exercise control group, a low-intensity exercise group or a moderate-intensity exercise group.

The participants attended exercise sessions for 3 days a week for 6 weeks. They completed weekly questionnaires about vigor and fatigue. Their aerobic fitness was measured before and after the trial.

Both the low and moderate intensity groups showed beneficial effects on feelings of energy. The low intensity group showed a better improvement in feelings of fatigue. These changes were unrelated to changes in aerobic fitness.

Hormonal shifts, sleepless nights and childcare duties often cause new mothers to experience stress and low energy. An Iranian study assessed the effect of Pilates home exercise on postpartum maternal fatigue. Researchers recruited 80 women attending health centers for prenatal care. Half of the women were assigned to an exercise group and half were assigned to a control group. Each woman’s level of fatigue was evaluated at hospital discharge and at four and eight weeks after delivery.

The exercise group were given a video, a training booklet and an audio CD to use during home exercise. The Pilates exercises focused on deep breathing, whole-body stretching and core strengthening. The women performed the exercises for 30 minutes, 5 days a week beginning 72 hours after giving birth. After 8 weeks, the exercise group had significantly better scores than the control group in areas of general fatigue, physical fatigue, mental fatigue, activity and motivation.

A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology compared the effect of a sugar snack versus moderate exercise on energy, tiredness and tension. On 12 selected days, 18 volunteers were randomly assigned to eat a candy bar or walk briskly for 10 minutes. Afterward, they rated their energy and mood over a 2-hour period.

Significant increases in energy and decreases in tension were observed for 2 hours after walking. The sugar snack initially increased energy and reduced tiredness, but one hour after eating it, the participants reported reduced energy, increased tiredness and significantly higher tension.

Method: It’s easy to find excuses not to exercise when you’re feeling tired or stressed, so choose a type of exercise you enjoy and build it in to your daily routine. If you make a habit of jogging every morning, cycling to work, or taking a walk at lunchtime you’ll feel more energetic after just a few weeks.


Final Word

Here are a few more words of advice for feeling energized throughout the day:

  • It may seem obvious, but poor sleep is a major cause of low energy. If you have trouble drifting off or wake frequently during the night, you’ll probably feel exhausted the next morning. Try these 7 Tips on How to Get Better Sleep or these Remedies & Sleep Aids to Cure Insomnia.
  • Coffee is an instant pick-me-up that has many health benefits. Just don’t drink it after 5 PM, as it could affect your quality of sleep.
  • Avoid sugary snacks and soft drinks. Sweet foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels that can give you an energizing ‘sugar rush’. However, this burst of energy doesn’t last long and when your blood sugar drops you may feel tired, weak and irritable.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast that includes some form of protein such as eggs, cheese or yogurt. Protein will help to reduce the blood sugar spikes and midmorning slumps that come along with carbohydrate breakfasts such as cereal or toast.

7 Best Natural Remedies to Improve Memory, Focus & Concentration

memory loss forgetfulness natural remedies

Everyone experiences forgetfulness at times and episodes of absent-mindedness tend to become more common as we get older.

Occasional memory lapses can be frustrating, but in most cases, they are part of the normal aging process and not an early warning sign of dementia. Younger people can also experience difficulties with retaining or recalling information due to a variety of biological and psychological factors.

Common Causes of Memory Loss

  • Age: The hippocampus, a brain region involved in the retrieval of memories, often deteriorates with age and cognitive processing begins to slow down.
  • Menopause: Estrogen influences a number of brain functions including verbal memory. As a woman’s estrogen levels begin to drop during menopause, she may find it more difficult to recall names and words.
  • Pregnancy: Hormone fluctuations during pregnancy can affect memory, resulting in ‘baby brain’.
  • Depression: People with depression experience invasive thoughts that can interfere with their ability to take in new information, categorize it and recall it later.
  • Thyroid Disease: Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause cognitive problems such as poor concentration, memory lapses and brain fog.
  • Medication: Some prescription medications can cause memory loss as a side effect. These include sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, antihistamines and drugs for depression and anxiety.

Other common causes including stress, lack of sleep and nutritional deficiencies are discussed in detail below.

Normal Memory Lapses

The following types of ‘senior moments’ are normal and usually not warning signs of serious cognitive impairment or dementia:

  • Forgetting names of acquaintances or people to whom you’ve recently been introduced
  • Not being able to retrieve a word or fact but feeling that it is ‘on the tip of your tongue’
  • Walking into a room and forgetting why you went there
  • Opening the refrigerator when you intended to get something from a cupboard
  • Becoming distracted and forgetting what someone just told you or what you just read
  • Forgetting where you left a frequently used object

The supplements and techniques described below could help improve your memory and overall cognitive function. They may also help to prevent age-related memory problems from developing.

7 Science-Backed Remedies for Memory Loss

1. Asian Ginseng

asian ginseng roots memory loss natural remedies

Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to combat the effects of aging. Ginseng contains active components known as ginsenosides.

Ginsenosides increase internal antioxidant enzymes, helping to decrease brain cell damage due to oxidative stress. They also protect neurons from damage caused by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamate.

Research has shown that ginsenosides such as panaxydol and panaxynol can protect brain cells and prevent neurodegeneration. Rodent studies have also shown that ginsenosides reduce the accumulation of the Alzheimer’s amyloid beta peptide in the brain.

A crossover study published in Nutritional Neuroscience investigated whether ginseng had any consistent effect on aspects of cognitive performance. Researcher recruited 20 healthy young volunteers who were given four different supplements in random order: 200, 400 or 600 mg of ginseng capsules or a placebo capsule.

The participants took a battery of computerized cognitive tests under each condition between 1-6 hours after taking the capsule. There was a significant improvement in scores for quality of memory and episodic memory at all time points following 400 mg of Ginseng.

A study published in the Journal of Ginseng Research investigated the effects of 8-weeks administration of ginseng on cognitive performance.  A total of 16 healthy young participants were treated with ginseng extract capsules and placebo capsules for 8-weeks in random order with a 4-week wash-out between treatments.

On days 1, 29, and 57, the participants were given a battery of computerized cognitive tests and completed mood questionnaires. Ginseng treatment significantly improved performance on working memory tasks. It also improved subjective ratings of quality of life and mood.

A clinical study published in Alzheimer Disease & Associated Disorders investigated the efficacy of ginseng in the cognitive performance of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Researchers randomly assigned 58 Alzheimer’s patients to receive 4.5 grams per day of ginseng powder. Another 39 patients served as a control group. Both groups also continued conventional therapy.

Patients’ cognitive performances were monitored using the standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Alzheimer disease assessment scale (ADAS) during the 12-week ginseng treatment and at 12 weeks following discontinuation of ginseng.

After ginseng supplementation, both the cognitive subscale of ADAS and the MMSE score began to show improvements which continued up to 12 weeks. At 12 weeks after ginseng discontinuation, the improved cognition scores declined to the levels of the control group. Researchers concluded that ginseng treatment was clinically effective for improving cognitive function in Alzheimer disease patients.

Method: When choosing an Asian ginseng (also known as Korean ginseng) supplement, keep in mind that the weight of ginseng root extract in milligrams doesn’t tell you how much of the active ingredients it contains. Compare labels and look for a supplement containing at least 24mg of ginsenosides.


2. Ginkgo Biloba

gingko biloba memory loss natural remedies

Gingko biloba is currently among the most popular supplements for boosting memory and preventing dementia.

Gingko biloba, also known as the maidenhair tree, is one of the oldest species of tree in the world. Its leaves were used in ancient Chinese medicine to promote energy flow through the body.

Research has shown that compounds in Gingko including terpene trilactones and flavonoids cross the blood–brain barrier and enter the central nervous system. These substances improve oxygen-rich blood flow to the brain, promoting healthy growth of neural connections. They also help protect against neurodegenerative diseases.

A population-based study published in PLOS One investigated the effect of Ginkgo biloba on long-term cognitive decline within a cohort of 3,612 non-demented participants aged 65 and over. The researchers analyzed data collected over 20 years of follow-up during home visits by trained psychologists. Cognitive function was assessed with the standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and separate tests for visual memory and verbal fluency. Participants were asked about their physical health and all medications consumed.

Within the cohort, 589 subjects reported taking Ginkgo biloba extract and 149 reported taking piracetam, a memory enhancing ‘smart drug’. Data from these groups were compared with each other and with data from the 2,874 subjects who did not report use of either supplement.

The decline in MMSE scores was significantly lower in the group who used Ginkgo biloba. At the end of the 20-year follow-up, the gingko group scored about 5 points better on the 30-point MMSE, which the researchers considered an important and clinically relevant difference.  Surprisingly, the piracetam group did not perform as well as the Gingko group and the ‘neither treatment’ group all along the follow-up period in the three tests studied.

A Chinese study tested the efficacy of Ginkgo biloba in improving episodic memory in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). A total of 120 MCI patients aged 60-85 were randomized into 2 groups. The treatment group took 19.2 mg of Ginkgo biloba leaf tablets 3 times a day. The control group received their usual care. At the beginning and end of the study, the patients were assessed with a picture recognition test and a logical memory test.

After 6 months, the scores on both memory tests increased significantly in the Ginkgo biloba group. There was no statistically significant difference in test scores for the control group. The positive rate of picture recognition in the Ginkgo group was 55% compared to 33% in the control group and the efficacy rate of logical memory was 59% in the treatment group, compared to 38% in the control group.

A controlled trial published in Neurology assessed the efficacy of Ginkgo biloba extract on delaying the progression to cognitive impairment in the elderly. A total of 118 people over age 85 with normal memory function were randomized to receive either daily supplements containing 240 mg of Ginkgo biloba extract or a placebo.

Over 3 years, the participants underwent 6-month follow-up visits to assess health status changes and MMSE scores. Researchers also conducted a pill count to determine whether the subjects were taking their supplements as instructed.  Annual visits included extensive cognitive testing and clinical examinations.

During the study twice as many people in the placebo group developed mild cognitive impairment compared to the gingko group, but because of the small sample size, the difference was not statistically significant. When the researchers re-analyzed the data using only subjects who took their pills as instructed in the proper dosage, the results showed that the ginkgo biloba takers had a 67% lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment.

Method: Look for an extract of Gingko biloba supplement standardized to contain 24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones. Take 120 mg daily.


3. DHA

dha omega 3 fatty acid walnuts salmon chestnut avocado memory loss natural remedies

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that is an integral component of neurons and plays an important role in brain function.

Dietary DHA is deposited in the brain’s hippocampus where it enhances synaptic transmission. Memory cells communicate and transmit messages more easily when there are higher levels of DHA in this region of the brain.

Rodent studies have shown that DHA accumulates in areas of the brain involved in memory and attention and that low levels of DHA can reduce memory-related learning ability. DHA deficiency is common among vegetarians and people who rarely consume fish or seafood.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition tested potential associations between omega-3 fatty acids and cognitive functioning in middle-aged adults. Researchers recruited 280 volunteers aged 35-54 who were not taking fish oil supplements. All of the participants had their blood tested for levels of ALA, EPA and DHA. They then took a 75-minute battery of neuropsychological tests. Higher DHA levels were related to better performance on tests of nonverbal reasoning, vocabulary, mental flexibility, working memory. Neither EPA nor ALA was significantly related to any dimensions of cognitive performance.

A double-blind trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated whether DHA supplements improve cognitive performance in healthy young adults. A total of 176 participants aged 18-45 who had a low intake of dietary DHA were randomized to receive either 1.15 grams of DHA per day or a placebo for 6 months.

Before and after supplementation, participants took a battery of computerized tests including word recall, picture recognition and letter-number sequencing. Compared with the placebo, DHA supplementation significantly improved reaction times on tasks associated with episodic and working memory.

A randomized controlled trial published in Psychopharmacology investigated the effects of fish oil supplementation on mild cognitive impairment (MCI). A total of 36 elderly subjects with MCI were assigned to receive either concentrated DHA fish oil supplements or placebo capsules for 12 months. Cognitive tests before and after supplementation assessed changes in memory. The fish oil group showed significant improvement in short-term and working memory, immediate verbal memory and delayed recall capability.

A meta-analysis published in PLOS One examined the effect of DHA intake on specific memory domains in healthy adults. Researchers combined data from 15 trials in which subjects with mild memory complaints or no cognitive complaints were treated with fish oil or DHA supplements. The trials averaged 4-6 months and most enrolled at least 100 subjects. The data showed that supplementation with at least 1 gram per day of fish oil significantly improved episodic memory (memory of personally experienced events) regardless of cognitive status.

Method: Aim to eat at least two servings per week of oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, fresh tuna or swordfish.

There are several types of DHA supplements available including fish oil, cod liver oil and krill oil. Vegetarians can obtain DHA from algae oil supplements.


4. Curcumin

curcumin turmeric orange powder roots memory loss natural remedies

Curcumin is a polyphenolic compound found in the curry spice turmeric. It may help boost memory and reduce cognitive decline through three different mechanisms.

In addition to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, it increases the expression of enzymes which degrade beta-amyloid proteins. Beta-amyloid proteins build up at brain synapses and interfere with communication between cells.

Research has shown that curcumin’s potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, both of which have been linked to memory impairment. Rodent studies have demonstrated that curcumin can also help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.

A cohort study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology examined the association between usual curry consumption and cognitive performance in elderly Asians. Researchers interviewed 1,010 subjects aged 60–93 about their frequency of curry consumption and assessed their cognitive function using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).

The data revealed that participants who consumed curry occasionally, often or very often had significantly better MMSE scores than subjects who never or rarely consumed curry. The difference in scores between curry-eaters and non-curry eaters was equivalent to a 10-year age difference.

A study published in Psychopharmacology investigated the effects of curcumin on cognition and mood in an older population. Researchers recruited 60 healthy volunteers aged 60-85 and randomized them into two groups.  The treatment group received 400 mg of curcumin capsules formulated for increased bioavailability. The control group received placebo capsules.

One hour and 3 hours after taking the capsules, the participants completed computerized cognitive tasks such as mental subtraction, word and picture recall and reaction time tests. They repeated the cognitive tasks after taking the supplements for 4 weeks. After 1 hour, curcumin significantly improved performance on working memory and sustained attention tasks compared with the placebo. After 4 weeks of treatment, working memory and vigilance were significantly better and mood was improved. Participants also reported reduced fatigue, less stress and improved calmness and contentedness.

An 18-month trial published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry studied the effect of curcumin on memory in healthy, non-demented older adults. A total of 40 subjects aged 51–84 were randomized to receive 90 mg of a bioavailable form of curcumin or placebo capsules twice daily.

At the start and end of the trial, the participants performed standardized cognitive assessment tasks. After 18 months the curcumin group showed significant improvements in verbal memory, visual memory and sustained attention and also had mild improvements in mood. The placebo group did not have significant improvements in any cognitive domain.

The researchers also performed PET scans on a subgroup of 30 subjects at the start and end of the study to determine the level of proteins linked to Alzheimer’s disease. After 18 months brain scans of the curcumin group showed significantly less accumulation of amyloid plaques and tau tangles in brain regions modulating mood and memory.

Method: If you cook curries with turmeric you can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by adding ground black pepper.

When choosing a curcumin supplement, look for ones containing at least 700 mg of active curcuminoids in a bioavailable formula.


5. Vitamin B-12

vitamin b12 fish salmon eggs liver mussels memory loss natural remedies

Vitamin B-12 deficiency is a surprisingly common cause of memory loss symptoms. It is essential for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system.

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the maintenance of the myelin sheaths that cover and protect the nerves, ensuring effective nerve-impulse transmission. People tend to become less efficient at absorbing vitamin B-12 from food as they age, so vitamin B-12 insufficiency often occurs in older people.

Because there are no plant-derived foods that supply a sustainable amount of vitamin B-12, vegetarians and vegans of any age can suffer a deficiency unless they take supplements or eat fortified processed foods. Research has shown that even adolescents following a vegan diet can suffer from neurologic disorders and impaired cognitive performance.

A study published in Neurology investigated the interrelations of vitamin B-12 markers with cognitive performance.  Researchers took blood samples from 121 people aged 65 and over enrolled in the Chicago Health and Aging Project and tested them for metabolites that can indicate a B12 deficiency. The participants took neuropsychological tests measuring their memory and other cognitive skills and, 4-5 years later, MRI scans were taken to measure their total brain volume.

The data showed that high concentrations of four markers for vitamin B-12 deficiency were associated with lower global cognitive function and smaller brain volume. High levels of B-12 deficiency markers were specifically linked to poorer episodic memory, semantic memory and perceptual speed.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined whether levels of vitamin B-12 within the normal range were linked to memory functions in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Researchers recruited 100 patients who had been diagnosed with MCI and measured their blood levels of vitamin B-12. Their cognitive performance was assessed with a word learning and word recall test. Participants also underwent MRI scans to reveal brain structures associated with memory.

MCI patients with vitamin B-12 concentrations in the low-normal range showed significantly poorer memory performance, learning ability and recognition scores in comparison with MCI patients with high-normal vitamin B12 concentrations. MRI scans showed that the low-normal B-12 group also had reduced structural integrity of the hippocampus.

A 2-year controlled trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated whether folic acid and vitamin B-12 supplementation could reduce cognitive decline in the older population.  A cohort of 900 adults aged 60-74 with depressive symptoms were randomized to receive supplement tablets containing oral 400 ug of folic acid and 100 ug of vitamin B-12 or placebo tablets.

At the start of the study, and at 12 and 24 months, researchers assessed participants’ cognitive function using a standardized screening test called the Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status–Modified (TICS-M). After 24 months, the supplementation group showed significantly greater improvements in overall cognitive functioning scores compared to the placebo group. They also showed significant improvements in immediate and delayed memory performance.

Method:  Foods rich in vitamin B-12 include fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products.

Vegans and people over aged 50 should take a daily 1,000 mcg of B-12 supplement.


6. Stress Management

stress management peace memory loss natural remedies

In stressful situations, the adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol as part of the ‘fight or flight’ response.

High levels of cortisol in the bloodstream associated with chronic stress have been linked to impaired memory and cognitive function. An excess of cortisol can impair the ability of the hippocampus to both encode memories and retrieve information.

Chronic stress can also trigger an immune response which causes inflammation in the brain, leading to short-term memory loss.

Research on rodents has shown that repeated, long-term exposure to cortisol can lead to the gradual loss of synapses in the prefrontal cortex, the region of the brain that stores short-term memories.

A Danish study examined whether work-related stress can cause impaired concentration and memory. Researchers matched 59 outpatients on sick leave due to work-related stress with 59 healthy controls of the same age, sex and educational level. The participants were all assessed with a battery of neuropsychological tests.

Compared to controls, the stressed patients showed reduced performance across all the measured cognitive domains. Significant differences between patients and controls were seen on tests of complex working memory, prospective memory and processing speed.

A longitudinal study published in Psychology and Aging examined the association between stress, memory problems and cognitive decline. A cohort of 112 men and women aged 34-83 took a battery of 7 cognitive tests which measured working memory, reasoning and speed of processing. They repeated the same tests 10 years later to give an indication of age-related cognitive degeneration.

Over 12 weeks following the second cognitive assessment, the participants filled in surveys about daily stressors such as spousal disagreements and everyday memory failures such as difficulty dividing attention between two activities. The participants also provided saliva samples to assess levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Participants with greater cognitive decline reported more memory problems, but they had greater increases in memory problems during times of stress as measured by both their weekly self-reports and their cortisol profiles.

Obesity can lead to elevated cortisol responses to stress. A study published in the journal Stress explored stress-induced cognitive impairment in centrally obese individuals. Researchers divided 66 middle-aged adults into groups according to their waist-to-hip ratio.

The participants underwent a stress protocol that required them to prepare and deliver a speech and verbally respond to a challenging arithmetic problem while being judged by an audience. Their post-stress cognitive performance was evaluated using a battery of computer-based neuropsychological tests. Exposure to stress and increasing waist-to-hip ratio were specifically associated with poorer performance on declarative memory tasks including spatial recognition memory and paired associates learning.

Method: To keep your cortisol levels under control, learn to relax with various stress management techniques and find a stress-relieving activity that you enjoy doing on a regular basis.

You can try mindfulness, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi or nature walks. Make it a point to work ‘me time’ into your daily schedule.


7. Sleep

sleep memory loss natural remedies.

Sleep is vital for memory and learning. During the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, newly acquired information is consolidated in memory.

Slow brain waves generated during deep sleep plays a key role in transporting memories from the short-term storage area in the brain’s hippocampus to long-term storage area in the prefrontal cortex.

Sleep disruption in the elderly is a contributing factor to age-related cognitive decline. As people age, grey matter in the prefrontal cortex gradually shrinks, causing a reduction in slow wave activity during non–rapid eye movement sleep.

In addition, many older people experience disrupted sleep due to chronic medical conditions such as arthritis, gastric reflux disorder or sleep apnea.

A prospective study published in Sleep examined whether sleep duration was associated with memory decline or development of memory impairment. A cohort of 13,888 participants aged 50 and over with no memory impairment at the start of the study were followed up for an average of 4 years.

All of the participants were interviewed about lifestyle factions and sleeping habits including night-time sleep duration and day-time napping. Their memory was assessed using a standardized word recall test. A subset of 6,020 participants also had their cognitive function assessed with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).

Over the follow-up period, 980 participants developed memory impairment. Compared to those who slept an average of 7 hours per day, participants with sleep duration of 5 hours or less had significant declines in MMSE scores. This association remained after adjusting for factors such as smoking, physical activity and health status.

A study published in PLOS One examined the impact of a daytime sleep opportunity on working memory. A total of 80 healthy students aged 17-23 were randomized to a nap group or a wake group. At 1 pm the participants spent an hour taking a variety of tests that measured vigilance, attention and working memory.

Then the nap group were allowed to sleep for 90 minutes while monitored by polysomnography. Meanwhile, the wake group spent time using electronic devices or doing homework. At 5:30pm, all the participants completed another session of cognitive tests.

The nap group had significantly higher accuracy on the working memory task and fewer lapses on the vigilance test. Unsurprisingly, they also reported less sleepiness than the wake group. Within the nap-group, working memory scores were positively correlated with duration of rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and total sleep time.

A crossover study published in Sleep investigated the effects of sleep duration on the ability to recall learned information during periods of stress. Researchers invited 15 healthy young men to a sleep laboratory and randomized them to a 4-hour or 8-hour sleep condition. At 10 pm, the participants completed a declarative memory task similar to the game ‘concentration’ in which they learned the locations of matching pairs of cards. The long sleep group went to bed at 11 pm and the short sleep group went to bed at 3 am.

Both groups were woken at 7 am and repeated the declarative memory task at 8:30 am. The participants then underwent a 30-minute stress protocol which involved intense and demanding tasks such as memorizing words while a loud beeping noise played through their headphones. They then repeated the ‘concentration’ task.

Following the stress protocol, participants who got only 4 hours of sleep were unable to maintain their pre-stress performance on the declarative memory task. In contrast, those who got a full night’s sleep recalled card locations just as well after being subjected to stress.

Method:  Aim to get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Follow these 7 Tips on How to Get Better Sleep and try these Remedies to Cure Insomnia.


Final Word

If you find yourself experiencing minor memory lapses or ‘senior moments’, use these coping strategies to help prevent them from disrupting your daily routine.

  • When someone gives you important information, repeat it back to them to help cement it in your mind.
  • Write down appointments, meetings and social functions in a diary or on a calendar.
  • Make shopping lists and ‘to do’ lists.
  • Have specific places to keep frequently used items such as keys or glasses and always return them there.
  • If you’re busy multitasking, set an alarm to help remind you to do something at a particular time.
  • Put items you need to deal with later in plain sight. For example, if you need to return a library book, leave it on the coffee table, not in the book shelf.
  • Don’t agree to do something when you’re busy and distracted. Discuss the request when you have time to focus on it.

7 Best Remedies to Lower High Cholesterol Levels Naturally

high cholesterol blocked remedies foods

High blood cholesterol is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease. A report from the American Heart Association estimates that 16% of American adults have high total cholesterol.

The Interheart Study of heart disease in 52 countries reports that people with abnormal cholesterol levels have three times the risk of heart attack compared to those with normal cholesterol levels.

What is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of fat produced by the liver. It is a vital component of cell membranes and is needed for the synthesis of vitamin D. It is required for the production of hormones in the adrenal glands and the production of sex hormones. Cholesterol also plays a role in brain and immune system function.

Cholesterol is carried in the blood wrapped in substances called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), carries cholesterol toward the tissues. High-density lipoprotein (HDL), gathers it from the tissues and transport it to the liver.

LDL is known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol because it is found within the arterial plaques that causes atherosclerosis. Heart attack or stroke may occur if a blood clot blocks an artery narrowed by plaque deposits.

HDL is known as the ‘good’ cholesterol because it scavenges cholesterol from the tissues and may help to prevent it from building up in the linings of the coronary arteries.

Cholesterol Testing

A standard blood cholesterol test will show levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and a form of fat called triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides indicate low levels of HDL. LDL cholesterol is usually not measured directly, but is calculated based on total cholesterol, HDL and triglycerides.

Most health care professionals in the U.S. use the following guidelines:

Total Cholesterol:

  • 200 mg/dL or less is normal
  • 201 to 240 mg/dL is borderline
  • 240 mg/dL or more is high

HDL Cholesterol:

  • 60 mg/dL or higher is protective
  • 40 to 59 mg/dL is normal
  • Less than 40 mg/dL is low

LDL Cholesterol:

  • Less than 100 mg/dL is ideal for people at risk of heart disease
  • 100 to 129 mg/dL is good
  • 130 to 159 mg/dL is borderline (high)
  • 160 to 189 mg/dL is high

High levels of cholesterol, especially in people with other risk factors for heart disease, are often treated with statin drugs which reduce the production of LDL cholesterol by the liver.

Stains can have side effects including muscle pain, digestive problems, liver inflammation, high blood sugar and cognitive impairment.

Statins also are not beneficial for everyone with high cholesterol. A meta-analysis of clinical trials publish in JAMA concluded that for women without cardiovascular disease, cholesterol-lowering drugs do not affect mortality rates from coronary heart disease. Even in women with known cardiovascular disease, statins do not affect overall mortality rates.

Fortunately, several foods have been shown to lower cholesterol in randomized controlled trials. Incorporating more of these into your diet could help to lower your cholesterol naturally.

7 Super Foods that Lower Cholesterol

1. Tomatoes

high cholesterol red ripe tomatoes natural remedies

Lycopene is a carotenoid responsible for the distinctive red colour in tomatoes and watermelon. It is also found in pink grapefruit, papaya, guava and rosehip.

Laboratory research has shown that lycopene inhibits cholesterol synthesis through a mechanism similar to that of the statin drug Fluvastatin. It also has antioxidant effects and can help to prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol which is associated with atherosclerosis.

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition examined the relationship between lycopene intake and incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Researchers analyzed data from 10 years of food frequency questionnaires completed by 5,135 participants in the Framingham Heart Study offspring cohort.

Consumption of tomato products was measured as servings per week of tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato juice and pizza. Lycopene intake was calculated from food sources and multivitamins. Incidents of CVD were obtained from hospital records.

There were 314 cases of CVD over the study period. Both consumption of tomato products and total lycopene intake were found to be inversely related to coronary heart disease, such that the more lycopene consumed, the lower the risk.

A dietary intervention study investigated the effects of tomato products on cholesterol and LDL oxidation. Researchers recruited 21 healthy participants and asked them to abstain from consuming tomato products for 3 weeks. Next the participants went on a 3-week diet including 400 ml of tomato juice and 30 mg of tomato ketchup daily.

Both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol were significantly reduced on the tomato diet compared to the tomato-free diet. The changes in cholesterol concentrations correlated significantly with the changes in blood levels of lycopene. The tomato diet also significantly increased LDL resistance to oxidation.

A pilot study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology Research examined the potential of a lycopene supplement as an alternative to hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the prevention of coronary artery disease in postmenopausal women. A total of 41 healthy postmenopausal women were randomized to receive either combined HRT or supplements containing 2,000 µg of lycopene.

After 6 months HRT reduced total cholesterol by 24% and LDL cholesterol by 20%. It increased HDL cholesterol by 39%. Lycopene supplements reduced total cholesterol by 24% and LDL cholesterol by 15%. They increased HDL cholesterol by 26%. The researchers concluded that lycopene supplements can be used as an alternative to HRT to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women.

A meta-analysis examined the protective effect of lycopene on LDL cholesterol levels. When researchers analyzed the combined results of 8 trials with lycopene doses ranging from 4-44 mg daily, there was only a borderline significant reduction of LDL cholesterol in the lycopene group compared with the control group.

However, when the analysis focused on 4 trials using a lycopene dose at or above 25 mg a day, they found that it reduced LDL cholesterol by an average of 10%. The researchers note that this decrease is comparable to the effect of low doses of statin drugs and is clinically significant.

Method: The best dietary source of lycopene is red ripe tomatoes. Cooking and processing them further increases the lycopene content and bioavailability. Fresh tomatoes contain 3-5 ml of lycopene per 100 grams, whereas concentrated tomato paste contains 49-94 mg per 100 grams.

Lycopene capsules and tablets are available from health product suppliers. Take a daily dose containing 25-40 mg of lycopene to benefit from its cholesterol-lowering properties.


2. Walnuts

high cholesterol walnuts heart health natural remedies

Walnuts are a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3.

Research has shown that alpha-linolenic acid from walnuts stimulates LDL receptor activity in the cells and promotes the removal of LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, thereby decreasing LDL cholesterol concentrations.

In light of increasing evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a labelling health claim that daily consumption of 1.5 ounces of walnuts reduces the risk of heart disease.

A crossover trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine assessed the effect of a walnut-enriched diet in men and women who had high cholesterol levels. Researchers randomly assigned half of the patients to eat a cholesterol-lowering Mediterranean diet with an emphasis on vegetables, fish and olive oil. Nuts were not allowed. The other half ate a similar Mediterranean diet with walnuts making up 35% of the fat content.

The patients followed their assigned diet for 6-weeks, then switched to the other type of diet for a further 6-weeks. Cholesterol levels were measured at the start and end of each diet. The Mediterranean diet alone decreased cholesterol levels by approximately 5%. Adding walnuts to the diet reduced total and LDL cholesterol by an additional 5%.

A clinical trial published in Metabolism assessed the effect of a walnut-enriched diet on cholesterol levels in 40 men and women aged 50 and over. Subjects were randomized to one of two diets: a Western-type diet consisting of 35% fat, 15% protein and 50% carbohydrates or a walnut-enriched diet which replaced 30 grams of saturated fat with 43 grams of walnuts. Subjects followed each diet for 8-weeks with a 2-week washout period in between.

Compared with the control diet, the walnut diet significantly reduced non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein-B, the primary protein component of LDL particles. Both non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein-B are strongly associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

A systematic review published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effects of walnut consumption on cholesterol and other cardiovascular risk factors. Researchers analyzed data from 13 dietary intervention studies lasting 4-24 weeks with 365 participants. When compared with control diets, high-walnut-enriched diets resulted in a significantly greater decrease in total cholesterol and in LDL-cholesterol.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition aimed to discover which components of walnuts were responsible for lowering cardiovascular disease risk. Researchers recruited 15 overweight adults with moderately high cholesterol and asked them to consume whole walnuts, walnut skins, defatted walnut meat and walnut oil.

The walnut components were consumed in random order in 4 weekly sessions. Blood samples were taken at various intervals following the walnut meal and an endothelial function test was conducted measure blood flow through the arteries.

Analysis of the results showed that walnuts protect against cardiovascular disease in two ways. Consumption of the whole nut significantly lowers cholesterol and consumption of walnut oil significantly improves blood vessel function.

Method: Substitute walnuts for unhealthy snacks like potato or corn chips and substitute omega-3 walnut oil for omega-6 vegetable oils.


3. Cocoa & Dark Chocolate

high cholesterol cocoa powder dark chocolate natural remedies

The cacao bean is rich in oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat found in heart-healthy olive oil. It also contains flavonoids, polyphenols which act as powerful antioxidants and helps to protect LDL from dangerous oxidation.

Research has shown that polyphenols can also inhibit cholesterol absorption and biosynthesis. In addition to lowering cholesterol, cocoa or dark chocolate can help to protect against cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation.

An Australian study published in the BMJ concluded that providing people at high risk of cardiovascular disease with a daily bar of dark chocolate would be an effective and cost-effective disease-prevention strategy.

A population study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine evaluated whether cocoa intake was inversely related to cardiovascular mortality in elderly men. A cohort of 470 Dutch men aged 65-84 were followed up for 15 years. Every 5 years they were interviewed by a dietitian about their food intake over the previous month. The intake of cocoa from 24 individual foods was used to yield actual cocoa in grams per day for each subject.

Over the course of the study, 314 men died, and 152 of those deaths were due to cardiovascular diseases. Compared to those who consumed the least cocoa, those who consumed the most had a 45-50% lower risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death.

The researchers theorized that cocoa-containing foods could reduce cardiovascular risk due to their beneficial effect on blood pressure, cholesterol levels and prevention of LDL oxidation.

A trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined whether long-term intake of cocoa powder alters cholesterol profiles. Researchers recruited 25 healthy male participants and divided them into two groups matched for BMI and cholesterol levels. One group consumed 12 grams of sugar dissolved in hot water daily. The other consumed hot chocolate made up of 12 grams of sugar and 26 grams of cocoa powder.

Blood samples were taken at the start of the study and after 12-weeks. In the cocoa group, there was a 23% increase in HDL cholesterol and a 13% decrease in LDL cholesterol. In the control group, HDL increased by 5% and LDL decreased by 5%. Consumption of cocoa powder also significantly increased the resistance of LDL to oxidation.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition evaluated LDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations following the consumption of different amounts of cocoa powder. Researchers divided 160 healthy men and women into 4 groups with similar cholesterol levels. One group got a placebo cocoa-flavored drink. The other 3 groups received beverages containing 13, 19.5 or 26 grams of cocoa powder daily for 4 weeks.

Blood tests showed favorable results for all 3 cocoa groups compared to the placebo group. Consumption of cocoa powder at a dosage of 13 grams per day or more decreased levels of LDL cholesterol, raised levels of HDL cholesterol and reduced oxidized LDL.

A meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effects of dark chocolate/cocoa product consumption on cholesterol. Researchers analyzed data from 10 randomized controlled trials from 6 countries with 320 participants. The studies compared dark chocolate or cocoa with a placebo or white chocolate and treatment ranged from 2-12 weeks.

The combined data showed that consumption of dark chocolate/cocoa products resulted in a statistically significant reduction in LDL and total cholesterol. The dark chocolate/cocoa effect was strongest in subjects with higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Method: Choose a dark chocolate bar with at least 70% cocoa. Four squares or 1.4 ounces of 70% dark chocolate contain about 250 calories.

If you are watching your weight don’t simply add a daily dose of dark chocolate to your usual diet, substitute it for another treat with a similar number of calories.


4. Oats/Beta Glucan

high cholesterol oats rolled bran heart health natural remedies

A type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan gives oatmeal porridge its pasty texture. When it reaches the gut, beta-glucan forms a thick gel which sticks to cholesterol and reduces its absorption. The gel and cholesterol are then excreted as part of the body’s waste.

Research has shown that beta-glucan also boosts the excretion of bile acids, which are needed for digestion. The body then uses cholesterol to make more bile acid, which results in a reduction in cholesterol circulating in the blood.

The US Food and Drug Association has approved a labelling claim associating beta glucan soluble fiber from oat bran, rolled oats or whole oat flour with reduced risk of heart disease.

A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics evaluated a whole-grain, ready-to-eat oat cereal as part of a weight loss program. A total of 144 overweight and obese adults were put on a low calorie, low fat diet. Half the participants were instructed to eat two portions of oat cereal a day. The other half ate low fiber foods containing the same number of calories. Cholesterol levels, waist circumference and body weight were measured every 4-weeks. After 12-weeks, both groups lost approximately the same amount of weight. However, the oat cereal group had significantly greater reductions in LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and non-HDL cholesterol levels.

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the effects of oat bran and wheat bran on cholesterol levels. A total of 20 men admitted to a metabolic ward with high cholesterol were put on a diet that was identical in calories and nutrients but differed in the amount of soluble fiber. Half the men received oat bran and half received wheat bran. After 21 days, oat bran significantly decreased total cholesterol by 13%, LDL cholesterol by 12 %, triglycerides by 10% and apolipoprotein B by 14%. Wheat bran had no significant effect.

A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effect of oat beta-glucan on cholesterol concentrations in humans. Researchers compiled data from 28 randomized controlled trials comparing food products containing oats to similar products without soluble fiber. The trials included used doses of oat beta-glucan ranging from 3-12 grams per day and durations of treatment between 2–12 weeks.

The analysis concluded that any dose of oat beta-glucan over 3 grams per day significantly reduced LDL and total cholesterol. There was no evidence that higher doses of oat beta-glucan reduced cholesterol more than lower doses. There was a significantly greater cholesterol lowering effect in subjects with diabetes compared with those without.

Method: To get 3 grams of beta-glucan, aim to eat 2-4 portions of oat-based foods every day.

Start the day with a bowl of hot oatmeal or cold oat-based breakfast cereal. Use oat bread for toast or sandwiches. Top yogurt with toasted oats or granola.


5. Green Tea

high cholesterol green tea leaves heart health natural remedies

Green tea contains polyphenols known as catechins, including a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).

Research has shown that that green tea catechins, particularly EGCG, interfere with the intestinal absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol and increase LDL receptor activity in the liver. Catechins also possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties activities which effectively inhibit LDL oxidation and help to prevent atherosclerosis.

A population-based study published in Annals of Epidemiology investigated the association between green tea consumption and deaths from cardiovascular disease. A cohort of 14,000 Japanese men and women aged 65-84 completed questionnaires that included items about frequency of green tea consumption.

During 6 years of follow-up there were 1,224 deaths. Those who drank the most green tea were 76% less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than those who drank the least. Green tea consumption was also associated with reduced mortality from all causes.

Another Japanese study investigated the preventive effects of green tea against cardiovascular disease in 1,371 men aged over 40. The participants all gave blood samples during an annual health screening. They also completed surveys about lifestyle factors including green tea consumption. Increased consumption of green tea was associated with decreased blood concentrations of total cholesterol and triglyceride and an increased proportion of HDL cholesterol together with a decreased proportion of LDL cholesterol.

A clinical trial published in the Archives of Internal Medicine examined the effect of a green tea extract supplement on cholesterol levels. A total of 240 patients with mild-to-moderately elevated cholesterol were randomized to receive either capsules containing 150 mg of green tea catechins or placebo capsules. They were instructed to take one capsule daily for 12-weeks. The catenin extract capsules lowered total cholesterol by 11%, LDL cholesterol by 16% and triglycerides by 4%. HDL was raised by 2%. There were no significant changes in cholesterol in the placebo group.

A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effect of green tea on cholesterol levels. Researchers collected data from 14 randomized controlled trials with 1,136 subjects. Trials used either green tea beverages or green tea extract and ranged in duration from 3 weeks to 3 months.

The analysis showed that both green tea beverages and green tea extract supplementation significantly reduce total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations. The cholesterol changes were not influenced by treatment doses of green tea catechins, health status of participants or study duration.

Method: If you drink black tea or coffee on a regular basis, try switching to green tea. Alternatively, take a daily green tea supplement containing at least 175 mg of EGCG.


6. Avocados

high cholesterol avocados green heart health natural remedies

Avocados are a good source of oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat found in heart-healthy olive oil.

Research has shown that oleic acid can inhibit cholesterol synthesis. One Hass avocado contains approximately 13 grams of oleic acid, which is approximately the amount in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Other nutrients in avocados may boost their cholesterol-lowering effects.

A crossover trial published in the Journal of the American Heart Association investigated the effect of avocados on cholesterol levels in 45 overweight and obese adults. The participants were assigned to a sequence of 3 different 5-week diets presented in random order: a low-fat diet, a moderate‐fat diet with oleic acid oils, or a moderate‐fat diet which included one fresh Hass avocado per day.

All 3 diets significantly decreased LDL and total cholesterol. However, the reduction was significantly greater in the avocado diet than either the low-fat or moderate-fat group. Avocado consumption reduced LDL cholesterol by 10%, total cholesterol by 8% and non‐HDL cholesterol by 9%.

Since the avocado diet was better at lowering cholesterol than the moderate-fat diet which included the same amount of oleic acid, the researchers concluded that the health benefits of avocados must be partly due to other nutrients or bioactives beside fatty acids.

A trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the effects of an avocado-enriched diet and a high-complex-carbohydrate diet on cholesterol concentrations. Researchers assigned 15 women to two 3-week diets in random order. The AHA-III diet was similar to that recommended by the American Heart Association. The avocado-enriched diet was high in monounsaturated fatty acids.

Both diets lowered total cholesterol, but the avocado diet was more effective, with an 8% decrease compared to a 5% decrease for the AHA-III diet. LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B decreased significantly on the avocado diet, but not on AHA-III. HDL cholesterol did not change on the avocado diet, but decreased by 14% on the AHA-III diet.

A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology examined the impact of avocado-enriched diets on cholesterol levels. Researchers extracted data from 10 randomized clinical trials with 229 participants in which avocados were added to the diet or substituted for other sources of fat. The analysis showed that avocado consumption significantly reduced total cholesterol by 18.80 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol by 16.50 mg/dL and triglycerides by 27.20 mg/dL.

Method: Avocados are great when eaten whole or in sandwiches, salads or smoothies.

The hollow pit made when you remove the stone makes them ideal for stuffing with seafood or mixed vegetables. You can even use avocado in baking.


7. Garlic

high cholesterol garlic cloves heart health natural remedies

Garlic contains a variety of organosulfur compounds such as allicin that have beneficial effects in the body.

Animal studies have shown that compounds in garlic inhibit enzymes that help to produce cholesterol in the liver, lowering concentrations of cholesterol in the blood.

A clinical trial published in the American Journal of Medicine assessed the effects of garlic powder tablets on cholesterol levels. A total of 42 men and women with total cholesterol over 220 mg/dL were randomized to receive 900 mg of garlic supplements daily or a placebo. After 12-weeks, supplementation with garlic reduced LDL cholesterol by 11%. It also produced a significantly greater reduction in total cholesterol compared to the placebo.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the effects of garlic and fish-oil supplementation on cholesterol levels. Researchers assigned 50 men with moderately high cholesterol to one of four groups: 2 placebo capsules; placebo + 12 grams fish oil; 900 mg garlic + placebo; 900 mg garlic + 12 grams fish oil. The men took the capsules daily for 12-weeks.

There was no change in cholesterol in the placebo group. Total cholesterol was reduced by 12% in the garlic group and the garlic and fish oil group but was not significantly reduced in the group that had fish oil alone. LDL-cholesterol was reduced by 14% in the garlic group and 10% in the garlic and fish oil group. The garlic groups also had significantly lower ratios of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol.

A meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine assessed garlic’s effect on total cholesterol in people with cholesterol levels greater than 200 mg/dL. The pooled data showed that patients treated with garlic had a consistently greater reduction in total cholesterol levels compared with those given a placebo. The researchers concluded that one half to one clove of garlic daily decreased total cholesterol by about 9%.

Method: To get the most benefit from garlic, finely chop or crush it to release the sulfur compounds and combine it with cooked food shortly before serving.

Alternatively, take a 900 mg of a garlic supplement daily.


Final Word

To lower your cholesterol naturally, cut out junk food, fast food and processed foods and cook simple dishes with fresh ingredients.

Replace unhealthy choices with cholesterol-lowering foods. Don’t rely on one single food from those listed above. If you consume oatmeal for breakfast, avocado salad for lunch and baked chicken in tomato and garlic sauce for dinner, you’ll benefit from the combined effects of their different cholesterol-lowering properties.

5 Natural Remedies & Supplements for Leaky Gut Syndrome

leaky gut stomach natural remedies

Leaky gut syndrome is a controversial subject. Naturopaths and functional medicine practitioners tend to view leaky gut as a disorder in its own right, which, if untreated, can play a role in the development of a wide range of diseases.

More conventional physicians tend to see increased intestinal permeability as a symptom, rather than a cause, of conditions such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel diseases.

What is Leaky Gut?

The surface cells in the mucosal lining of the small intestine (epithelium) are joined by structures called desmosomes. These tight junctions between cells form a protective barrier which allows nutrients from food to be absorbed into the bloodstream while at the same time preventing the passage of harmful microorganisms and toxins into the body.

Leaky gut syndrome, or intestinal hyperpermeability, occurs when the cell junctions loosen, allowing pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, yeast or undigested food particles to pass out of the digestive system and circulate in the bloodstream. The immune system reacts to these foreign substances by triggering inflammation which can result in a wide range of symptoms.

According to a review published in BMC Gastroenterology, intestinal permeability is related to intestinal diseases including gastric ulcers, infectious diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, colorectal cancer and esophageal cancer. It is also associated with non-intestinal inflammatory and autoimmune diseases including allergies, dermatitis, respiratory infections, arthritis, diabetes and coronary vascular disease.

Causes of Leaky Gut

Anything which irritates, damages or inflames the mucosal barrier that lines the intestines could result in leaky gut. Some possible causes include:

  • Gluten, gliadin and lectins in wheat and other grains or legumes
  • Refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup
  • Industrial food additives
  • Hormones and antibiotics used in intensively farmed meat
  • Chronic stress
  • Microbial imbalance
  • Environmental chemicals including pesticides and herbicides
  • Excess alcohol
  • Aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDS
  • Antibiotics

Symptoms of Leaky Gut

Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating and gas might be related to a leaky gut, but aren’t necessarily an indication of increased intestinal permeability.

Some other symptoms often attributed to leaky gut such as ‘brain fog’ and fatigue could have a wide variety of causes. In most cases, leaky gut cannot be definitively diagnosed based on symptoms alone.

Diagnosing Leaky Gut

The most widely used test for intestinal permeability is the lactulose-mannitol test.

Mannitol is a sugar-alcohol often used as a sweetener in chewing gum. Lactulose is a type of sugar found in pasteurized milk which is used to treat constipation. Lactulose molecules are larger than mannitol molecules and are less able to permeate the mucosal lining of a healthy gut.

In the lactulose-mannitol test, the patient drinks a solution containing both sugars. Urine samples are collected over the next 5-6 hours. The amount of mannitol and lactulose present in the urine reflects how much of each was absorbed by the body.

High levels of mannitol and low levels of lactulose indicate a normal intestinal lining. A similar level of both sugar molecules indicates a leaky gut.

5 Evidence-Based Treatments for a Leaky Gut

1. Probiotics

probiotics leaky gut yogurt kimchi cheeses sauerkraut miso natural remedies

Laboratory and animal studies have shown that certain bacteria in the gut release signals that increase the expression of genes involved in strengthening the mucosal barrier.

Bacteria also synthesize fatty acids from fiber that have been shown to enhance intestinal epithelial barrier function and protect against pathogens. Manipulation of the gut microflora with probiotics can simultaneously restore normal gut permeability and improve symptoms of inflammatory diseases.

A cross-over study published in the Journal of Pediatrics tested whether probiotics could alleviate intestinal inflammation and strengthen intestinal barrier function in children with atopic dermatitis. A total of 41 children aged 1-13 with moderate or severe dermatitis were randomized to receive either a probiotic supplement containing two strains of Lactobacillus or a placebo for 6-weeks.

After a 6-week wash-out period, the placebo group was switched to the active treatment and the probiotic group was switched to placebo for a further 6-weeks. Before and after each testing period the patients’ gastrointestinal symptoms were recorded and they were given a lactulose-mannitol test for intestinal permeability.

Frequency of gastrointestinal symptoms was significantly reduced during Lactobacillus supplementation from 39% down to 10%. The lactulose-to-mannitol ratio was also significantly lower after probiotic treatment than after placebo.

Following Lactobacillus supplementation 56% of patients experienced improvement in dermatitis compared to 15% when taking the placebo. There was a positive association between the lactulose-to-mannitol ratio and dermatitis severity.

Researchers concluded that impairment of the mucosal barrier appears to cause the development of atopic dermatitis. Probiotic supplementation decreased gastrointestinal symptoms and led to a clinical improvement in severity of dermatitis.

A study published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics examined the effect of probiotics on intestinal permeability in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A total of 30 patients with diarrhea‐predominant IBS were randomized to receive a probiotic fermented milk drink containing 4 types of bacteria or a placebo milk beverage. Permeability of the small intestine was measured with a lactulose-mannitol test and clinical symptoms of IBS were scored on a standard scale.

After 4-weeks of probiotic treatment, small intestine permeability was significantly reduced. The proportion of patients with leaky gut syndrome decreased from 64% to 29%. Treatment with probiotics also significantly decreased IBS symptom scores.

A trial published in Clinical Infectious Diseases examined the effect of a probiotic supplement on immune response and intestinal permeability in children with acute gastroenteritis. A total of 124 Indian children with diarrhea who tested positive for rotavirus or Cryptosporidium bacteria were enrolled in the study.

The children were randomized to receive either probiotic capsules containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus or placebo capsules daily for 4-weeks. At the beginning and end of the study they took a lactulose-mannitol test and their blood was tested for antibodies to the virus or harmful bacteria.

Children with rotavirus and cryptosporidial gastroenteritis both showed improvement in intestinal permeability after treatment with the probiotic. Children with rotavirus who were given probiotics had significantly fewer repeated episodes of diarrhea compared to those who took the placebo. They also had a significant increase in antibodies to the virus.

Method: Unpasteurized, naturally fermented foods are a good source of probiotics. They include yogurt, raw cheeses, sauerkraut, tempeh, natto, miso and kimchi.

If you choose to take probiotic supplement capsules, make sure they contain at least 15 billion colony forming units (CFUs) and at least 10 different strains of bacteria.


2. Glutamine

glutamine leaky gut amino acid powder natural remedy

Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the blood and is required for a number of metabolic functions. It is a major source of energy for intestinal epithelial cells and immune cells.

Research has shown that glutamine is an essential nutrient for gut mucosal epithelial cell growth and for regulating tight junction integrity and mucosal barrier function.

Glutamine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid. Under normal circumstances the body can manufacture adequate amounts.

However, when the body is subject to catabolic stress due to illness, infection, injury, malnutrition, prolonged exercise or environmental factors, extra glutamine is required to fight disease, repair cells or rebuild tissues. In these circumstances the epithelial cells may be starved of glutamine resulting in increased intestinal permeability.

A trial published in Clinics examined the impact of glutamine in undernourished Brazilian shantytown children with stunted growth. All of the 120 participants who were at risk for intestinal infections and diarrhea all had urinary lactulose-mannitol tests at the beginning and end of the study. They were randomized to receive either a glutamine supplement, a supplement containing glutamine, vitamin A and zinc or a placebo supplement for one year.

Glutamine, with or without vitamin A and zinc, significantly improved intestinal barrier function. Glutamine treatment also significantly enhanced physical growth compared to the placebo as measured by scores of weight and height for age. The researchers theorized that by improving gut barrier function, glutamine enhanced nutrient absorption, triggering weight gain and growth.

A clinical study published in Burns examined the effect of glutamine supplementation on intestinal mucosal barrier function in patients with severe burns. A total of 48 patients were randomly divided into two groups. The treatment group received oral glutamine supplements and the control group received a placebo. All of the patients took a lactulose-mannitol test at the beginning and end of the trial. In addition, their blood was tested for diamine oxidase, a marker for the status of the gut mucosa.

After 14 days, the glutamine group had significantly improved levels of diamine oxidase activity and a better lactulose-mannitol ratio than the placebo group, showing reduced intestinal permeability. Glutamine treatment also significantly accelerated wound healing and reduced the length of time patients stayed in hospital by approximately 10 days.

A pilot study published in the Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition evaluated the effects of glutamine on tight junction proteins in the colonic mucosa of patients with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D). Patients with IBS-D have decreased tight junction function and increased intestinal permeability.

Researchers took biopsy samples from the colons of 12 IBS-D patients and incubated them in test tubes with increasing concentrations of glutamine. The samples were then analyzed for specific tight junction proteins. Glutamine increased the synthesis of claudin-1, an integral membrane protein which is a component of tight junction strands.

Method: Most high protein foods are good sources of glutamine including meat, fish, eggs and dairy. Plant sources of glutamine include legumes, nuts, red cabbage and green leafy vegetables.

Glutamine (or L-Glutamine) supplements are available as capsules, tablets or a powder that can be mixed into shakes or juice. The recommended dosage of glutamine for leaky gut is 1,000 mg taken twice daily.


3. Soluble Fiber

leaky gut soluble fiber psyllium husk natural remedies

Dietary fiber plays an important role in gastrointestinal health. Research indicates that fiber helps to maintain the normal epithelial barrier function and reduce intestinal permeability.

Soluble fiber promotes the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria which help to sustain a healthy mucus layer in the colon.

When bacteria in the intestines ferment dietary fiber, they produce butyrate. This fatty acid is an important energy source for the epithelial cells.

A review article published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutic concluded that butyrate has multiple effects including reinforcing colonic barrier function, inhibiting inflammation, decreasing oxidative stress and protecting against colon cancer.

A laboratory study published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases investigated whether beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber found in oats, could improve intestinal barrier function in Crohn’s disease. Researchers took segments of the epithelium from 8 patients with Crohn’s disease and 9 controls. These were mounted in an apparatus used for measuring epithelial membrane properties and barrier functions.

Beta-glucan inhibited the harmful effects on the epithelium produced by a stress-inducing chemical compound. It also reduced hyperpermeability in epithelial cells from both the Crohn’s patients and the controls.

A rodent study published in Cell Host and Microbe investigated whether fiber protects against deterioration of the colonic mucus layer. Researchers fed mice a low-fiber Western style diet (WSD) and found that it altered their colonic microbiota, increased intestinal penetrability and reduced the growth rate of the colonic mucus layer. Feeding the mice inulin, a type of soluble fiber found in vegetables, prevented mucosal barrier defects associated with the WSD.

A randomized controlled trial published in the BMJ compared the effectiveness of increasing the dietary content of soluble fiber or insoluble fiber in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.  Researcher recruited 275 patients aged 18-65 years who had been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome in the previous two years.

Patients were randomly allocated to receive either 10 g of psyllium (soluble fiber), 10 g of bran (insoluble fiber), or a placebo (rice flour) twice daily mixed with food. Patients kept weekly diaries during the 12-weeks of treatment and filled in questionnaires about the severity of their symptoms.

After three months of treatment, symptom severity scores in the psyllium group were reduced by 90 points, compared with 49 points in the placebo group and 58 points in the bran group. A significantly greater proportion of patients in the psyllium group reported adequate relief of symptoms compared with the placebo group. Bran showed no clinically relevant benefit.

Method: The best dietary source of inulin is chicory root. Other foods containing inulin include Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, onions and garlic. The best dietary sources of beta-glucan are oats, barley and shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

Inulin, beta-glucan and psyllium husk supplements are all available in capsule form or as a powder that can be mixed into smoothies or used in home baking.


4. Vitamin A

leaky gut vitamin a orange milk eggs broccoli carrots natural remedies

Vitamin A is needed to repair the mucus membranes in the intestine and maintain the health of epithelial cells. It also supports the immune system and protects against bacterial and viral infection.

Research has shown that alterations in the epithelial lining occur early in vitamin A deficiency, suggesting an important role for vitamin A in maintaining intestinal barrier function.

Studies done on vitamin A and gut barrier integrity center around young children with poor diets who are susceptible to diarrhea and infections associated with a leaky gut.

A report published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases described studies done on gut integrity and vitamin A in Gambian and Indian infants. In Gambia, 119 children were given a lactose-mannitol test every month between the ages of 2 months and 15 months. The data showed that gut barrier function was least impaired during the mango season, the time of maximum vitamin A intake.

Two randomized controlled trials in India tested the effects of vitamin A supplementation on gut barrier function. In one 80 infants attending a community health center received 16,700 IU of vitamin A weekly or placebo. In another, 94 hospitalized infants were given 200,000 IU of vitamin A or a placebo. Lactose-mannitol tests conducted before and after supplementation showed that groups treated with vitamin A had more rapid improvement in gut integrity than the placebo groups.

A pilot study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases investigated the actions of vitamin A on gut integrity in 30 mildly malnourished Brazilian children. The children all took a lactulose-mannitol urine test. Blood tests showed that 2 of the children were moderately vitamin A deficient and 17 were mildly deficient.

The data indicated that intestinal barrier function was inversely correlated with vitamin A levels. Children with poorer vitamin A nutritional status were more likely to have impaired intestinal integrity.

In a follow-up study published in the Journal of Health Population and Nutrition, the same researchers examined whether supplementation with vitamin A and zinc would improve intestinal function. A group of 20 children who had experienced at least one episode of persistent diarrhea or had a low weight for their age were selected to receive supplements. Age-matched children were used as a control group.

All of the participants had their blood tested for levels of vitamin A and zinc and took a lactulose-mannitol test to determine intestinal permeability. The supplement group were given a single high dose of oral vitamin A. They also received a two-week course of 20 mg of zinc sulphate per day. Increased blood levels of vitamin A following supplementation were significantly correlated with decreased intestinal permeability.

Method:  The best dietary sources of vitamin A are liver, cod liver oil, eggs, dairy products, dark-green leafy vegetables and deep-orange fruits and vegetables.

Be sure to read the label when taking vitamin A supplements. Some forms of vitamin A can be toxic in large doses. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for preformed vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) is 10,000 IU for adults. Large amounts of beta-carotene and other provitamin A carotenoids are not associated with major adverse effects.


5. Stress Management

leaky gut stress management natural remedies

Most people know from personal experience that stressful situations can cause gastrointestinal symptoms ranging from ‘butterflies in the stomach’ to nausea or diarrhea.

According to a review published in the Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, the major effects of stress on the gut include an increase in intestinal permeability, negative effects on regeneration of gastrointestinal mucosa and negative effects on intestinal microbiota.

A review published in Cell and Tissue Research found evidence that stress hormones such as norepinephrine interact with protective bacteria on the mucosal surface of the gut, shift microbial colonization patterns and alter susceptibility to infection.

Research has shown that defects in intestinal barrier function are associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGDs) such as constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome. A study published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease investigated the association between stress and FGDs in 668 apparently healthy students.  The participants completed an online questionnaire that asked about gastrointestinal symptoms and assessed subjective experience of stress, coping strategies and stress reactivity.

The data showed that FGD symptoms were significantly predicted by increased perceived stress levels, reactivity to stressful situations and maladaptive coping strategies. Researchers concluded that stress-reducing interventions may be beneficial for patients with FGDs.

A prospective study published in Biopsychosocial Medicine examined the factors that lead to a change from non-patient irritable bowel syndrome to IBS patient status. Researchers used a questionnaire to screen individuals for IBS and identified 136 subjects with IBS symptoms which were not severe enough to cause them to seek medical attention.

These non-patient IBS subjects were followed up for 3 years and completed surveys at 3-month intervals. The surveys included items on IBS symptoms and any medical consultations associated with IBS. They also covered biological, psychological, life-style and environmental risk factors for IBS.

Over the course of the study, 37 non-patient IBS subjects went on to become IBS patients under medical care. IBS symptoms disappeared in 26 on the non-patient subjects. In the group that progressed to IBS, psychosocial stressor (daily hassles) score and IBS symptoms score both significantly increased just before onset. Analysis of the survey data showed that stressors, stress coping, response to stress and lifestyle play more important roles in IBS onset than biological factors.

Method: If you have symptoms relating to intestinal, inflammatory or autoimmune diseases that tend to flare up or worsen on certain occasions, it can be helpful to keep a daily diary of symptoms and stressful events. Once you establish a connection, learning stress management techniques and coping strategies could help reduce any symptoms associated with leaky gut.

Stress-relieving practices include mindfulness, yoga, nature walks, meditation and laughter-therapy (watching comedy routines or sitcoms that make you laugh out loud). If you have intestinal problems accompanied by depression or anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy may help both the physical and emotional symptoms.


Other Treatments for Leaky Gut

The remedies listed below are often recommended by complementary or alternative medicine practitioners. They may be helpful, but their effectiveness in treating leaky gut has not been tested on humans in large-scale controlled trials.

1. Quercetin

leaky gut quercetin red onions kale natural remedies

Quercetin is a plant flavanol found in foods such as red onions and kale. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Laboratory research has shown that when human intestinal cells are incubated with quercetin in a test tube, their barrier function is enhanced.


2. Ginkgo Biloba

Leaky gut ginkgo biloba green leaves tea natural remedies

Ginkgo biloba extract is derived from the leaf of the Chinese ginkgo tree. It is a popular supplement due to its antioxidant properties.

In one study, rats were pretreated with oral ginkgo biloba extract before being injected with acetic acid to simulate ulcerative colitis. Ginkgo reduced the inflammatory response and reduced damage to the colonic mucosa.


3. Digestive Enzymes

leaky gut digestive enzymes natural remedies

Digestive enzymes break down foods into individual nutrients.

Plant or fungal-based enzymes do much of this breakdown in the stomach before the food even enters the intestines. This prevents large undigested food particles from irritating the intestinal lining. It also makes nutrients more readily available to be used for upkeep and repair of epithelial cells.

Supplements containing protease, amylase, lipase and lactase will help to digest proteins, starches, fats and lactose.


4. DGL Licorice Root 

leaky gut licorice root natural remdies

Licorice root has a history of use as a folk remedy for digestive problems. However, it contains a sweet substance called glycyrrhizin that can cause high blood pressure and other issues.

Deglycyrrhizinated (DGL) licorice has the glycyrrhizin removed. While DGL has not been studied as a treatment for intestinal permeability, one study found that it worked as well as an over-the-counter medication for treating peptic ulcers.

N-acetyl glucosamine is a chemical that comes from the outer shells of shellfish. Researchers have hypothesized that it may contribute to the biosynthesis of the mucosal lining and augment epithelial defenses.

In a pilot study on 12 children with severe inflammatory bowel disease, 8 children given oral N-acetyl glucosamine showed clear improvement.


5. Zinc

leaky gut zinc salmon shrimp beef pumpkin seed -garlic beans mushrooms natural remedies

Zinc is an essential trace element required for multiple cellular functions. The cells of the intestinal mucosa have a rapid turnover, so zinc is important for maintaining the integrity of the intestinal lining.

A small study on 12 patients with Crohn’s disease in remission found that 8-weeks of zinc supplementation restored normal intestinal permeability.


The 4 R’s

Many alternative health care practitioners recommend the 4 R’s process for healing a leaky gut.

  1. REMOVE foods and medicines that may damage the intestinal barrier or disturb the microbial balance. These may include processed foods, sugar, grains, alcohol, NSAIDs and unnecessary antibiotics.
  2. REPLACE these with a diet rich in vegetable fiber, vitamin A foods, fermented foods and anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids.
  3. REPAIR the gut with supplements such as glutamine.
  4. REBALANCE the gut microbiome with probiotic foods and supplements.

Final Word

If you have been diagnosed with an intestinal disease, an autoimmune disease or an inflammatory disease, consider seeking out a functional medicine practitioner, naturopath or nutritionist to request a lactulose-mannitol test for leaky gut. Restoring intestinal barrier integrity might improve your symptoms.

Even if you do not have increased gut permeability, you can improve your overall well-being by eating a nourishing, fiber-rich diet to ensure that you maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system and gut microbiome.

7 Natural Remedies & Treatments to Stop Hair Loss & Thinning

hair loss balding thinning natural remedies

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), male and female pattern hair loss affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States.

More than 50% percent of men over age 50 have some degree of hair loss. For women, hair loss is most likely after the menopause. Although hair loss may be a symptom of an underlying condition, such as thyroid disease, in most cases it the result of heredity, hormonal changes or aging.

The Hair Growth Cycle

At any time, about 90% of the hair on a person’s head is actively growing. A long growth period is followed by a resting phase that lasts about 2-3 months.

At the end of the resting phase, the hair naturally falls out and new hair grows in to replace it. At any one time different hair follicles are in different stages of the growth cycle, so hair is continuously lost and replaced.

It is normal to shed up to 100 individual hairs in a day. Excessive hair loss occurs when hair regrowth is inhibited or when the normal growth cycle is disrupted.

Common Types of Hair Loss

  • Male pattern baldness or androgenetic alopecia is a genetic condition. It creates a bald spot on the top of the scalp, causing a horseshoe-shaped pattern of hair. Common patterns seen in men include a receding hairline, thinning crown or general thinning.
  • Female pattern hair loss, also called androgenetic alopecia, is a hereditary condition that causes thinning hair, evenly spread over the crown of the head.
  • Alopecia areata affects both men and women and is characterized by circular bald patches. It is thought to be caused by an autoimmune disease which targets the hair follicles.
  • Telogen effluvium is temporary hair shedding all over the scalp. It occurs when metabolic or physiological stress alters the hair growth cycle so that a large number of hairs enter the resting phase at the same time. It can be triggered by illness, medications, rapid weight loss or childbirth.

Pharmaceutical treatments for hair loss can be expensive and success is not guaranteed. The two most common treatments are foams or lotions containing minoxidil, branded as Regaine, and prescription finasteride tablets, branded as Proscar or Propecia.

Side effects of minoxidil include an itchy, dry or flakey scalp. Side effects of finasteride include a loss of libido or erectile problems. Fortunately, there are many natural alternatives that may work equally well.

7 Evidence-Based Natural Remedies for Hair Loss

1. Saw Palmetto

saw palmetto green plant hair loss balding thinning natural remedies

Androgenetic alopecia is a common hereditary form of hair loss in both men and women. An enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR) converts testosterone into the androgen hormone DHT. DHT attaches to receptors on hair follicles and inhibits hair growth.

Saw palmetto extract is thought to work by the same mechanism as the hair-loss medication finasteride. It blocks the 5-AR enzyme, decreases DHT uptake by hair follicles and decreases binding of DHT to follicle receptors.

A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine tested the 5AR inhibitors liposterolic extract and beta sitosterol derived from saw palmetto for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. Researchers recruited 20 men aged 23-64 with mild-moderate male pattern baldness and randomized them to receive saw palmetto supplements or placebo supplements.

Their hair loss before and after treatment was rated by investigators who did not know which men had taken the active substance. The results showed a highly positive response to treatment, with 60% in the saw palmetto group rated as improved.

A study presented at the fourth intercontinental meeting of hair research societies tested saw palmetto extract in lotion and shampoo base on 34 men and 28 women. After 3 months, hair density had increased by 35% accompanied by a 67% reduction in sebum production.

Method: Take a 160 mg saw palmetto extract capsule twice daily with meals.

If you wish to use the extract topically, saw palmetto shampoos are available.

Alternatively, follow the basic recipe for homemade shampoo and add 12 drops of liquid saw palmetto extract.


2. Rosemary

rosemary hair loss thinning balding natural remedies

Rosemary extract promotes hair growth in two ways. Hair loss can be caused by a decrease in blood flow to the hair follicles, which reduces oxygen and nutrients needed for hair to thrive.

Research has shown that rosemary oil increases vasodilation and blood flow in the areas where it is applied. Minoxidil, the active ingredient in the commercial hair loss solution Regaine, also stimulates hair follicles by increasing blood flow.

In addition, Rosemary works like saw palmetto by inhibiting the binding of DHT to androgen receptors in the follicles. In a study published in Phytotherapy Research, researchers shaved mice and gave them testosterone, the precursor of DHT, to interrupt hair regrowth. Mice that were then treated with topical rosemary leaf extract showed improved hair regrowth compared to untreated mice.

A clinical trial published in SKINmed compared rosemary oil to minoxidil for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. A total of 100 patients with male pattern baldness were randomly assigned to use rosemary oil or a topical treatment containing 2% minoxidil. A professional microphotographic assessment of each volunteer’s scalp was taken at the initial interview and after 3 and 6 months of the trial.

Both groups experienced a significant increase in hair count after 6 months compared with hair counts at the start of the trial and at 3 months. Minoxidil and rosemary oil were both equally effective, with no significant difference between treatments. However, the minoxidil group experienced more frequent scalp itching.

Method: To stimulate new hair growth, add 5 drops of rosemary oil to one tablespoon of carrier oil such as grapeseed oil or jojoba oil. Massage into the scalp and leave for at least 30 minutes before shampooing.

You can also make your own rosemary shampoo with an infusion of the fresh chopped herb. You’ll find the recipe here.


3. Lavender Oil

lavender oil balding hair loss thinning natural remedies

Lavender oil is thought to stimulate hair growth in the same way as minoxidil — by increasing blood circulation to the areas where it is applied.

Lavender has also been shown to reduce stress, and research has shown that emotional or physiological stress is a common cause of hair loss.

A study published in Toxicological Research tested the hair growth effects of lavender oil in mice. Researchers shaved the backs of mice and divided them into 5 groups of 18 mice each: a salt-water control group, a jojoba oil control group, a 3% minoxidil treatment group, a 3% lavender oil treatment group and a 5% lavender oil treatment group. Each substance was applied topically to the mice daily, 5 times a week, for 4 weeks.

At weeks 1, 3 and 4, the backs of the mice were photographed to evaluate the darkening of skin color. Hair growth in each group was rated on a score ranging from 0-100%. Skin samples were examined by fluorescent microscopy.

As the experiment progressed, the hair follicle number and depth in the 3% minoxidil, 3% lavender oil and 5% lavender oil groups increased markedly compared to the control groups. At 4 weeks, all of the 3 treatment groups showed a significantly increased number of hair follicles, deepened hair follicle depth and thickened dermal layer. The minoxidil group showed 100% hair regrowth compared to 95% hair regrowth for the 5% lavender oil group.

Method: Add 5 drops of lavender essential oil to one tablespoon of jojoba oil. Massage into the scalp and leave on for at least 30 minutes before shampooing.


4. Onions and Garlic

garlic onions hair loss thinning balding natural remedies

Garlic and onions are both part of the allium family and contain many of the same beneficial substance including organosulfur compounds.

Sulfur is a structural part of keratin, the protein hair is made of. Thus, garlic and onions can help strengthen hair by contributing to keratin synthesis.

In addition, they may promote hair regrowth by increasing blood flow to the scalp to stimulate hair follicles. Research has shown that garlic dilates capillaries and enhances blood circulation in the skin.

A study published in the Journal of Dermatology tested the effectiveness of topical onion juice in the treatment of alopecia areata. Also known as spot baldness, alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease which causes patchy hair loss. A treatment group of 23 patients were advised to apply crude onion juice to bald spots twice daily for two months. A control group of 15 patients applied tap water.

Onion juice gave significantly better results than tap water. In the onion-juice group, hair re-growth was seen in 74% of patients at 4 weeks and 87% of patients at 6 weeks. In the tap-water group, only 13% of patients showed hair regrowth by the end of the 8-week study.

A clinical trial performed by dermatologists from the Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences in Iran examined the efficacy of topical garlic gel in the treatment of alopecia areata. Researchers recruited 40 patients with up to 3 bald patches and randomly assigned them to a garlic group or a placebo group.

In the treatment group, an odorless gel containing 5% garlic extract was rubbed on the bald spots and left for an hour twice daily. The same procedure was carried out in the control group with a non-garlic gel. Both groups also received the standard treatment of a topical corticosteroid.

After 3 months, 95% of patients in the garlic group had moderate or good hair regrowth. Hair count numbers were significantly higher in the garlic group than in the control group. The garlic group also had a significant decrease in size of bald spots.


  • To make an onion juice hair treatment, peel and roughly chop an onion. Use a blender or food processor to reduce the onion to a pulp. Pass the onion through a fine sieve to separate out the juice. Massage the onion juice into the scalp and leave on for 20 minutes before shampooing.
  • To make a hair oil from a head of garlic, peel the cloves and squeeze them in a garlic press over a bowl. Strain the garlic pulp through a fine sieve to separate out the pure juice. Mix the juice with a tablespoon of carrier oil such as grapeseed oil, jojoba oil or melted coconut oil. Massage the mixture into the scalp and leave it on for an hour before shampooing.


5. Pumpkin Seed Oil

pumpkin seed oil hair loss thinning balding natural remedies

Pumpkin seed oil works to combat hair loss in much the same way as saw palmetto. Research has shown that phytosterols in pumpkin seeds inhibit the 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR) enzyme which converts testosterone into the follicle-blocking androgen hormone DHT.

A trial published in Evidenced-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the effect of pumpkin seed oil on hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia. Researchers recruited 76 men with mild-moderate male pattern baldness and randomized them into 2 groups. The treatment group took four 100 mg pumpkin seed oil capsules per day for 24 weeks. The control group took identical placebo capsules.

Change in scalp hair growth was evaluated by 4 outcomes: scalp hair counts; scalp hair thickness; patient self-assessment scores; and assessment of clinical photographs by an investigator who did not know which photos belonged to the treatment group and which belonged to the control group.

The pumpkin seed oil group had significantly more hair regrowth after treatment than the placebo group. Average hair count increased by 40% in the pumpkin seed oil group compared an increase of 10% in the placebo group. Self-rated improvement score and self-rated satisfaction scores in the pumpkin seed oil group were also significantly higher than in the placebo group.

Method: Pumpkin seed extract (curcurbita pepo) supplement capsules are available in formulas ranging from 300-1,000 mg.

It’s unclear whether a higher dose than the 400 mg per day used in the study above would be more effective for hair regrowth.


6. Aromatherapy Massage

aromatherapy head massage hair loss thinning balding natural remedies

Hair loss can be caused or aggravated by stress. Research has shown that aromatherapy is an effective stress-reliever. In addition, as we have seen with rosemary and lavender, some essential oils have chemical properties that promote hair regrowth.

A study published in JAMA Dermatology investigated the efficacy of aromatherapy in the treatment of patients with alopecia areata. A total of 84 patients with alopecia areata (spot baldness) were randomized into 2 groups. The active group received a solution containing 20 ml grapeseed oil, 3 ml jojoba oil, 2 drops thyme oil, 3 drops rosemary oil, 3 drops lavender oil and 2 drops cedar oil. The control group received the same carrier oils (grapeseed and jojoba) without the added essential oils.

A trained aromatherapist demonstrated the technique of scalp massage with the oils. Patients were instructed to massage the oils into the scalp for a minimum of 2 minutes every night and to then wrap a warm towel around their head.

Before-and-after photographs of the scalp were scored independently by 2 dermatologists who were not told which patients received the essential oils. A computerized image analyzer was used to map the areas of alopecia at the beginning and end the study.

After 7 months 44% of the patients in the essential oil group showed improvement compared to 15% of patients in the control group. The essential oil group also had a significant reduction in the area affected by alopecia. One patient showed an excellent response to essential oil therapy with more than 80% hair regrowth in all areas.

Method: Make your own scalp massage oil using the formula described in the study or add a few drops of peppermint oil to the recipe:

  • 20 ml grapeseed oil
  • 3 ml jojoba oil
  • 2 drops thyme oil
  • 3 drops rosemary oil
  • 3 drops lavender oil
  • 2 drops cedar oil


7. Iron

iron nuts red liver hair loss thinning balding natural remedies

Iron deficiency is very common, especially in premenopausal women and vegetarians. Iron is necessary for the production of hemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells which carries oxygen and nutrients to the tissues.

If you are iron-deficient, oxygen will be sent to the vital organs, and non-essential tissues such as the hair follicles will be oxygen-deprived. This is why hair loss is a common symptom of iron-deficiency anemia. However, research has shown that low iron levels can cause hair loss in people with or without anemia.

A study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science evaluated the relationship between iron and hair loss. Researchers collected medical data from 210 patients who visited a hospital clinic and were diagnosed with female or male pattern hair loss and compared it to data from 210 patients who visited the clinic for a regular check-up and did not suffer from hair loss. All patients underwent screening for serum ferritin (SF), an iron-binding protein in the blood which is a marker for total body iron stores. SF decreases from the very early stages of iron deficiency.

Serum ferritin concentration was significantly lower in patients with female pattern hair loss, compared with normal healthy women. Premenopausal hair loss patients showed much lower SF than age and sex-matched controls. Over 80% of female hair loss patients had an SF level lower than 70 ug/L, compared to less than 20% of controls. Among male pattern hair loss patients, 23% had an SF level lower than 70 ug/L, whereas no one in the control group of age-matched males did.

A study published in Skin Pharmacology and Physiology evaluated serum ferritin and vitamin D levels in women with chronic telogen effluvium (hair shedding) or female pattern hair loss. Researchers took blood samples from 80 women diagnosed with hair loss and compared the results with 40 age-matched females with no hair loss. SF and vitamin D levels were determined for each participant.

Both serum ferritin levels and vitamin D levels in the women with hair loss were significantly lower than in the controls. Both of these levels were lowest in the women with the most severe hair loss. The researchers note that screening to establish SF and vitamin D levels and supplementing deficient patients may be beneficial in the treatment of hair loss.

Method: If you suffer from hair loss, make sure you’re eating plenty of iron-rich foods. Meat, poultry and fish contain heme iron, which is much more efficiently absorbed than non-heme iron from plants.

Vegetarians and vegans should carefully plan meals to include a good source of iron such as legumes or dark leafy greens and pair it with a good source of vitamin C to boost absorption.

Although iron supplements are widely available, they can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea or constipation, and overdoses can be dangerous. If you are considering taking iron supplements for hair loss, see a doctor to get a serum ferritin test and determine the right dose.


Final Word

Here are a few simple tips to help you avoid preventable hair loss:

  • Eat a diet with plenty of protein and mineral-rich foods.
  • Use a conditioner after washing your hair to make it more elastic and less prone to breakage.
  • Use a wide-toothed detangling comb on wet hair.
  • Avoid hairstyles that pull your hair tight, such as cornrows, buns or ponytails.
  • Avoid harsh chemical treatments such as permanents or hair dyes containing ammonia.
  • Avoid exposing hair to excessive heat from hot rollers, curling irons, straighteners or hot oil treatments.
  • Avoid compulsively pulling, twisting or rubbing your hair.

7 Natural Remedies & Treatments for Diabetes (Prediabetes & Type 2)

diabetes sugar prediabetes natural remedies

According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), approximately half the US adult population has diabetes or prediabetes.

The estimated prevalence of type 2 diabetes among U.S. adults is 12-14% and the prevalence of prediabetes is 37-38%. The same data indicates that around 35% of those who have type 2 diabetes have not been diagnosed and 93% of those with prediabetes do not know they have a potential health problem.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes develops when the cells becomes resistant to the hormone insulin or when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin. When a healthy person eats carbohydrate or sugar, glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream.

The pancreas then secretes insulin which allows glucose to enter the cells. Insulin lowers the level of sugar in the bloodstream. As blood sugar levels drop, the pancreas stops secreting insulin.

In type 2 diabetes, the cells become resistant to the action of insulin and are less able to absorb sugar from the blood. As blood sugar levels rise, beta-cells in the pancreas release increasing amounts of insulin. Eventually, the beta-cells become impaired and can’t make enough insulin to lower blood sugar to healthy levels.

The high levels of blood sugar in type 2 diabetes can eventually lead to heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, nerve damage, kidney disease, vision problems and foot or leg amputations.


People are diagnosed with prediabetes if blood tests show that their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not in the type 2 diabetes range. According to the CDC, 15-30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. They are also at higher risk of heart disease and stroke. There are no clear symptoms of prediabetes, so you may be one of the many who have it and may not even know it.

Type 2 diabetes is usually treated with lifestyle changes, oral medications and/or insulin injections. People with prediabetes are usually advised to lose weight, exercise and eat a healthy diet.

There are many natural ways to help keep your blood sugar levels in the normal range and increase your insulin sensitivity. The methods detailed below can help to lower the risk of prediabetes or type 2 diabetes or to reduce the need for medication in those already diagnosed.

Diagnostic Tests

Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes are diagnosed with blood sugar tests. The Mayo Clinic recommends diabetes screening every 3 years for overweight people with additional risk factors and anyone over the age of 45.

Normal Blood Sugar (non-Diabetic)

  • 70-99 mg/dL
  • A1C (average blood sugar levels over 2-3 months) levels below 5.7 percent


  • Fasting blood sugar level between 100-125 mg/dL
  • A1C between 5.7-6.4 percent


  • Fasting blood sugar level above 125 mg/dL
  • A1C above 6.5 percent

Fasting Plasma Glucose Test (FPF) measures blood sugar levels after an overnight fast.

  • Normal – less than 100 mg/dl
  • Prediabetes – 100 mg/dl to 125 mg/dl
  • Diabetes – 126 mg/dl or higher

A Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) is used to measure how blood sugars rise and fall after consuming carbohydrates. Blood sugar is measured after an overnight fast. Then blood sugar is measured again 2 hours after drinking a sugary liquid.

  • Normal – less than 140 mg/dl
  • Prediabetes – 140 mg/dl to 199 mg/dl
  • Diabetes – 200 mg/dl or higher

A Glycated Hemoglobin (A1C) test measures the percentage of blood sugar attached to the hemoglobin in red blood cells to determine your average blood sugar level for the past 2-3 months.

  • Normal – less than 5.7%
  • Prediabetes – 5.7% to 6.4%
  • Diabetes – 5% or higher

7 Evidence-Based Ways to Prevent or Control Diabetes

1. Coffee

coffee diabetes prediabetes natural remedies

Coffee contains several phenolic compounds that may help to prevent or treat metabolic disorders. Rodent studies have shown that a major component of coffee, chlorogenic acid, reduces insulin resistance.

Another compound in coffee, quinine, has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in human diabetics and non-diabetics. Trigonelline, a plant alkaloid found in coffee, has been shown to improve glucose tolerance and insulin resistance in human and rodent studies.

A blood protein called sCD163 is a biomarker for inflammation. Research has shown that higher concentrations of sCD163 predict increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the general population.

A Spanish case-control study published in PLoS One examined the influence of diet on sCD163 levels. Researchers compared data from blood samples and food frequency questionnaires collected from 514 type 2 diabetes patients and 517 controls with normal glucose tolerance.

Concentrations of sCD163 concentrations were 11% higher in type 2 diabetes patients than in controls. Researchers analyzed the link between sCD163 and the intake of 30 different foods and beverages. Coffee and red wine were the only dietary items associated with significantly lower levels of sCD163.

A Meta-analysis published in Diabetes Care pooled data from 28 prospective studies with 1,109,272 study participants and 45,335 cases of type 2 diabetes. Duration of follow-up ranged from 10 months to 20 years. The analysis showed that the more coffee participants consumed per day, the lower the risk for type 2 diabetes compared with non-coffee drinkers.

The risk for type 2 diabetes was reduced by:

  • 8% for 1 cup of coffee
  • 15% for 2 cups of coffee
  • 21% for 3 cups of coffee
  • 25% for 4 cups of coffee
  • 29% for 5 cups of coffee
  • 33% for 6 cups of coffee

Both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee were associated with reduced diabetes risk.

A prospective study published in Diabetologia examined the associations between changes in coffee and tea consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers analyzed data from 3 large cohort studies including 95,974 women and 27,759 men. These studies used questionnaires to collect detailed information on diet, lifestyle and medical conditions every 2-4 years for over 20 years.

Participants were asked how many times per day (on average) they had consumed caffeinated coffee, decaffeinated coffee or tea during the previous year. Over the course of the study, participants who reported having type 2 diabetes were followed up to confirm the diagnosis.

The data revealed that participants who increased their coffee consumption by more than 1 cup per day over a 4-year period had a 12% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the subsequent 4 years compared to those who made no changes in consumption. Participants who decreased their coffee intake by more than 1 cup per day had an 18% higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Changes in tea consumption were not associated with type 2 diabetes risk.

Method: In addition to protecting against diabetes, coffee has many other health benefits. So, if you enjoy it, drink up.

If too much caffeine makes you anxious or keeps you awake at night, switch to decaf. Most of the disease-fighting properties in coffee come from the antioxidants and phenolic compounds, not the caffeine.


2. Magnesium

magnesium nuts seeds avocado green leafy vegetables diabetes prediabetes natural remedies

Magnesium is required for the action of enzymes involved in glucose metabolism. Research has shown that magnesium deficiency may cause disorders of insulin signaling and insulin secretion, leading to impaired insulin sensitivity in muscle cells and fat cells.

In rodent studies magnesium supplementation protects against insulin resistance and reduces the development of diabetes.

A meta-analysis published in Diabetes Care examined the association between magnesium intake and risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers pooled data from 13 prospective cohort studies involving 536,318 participants. All of the studies assessed magnesium intake using dietary or food frequency questionnaires.

Over a follow-up period ranging from 4-20 years, 24,516 participants developed type 2 diabetes. Analysis of the data showed that type 2 diabetes risk was reduced by 14% for every 100 mg per day increment in magnesium intake.

A longitudinal study followed participants in the Framingham Heart Study to assess associations between magnesium intake and type 2 diabetes. A cohort of 2,582 non-diabetic adults aged 26-81 completed 126-item food frequency questionnaires at three different intervals and this data was combined to determine average magnesium intake from food and supplements. Metabolic impairment was measured with glucose tolerance and fasting blood insulin tests.

In the total study population, there were 179 cases of diabetes over 7 years of follow-up. Participants with the highest magnesium intake had a 53% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with the lowest intake. In those who had prediabetes or some level of metabolic impairment at the start of the study, higher intake was associated with 32% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A randomized controlled trial published in Diabetes Care tested oral magnesium supplementation for improving insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in type 2 diabetics. Researchers recruited 65 patients with type 2 diabetes who had blood levels of magnesium below the normal range. The subjects were randomly allocated to receive either a magnesium chloride solution or a placebo daily.

At the start and end of the trial, the patients’ blood was tested for blood sugar concentrations, insulin, cholesterol levels and magnesium levels. After 16 weeks, patients who received magnesium had significantly lower fasting blood glucose and significantly lower insulin resistance than the control group.

Method: The best sources of dietary magnesium are fiber-rich plant foods such as nuts, beans and leafy greens. Unfortunately, if intensive farming has depleted the soil of its mineral content, plants grown in it may not provide adequate amounts of magnesium to meet the 400 mg recommended daily value.

Magnesium supplements come in a variety of forms. According to the NIH, magnesium powders and tablets that dissolve in liquid are better absorbed in the gut. Magnesium in the citrate, lactate, aspartate and chloride forms is more bioavailable than magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate.


3. Curcumin

curcumin turmeric orange spice diabetes prediabetes natural remedies

Curcumin is a polyphenol found in turmeric, the bright yellow spice used in curries and other Asian dishes.

Research has shown that curcumin can protect against type 2 diabetes in several ways. It improves pancreatic cell function, stimulates the release of insulin and reduces insulin resistance. It lowers blood sugar levels by reducing glucose production in the liver. It also activates enzymes that promote cellular uptake of glucose.

A randomized controlled trial published in Diabetes Care assessed the efficacy of curcumin in delaying development of type 2 diabetes. Researcher recruited 240 participants aged 35 and older who had been diagnosed with prediabetes and were not on any medication. Half of the subjects received 250 mg of curcumin capsules and half received placebo capsules. They were instructed to take 3 capsules twice a day.

After 12 months, 19 (16.4%) of subjects in the placebo group had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In contrast, none of the subjects in the curcumin group developed type 2 diabetes over the course of the study. Blood tests showed that the curcumin group had significantly better overall function of insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells.

Blood levels of free fatty acids (FFAs) are elevated in obese individuals and are associated with decreased increased insulin resistance and pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction. A study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research investigated whether curcuminoids benefit type 2 diabetic patients by reducing FFAs. A total of 100 overweight or obese type 2 diabetes patients were randomly assigned to receive 300 mg of curcuminoids per day or a placebo.

After 3 months, patients in the curcuminoids group had significantly lower fasting blood glucose and insulin resistance compared to the placebo group. Curcuminoids also led to a significant decrease in blood levels of FFAs.

A clinical trial at the Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Iran, tested the effect of a highly bioavailable curcumin supplement on patients with type 2 diabetes. A total of 70 type 2 diabetic patients were randomized to receive 80 mg of nanocurcumin capsules or placebo capsules for 3 months.

Blood sugar and cholesterol levels were checked before and after the trial. The curcumin group had a significant decrease in blood glucose levels, fasting blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and body mass index.

Method: Choose a turmeric/curcumin supplement which is standardized to contain 95% curcuminoids.

Curcumin alone is poorly absorbed, so look for supplements with special formulations or added black pepper extract (piperine or bioperine) to increase bioavailability.


4. Walking

walking exercise diabetes prediabetes natural remedies

Most people are aware that exercise can reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes by helping people to maintain a healthy weight. But it also lowers the risk by reducing blood sugar levels.

Muscle contractions simulate the muscle cells to take in circulating glucose. Research has shown that even time spent doing light-intensity activity reduces overall metabolic risk compared to time spent sedentary. Walking is an easy way to protect against type 2 diabetes that can fit in with a busy lifestyle.

A Japanese cohort study examined the relationship between walking to work and the development of type 2 diabetes. Study participants consisted of 8,576 non-diabetic men aged 40–55 who were involved in sedentary jobs. At the start of the study, subjects completed questionnaires regarding several risk factors for diabetes. They were also asked how many minutes a day they spent walking to work.

The men were followed up for four years, during which time 878 developed type 2 diabetes. After adjusting for age, BMI, parental history of diabetes, fasting blood glucose level, smoking habits, daily alcohol consumption and leisure-time physical activity, researchers found that participants who spent more than 21 minutes walking to work had a 28% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who spent less than 10 minutes walking to work.

A study by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health examined the effectiveness of three 15-minutes bouts of post-meal walking on 24-hour glycemic control in older persons. Researchers recruited 10 inactive, overweight adults aged 60 or older who had high fasting glucose concentrations. Participants completed three exercise protocols spaced 4 weeks apart in random order. Their blood sugar levels were measured with a continuous glucose monitor fitted under their abdominal skin.

In the control condition, subjects were instructed to remain inactive. In the second condition they walked on a treadmill for 15 minutes and 30 minutes after each meal, for a total of 45 minutes per day. In the third condition, they walked on the treadmill for a continuous 45 minutes and 2 hours after breakfast or in the late afternoon.

Both sustained morning walking and post-meal walking significantly improved 24-hour glycemic control compared to inactivity. Moreover, post-meal walking was significantly more effective than 45 min of sustained morning or afternoon walking in lowering blood glucose 3 hours after dinner.

A study published in Diabetes Care tested whether breaking up prolonged sitting with short bouts of standing or walking improved metabolic health in women at high risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers recruited 22 overweight or obese postmenopausal women with impaired glucose regulation. Each participated in two of the following treatments: unbroken sitting for 7.5 hours; prolonged sitting broken up with standing for 5 minutes every 30 minutes; or prolonged sitting broken up with walking for 5 minutes every 30 minutes.

All subjects were fed the same breakfast and lunch and blood samples were taken at regular intervals. Compared with prolonged sitting, standing reduced the post-meal rise in blood sugar by 34% and walking reduced it by 28%. Standing reduced the post-meal rise in insulin by 20% and walking reduced it by 37%. These effects persisted into the following day.


  • If you tend to use the car for errands or shopping within a mile of your home, aim to walk instead.
  • If you commute to work by car, consider parking further away and walking the remaining distance. If you commute by bus, consider getting off at an earlier stop.
  • If you work at a desk job, try to get up out of your seat every 30 minutes.
  • When watching TV, get up and do something during commercial breaks. If you record shows and fast-forward through the ads, pause the recording and get up.
  • Get an activity tracker, step counter or a walking app so you can monitor your progress.


5. Moderate Drinking

moderate drinking alcohol diabetes prediabetes natural remedies

Research has shown that low to moderate amounts of alcohol improve insulin sensitivity and lower plasma insulin concentrations when taken on a regular basis. Alcohol has also been shown to reduce blood markers of inflammation. These two effects combined can help to lower diabetes risk.

A meta-analysis published in Diabetes Care examined the relationship between alcohol consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers analyzed data from 15 prospective cohort studies involving 369,862 individuals who were followed for an average of 12 years. A total of 11,959 subjects developed type 2 diabetes.

The pooled data revealed a highly significant 30% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes in alcohol consumers of 6–48 grams per day (up to 3 drinks) compared with heavier consumers or abstainers. Those who drank less than 6 grams of alcohol per day on average has a 13% lower risk compared to non-drinkers.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined whether the association between alcohol use and lower risk of type 2 diabetes can be explained by the fact that moderate drinkers have a healthier lifestyles in general. A cohort of 35,625 non-diabetic men and women filled in questionnaires about risk behaviors for chronic diseases. They were also weighed and measured at the start of the study.

Researchers compiled data about alcohol consumption and 4 lifestyle factors: body mass index, physical activity level, smoking and a healthy diet. Participants were followed up for 10 years, over which time 796 developed type 2 diabetes.

In subjects already at lower risk of type 2 diabetes due to multiple low-risk lifestyle behaviors, moderate alcohol consumption were associated with a 40% lower risk compared with abstention. Researchers concluded that alcohol appears to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes independently of other lifestyle factors.

A clinical investigation published in JAMA examined the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on fasting insulin and insulin sensitivity. Researchers recruited 63 healthy postmenopausal women and put them on a controlled diet with all food and beverages prepared at the clinic. Participants received either 15 grams of alcohol (1 drink), 30 grams of alcohol (2 drinks) or a non-alcoholic drink daily for 8 weeks each, in random order.

Blood samples were analyzed at the end of each dietary period. Consumption of 30 grams of alcohol per day reduced fasting insulin concentration by 19%, increased insulin sensitivity by 7% and reduced triglyceride concentration by 10% compared to no alcohol.

Method: Although moderate amounts of alcohol appear to be protective against diabetes, beware of the sugar and calories in many liquors and cocktails.

Choose low-sugar drinks such as red wine or spirits mixed with soda water.


6. Omega-3

sardines avocado shrimp nuts tofu omega 3 fatty acid fish oil diabetes prediabetes natural remedies

Research has shown that omega-3 essential fatty acids reduce the risk for metabolic syndrome. They also help to reduce multiple risk factors for diabetes including obesity, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, oxidative stress and inflammation.

A population-based study published in Diabetes Care investigated the associations between different types of omega-3 fatty acids and risk of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged and older Finnish men. A total of 2,212 men aged 42–60 years and non-type 2 diabetics were enrolled in a heart disease risk factor study and followed up for an average of 19 years. At the start of the study, blood samples were taken and analyzed for fatty acids.

Over the course of the study, 422 men developed type 2 diabetes. Researchers divided the men into 4 groups according to their blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Participants with the highest levels of EPA, DHA and DPA (a type of omega-3 found in fish) had a 33% lower risk for type 2 diabetes than those with the lowest levels.

A clinical trial at the Tehran University of Medical Science examined the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a type of omega-3 essential fatty acid, on overweight patients with type 2 diabetes. A total of 67 patients were randomized to receive either 2 grams of EPA daily or a placebo containing 2 grams of corn oil for 3 months.

Blood tests were performed before and after treatment. The EPA group showed significant decreases in fasting blood glucose, insulin levels and insulin resistance compared to the placebo group.

A study published in the Singapore Medical Journal examined the effects of omega-3 supplementation on inflammation in type 2 diabetes patients. A total of 84 subjects aged 45-85 with at least a two-year history of type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to a treatment group or control group. The treatment group took omega-3 (EPA and DHA) capsules and the control group took placebo sunflower oil capsules daily for 8 weeks.

Comparison of blood tests before and after treatment showed that levels of 2 markers of inflammation, serum IL-2 and TNF-alpha, were significantly reduced in the omega-3 group compared to the control group.

A clinical trial published in Diabetologia investigated the effects of omega-3 consumption on insulin resistance in overweight participants on a low-calorie diet. Researchers recruited 324 overweight participants from 3 European countries and randomly assigned them to one of 4 diets which differed only in omega-3 content.

Diet 1 contained no seafood and included placebo sunflower oil supplements; diet 2 included 150 grams of cod 3 times a week; diet 3 included 150 grams of salmon 3 times a week; and diet 4 contained no seafood and included fish oil capsules.

Blood samples taken before and after the 8-week diets revealed that the fish oil capsules significantly reduced fasting insulin and insulin resistance compared to placebo capsules. This effect was independent of weight loss. The salmon diet also improved fasting insulin, but the results were not statistically significant. The cod diet was no more effective than the placebo diet.

Method: Oily fish containing omega-3 include salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, swordfish and fresh tuna.

To obtain higher levels take omega-3 supplements which provide at least 250 mg per day of DHA and EPA. Choose from cod liver oil, fish oil, algae oil or krill oil.


7. Ketogenic Diet

ketogenic diet fish oil egg nuts avocado green leafy diabetes prediabetes natural remedies

The ketogenic diet is high in healthy, natural sources of fats, low in carbohydrates and contains adequate amounts of protein. Carbohydrates raise blood glucose levels, whereas dietary fats have no effect on blood sugar.

The ketogenic diet helps to keep blood glucose levels low and reduces the body’s demand for insulin. In one study, 94% of type 2 diabetic patients who were prescribed insulin reduced or stopped their insulin use after one year of being on a ketogenic diet.

A parallel-group trial run by researchers at the University of California compared the effectiveness of a low-fat, low-calorie diet versus a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet in overweight adults with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. The 34 participants were randomized into two groups. Both groups attended 19 classes over 12 months and were taught about the importance of exercise, sleep and mindful eating.

The participants on the ketogenic diet were instructed to eat 20-50 grams of carbohydrate per day and taught to measure their blood levels of ketones (energy molecules from fat) twice a week. The participants on the low-fat diet were instructed to consume approximately 50% of their calories as carbohydrates, to reduce their fat intake and to eat 500 fewer calories than needed for weight maintenance.

After 12 months, the ketogenic group had lost an average of 8.3% of body weight, whereas the low-calorie group had lost only 3.8% on average. Interestingly, although the ketogenic group were not instructed to restrict calories, by the end of the study they were eating an average of 1,480 per day compared to 1,590 in the low-calorie group.

Results for diabetes improvement were also better with the ketogenic diet. A blood marker for long-term blood sugar levels, HbA1c, was reduced by 0.5% in the ketogenic group compared to 0.2% in the low-calorie group. This difference occurred despite significantly greater reductions in the use of glucose-lowering medications in the ketogenic group.

A study published in Nutrition and Metabolism tested the effect of a ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control. A total of 84 obese volunteers with type 2 diabetes were randomized to a ketogenic diet or a low-glycemic diet. Both groups received group meetings, diet books and handouts.

A dietitian instructed participants in the ketogenic group to restrict intake of dietary carbohydrate to fewer than 20 grams per day without explicitly restricting caloric intake. The low-glycemic group were taught to follow a low-glycemic index with approximately 55% of calories from carbohydrate and to eat 500 fewer calories per day than needed for weight maintenance.

After 24 weeks, both interventions led to improvements in in glycemic control. However, the ketogenic diet group had significantly greater improvements in a number of measures. Body weight was reduced by an average of 11 kg in the ketogenic group compared to 7 kg in the low-glycemic diet group. HbA1c was reduced by 1.5% in the ketogenic group versus 0.5% in the low-glycemic diet group. Diabetes medications were reduced or eliminated in 95% of the ketogenic group compared to 62% of the low-glycemic diet group.

Method: There are many books, websites and on-line videos which detail which foods are allowed and prohibited on a ketogenic diet and provides meal plans and recipes.

Note: If you are currently using insulin or any medication to lower your blood sugar, only attempt the ketogenic diet under a doctor’s supervision. Your medication will need to be adjusted as you reduce carbohydrate intake.


Final Word

You are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes if you are overweight or obese, physically inactive, aged over 45, have high blood pressure or have a family history with type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association provides an online 60-Second type 2 diabetes risk test.

If you have one or more risk factors, it’s important to get your blood glucose levels checked. The earlier prediabetes is diagnosed, the better chance you have of preventing the development of type 2 diabetes though diet and lifestyle changes.

9 Health Benefits of Vitamin C and What It’s Good For

vitamin c fruits orange grapefruit lemons lime health benefits

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin required for growth and repair of tissues, wound healing and maintenance of gums, bones and teeth.

It is also a powerful antioxidant which helps to prevent cell damage caused by unstable oxygen molecules known as free radicals. Oxidative damage contributes to a variety of diseases including cancer, heart disease and dementia.

A report published by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that, while most of the US population had sufficient levels of  vitamin C, 24% were at risk for vitamin C inadequacy and 8% were at risk for deficiency.

Even if you already get the recommended 75-90 mg of vitamin C from your daily diet, higher amounts might help to protect you against chronic illnesses.

Best Food Sources of Vitamin C

Most people associate vitamin C with oranges and orange juice. While oranges are a good source, with about 70 mg per medium fruit, they are certainly not the best.

Orange juice is not a particularly good way to up your daily intake. A 12-ounce glass of unsweetened juice contains around 9 teaspoons of sugar, about the same as a 12 ounce can of soda.

The following fruits and vegetables are all better sources of vitamin C than an orange and provide 100% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C in a single serving:

  1. Guava
  2. Kiwifruit
  3. Papaya
  4. Red bell pepper
  5. Green bell pepper
  6. Black currents (1 cup)
  7. Strawberries (1 cup)
  8. Fresh pineapple (1 cup)
  9. Broccoli (1 cup)
  10. Kale (1 cup)

9 Scientifically Backed Health Benefits of Vitamin C

1. Beats the Common Cold

common cold sick vitamin c health benefit cough fever runny nose

The common cold is caused by respiratory viruses and dozens of animal studies have shown that vitamin C reduces the incidence and severity of viral infections.

The practice of taking vitamin C supplements to ward off colds dates back to 1970 when Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling wrote a popular book on the subject.

Since then, numerous studies of vitamin C and cold prevention have been carried out. A Cochrane Review of 31 studies concluded that regular vitamin C supplementation had a consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms.

A double-blind trial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal tested whether vitamin C substantially reduces the frequency and duration of colds. Researchers recruited 818 volunteers and gave them identical bottles of 500 tablets.  Half of the bottles contained 250 mg vitamin C and half contained an orange-flavored placebo.  Participants were instructed to take four tablets per day, increasing to 16 tablets per day for the first 3 days of any illness. Only those who continued to take tablets for at least 2 months were included in the final results.

Subjects were provided with record sheets and instructed to note each day whether they were sick or well and the total number of tablets taken. One each day of illness, they filled in a check-list of symptoms and severity.

Participants who took vitamin C were significantly more likely to remain free of illness throughout the study period. The subjects receiving the vitamin also experienced approximately 30% fewer days confined to the house or off of work than those receiving the placebo.

Strenuous physical exercise also leads to an increased risk of colds and flu. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition tested whether vitamin C would reduce upper-respiratory-tract infections in ultramarathon runners. Researchers recruited 92 volunteers who were enrolled to run a 90-km marathon and 92 age-matched, non-runner controls. Half of the runners and half of the non-runners took 600 mg of vitamin C daily for 21 days before the race. The rest took identical looking and tasting placebo tablets.

Symptoms including runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough and fever were monitored for 14 days after the race. Runners in the placebo group were twice as likely to report cold symptoms compared to runners who had taken vitamin C before the race.  Among the non-runners, the duration and severity of symptoms in the vitamin C-supplemented group was also significantly less than in the placebo group.

A systematic review published in Military Medicine investigated whether vitamin C supplementation affects respiratory infections in military personnel. The researchers identified 11 vitamin C trials with military recruits or subjects living under comparable conditions.

Five small controlled trials, in which the participants were under heavy exertion, found a 45-91% reduction in common cold incidence in the vitamin C group, compared to the placebo group. A further 3 trials found an 80-100% reduction in the incidence of pneumonia in the vitamin C group.


2. Increases Mood and Libido

mood libido anxiety depression vitamin c natural health benefits

A prospective study involving 1,007 elderly participants found that low blood levels of vitamin C was a risk factor for depression.

Research has shown that vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of norepinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood and improve energy and alertness.

Vitamin C also stimulates secretion of oxytocin, the ‘love hormone’ which regulates social interaction, pair bonding and sexual reproduction. In addition to its effect on hormones, the antioxidant properties of vitamin C may help to ward off depression and anxiety by reducing oxidative stress in the brain.

An Iranian clinical trial tested the efficacy of vitamins C and E on anxiety in patients with type 2 diabetes. A total of 45 patients were randomly divided in 3 groups.  They received either: 400 IU of vitamin E, 1000 mg of vitamin C or a placebo daily for 6 weeks.  Before and after treatment, the participants were assessed with a 21-item depression, anxiety and stress questionnaire (DASS-21).

The results showed a significant decrease in anxiety scores in the vitamin C group compared to other groups. While there was no statistically significant change in stress scores for the vitamin C group, stress levels significantly increased in the placebo group.

A clinical trial published in Nutrition investigated whether vitamin C or D could improve the mood state of acutely hospitalized patients. Patients were randomly assigned to take either 500 mg of vitamin C twice daily or 1,000 IU of vitamin D twice daily.

Patients’ mood was assessed on the Profile of Mood States (POMS) before and after vitamin therapy. The POMS is a validated questionnaire that measures depression, tension, anger, fatigue, confusion and vigor. While vitamin D had no significant effect on mood, vitamin C was associated with a 34% reduction in mood disturbance.

A German study published in Biological Psychiatry examined the effect of vitamin C on sexual behavior and mood. A total of 81 healthy young adults were randomized to receive either 3,000 mg of sustained-release vitamin C daily or a placebo.

Before and after the trial, participants completed a psychometric test called the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Subjects with partners kept diaries of sexual activity.

After 14 days, the vitamin C group, but not the placebo group, experienced a decrease in BDI scores. The vitamin C group also reported more sexual intercourse.  The effect was most prominent in women and participants not living with their sexual partner.


3. Decreases High Blood Pressure

high blood pressure vitamin c natural health benefits

Vitamin C could help to lower high blood pressure in several ways.

Laboratory tests have shown that ascorbic acid promotes the synthesis of nitric oxide and improves nitric oxide bioactivity. Nitric oxide widens blood vessels and helps to maintain their elasticity.  Vitamin C also improves the function of the endothelium, the inner lining of blood vessels and arteries. In addition, the antioxidant properties of vitamin C can help to combat oxidative stress, which is thought to contribute to high blood pressure.

In stressful situations, the body releases the hormone cortisol which narrows blood vessels and causes a temporary rise in blood pressure. A randomized controlled trial published in Psychopharmacology investigated the effect of vitamin C on stress, cortisol and blood pressure.  A total of 120 healthy young adults were divided into 2 groups.  The treatment group received a high (3,000 mg per day) dose of sustained-release vitamin C.  The control group received a placebo.

After 14 days, the participants underwent the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), which was designed to induce a reliable stress response. The test involves preparing and giving a speech and preforming mental arithmetic out loud in front of a panel of observers while being filmed. Blood pressure readings, saliva samples and subjective stress ratings were taken before, during and after the TSST.

Compared to the placebo group, the vitamin C group had lower systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and subjective stress responses to the TSST. Their raised cortisol levels also took less time to return to normal.

A trial published in Clinical Science tested the hypothesis that the antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E are associated with a decrease in blood pressure.  Researchers recruited 110 men aged 35-60 who had high blood pressure with none of the usual risk factors such as obesity, diabetes or smoking.  Participants were randomly assigned to receive either a combination of vitamin C and E or a placebo daily.

Before and after the 8-week trial, participants’ blood pressure was monitored over 24 hours. Their blood was tested for markers of oxidative stress, antioxidant enzymes and vitamin C and E levels. Patients who took the vitamins had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure and higher blood antioxidant capacity compared with both the placebo-treated patients and their own measurements prior to treatment.

Researchers concluded that oxidative stress played a role in the development of hypertension with no identifiable cause and that antioxidant vitamins could be used as a therapy for hypertension.

A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reviewed 29 randomized controlled trials to determine the effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure. The trials were conducted between 1982-2010 and included 1,407 participants aged 22-74.  The average dose given was 500 mg per day for 8 weeks.  The pooled results showed that vitamin C supplementation significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.


4. Fights Against Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)

coronary artery disease cad vitamin c natural health benefits

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is associated with stiffening and narrowing of arteries and inappropriate platelet adhesion. The normal function of platelets in the blood is to stop bleeding by clumping and clotting blood vessel injuries.

In CAD, the platelets form a blood clot (thrombosis) within the artery, obstructing the flow of blood to the heart.  Nitric oxide has a variety of protective effects on blood vessels and platelets. Vitamin C increases the bioavailability of nitric oxide through its antioxidant activity.

A clinical study published in Circulation examined the effects of vitamin C treatment on dilation of the brachial artery in patients with CAD. A total of 46 patients visited a clinic where their vital signs were recorded and blood and urine samples were taken. Ultrasound was used to measure how much the brachial artery widened in response to an increase in blood flow.

The subjects were then randomized to receive either 2 grams of vitamin C or matched placebo tablets. Two hours later, their brachial artery dilation was remeasured.  Subjects continued to take either 500 mg per day of vitamin C or placebo tablets for the next month, then returned to the clinic for repeat measurements.

After a single dose of vitamin C, artery dilation improved from approximately 6% to 10%. The effect was sustained after a month of vitamin C treatment.  In the placebo group, measurements of dilation remained unchanged in the short and long term.

A small study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology examined whether vitamin C could reduce arterial stiffness and platelet aggregation. Researchers recruited 8 healthy male volunteers aged 20-42 and subjected them to several clinical tests.  A non-invasive technique called pulse-wave analysis recorded pressure waveforms from the radial artery in the non-dominant arm to measure arterial stiffness.  Blood was taken and analyzed for platelet aggregation.

Subjects then received either 2 grams of vitamin C orally or a matching placebo. All measurements were repeated after 6 hours.  The vitamin C group had a significant reduction in both arterial stiffness and platelet aggregation. The placebo group showed no change in these parameters.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Nutrition tested the effect of a nutritional supplement program on the progression of coronary artery calcification in 55 CAD patients aged 44-67.  The patients were given a high (2,700 mg) daily dose of vitamin C along with other vitamins and minerals.  They were instructed not to change their diet or lifestyle other than taking the nutritional supplements.

At the start of the study and after 6 and 12 months, the extent of coronary artery calcification was measured non-invasively with a computed tomography (CT) scanner. A Coronary Artery Scanning (CAS) score was calculated based on the area calcified and the density of calcium deposits.

The average monthly changes in the total CAS score for all 55 patients had decreased by 11% after one year on the nutritional supplement program. For a subset of patients with early coronary artery disease, the average monthly growth of the CAS score decreased by as much as 65%.

In one 51-year-old patient with early, asymptomatic, coronary artery disease, the initial scan revealed small calcifications in the left and right coronary arteries. When CT scans were taken after one year on the nutritional supplement program, coronary calcifications were not found.


5. Protects Against Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

alzheimer's disease dementia vitamin c natural health benefits

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the accumulation of amyloid-beta proteins in the brain. Amyloid-beta can induce oxidative stress in neurons and deplete the protective reserves of antioxidants in brain cells.

Studies have shown that antioxidants are neuroprotective and dietary antioxidants such as vitamin C may help patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

A Dutch cohort study published in JAMA investigated the relationship between dietary intake of antioxidants and risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  A total of 5,395 participants aged at least 55 and free of dementia were followed up for 6 years.

At the start of the study, participants completed a checklist of foods and drinks they had consumed at least twice a month during the preceding year and were interviewed by a dietitian. The data was fed into a computer program that calculated intake of vitamin A, flavonoids, vitamin C and vitamin E. Cognitive function was assessed with the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), a standard diagnostic tool for dementia.

Over the course of the study, 197 participants developed dementia, of whom 146 had Alzheimer’s disease. After adjusting for factors such as age, initial MMSE score, smoking, alcohol intake and BMI, high dietary intake of vitamin C and vitamin E were both associated with an 18% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  The protective effect was strongest among smokers, were vitamin C reduced Alzheimer’s risk by 35% and vitamin E reduced it by 42%.

A prospective study published in the Archives of Neurology examined the relationship between antioxidant supplement use and risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  Researchers analyzed data from 4,740 elderly participants in a population study held in Cache County, Utah.

At the start of the study, residents were tested to determine their cognitive status. They were also interviewed about suspected risk factors for dementia.  The interview included a question about vitamin supplements taken during the preceding 2 weeks.  Approximately 17% of participants reported taking vitamin E or vitamin C supplements.

After 3 years, the participants were reassessed for cognitive status. A total of 304 cases of Alzheimer’s disease were identified over the course of the study. After controlling for factors such as age, sex and general health, researchers found a trend toward reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease in those taking a combination of vitamin E and C supplements.

There was no notable significant reduction in Alzheimer’s risk with vitamin E or vitamin C alone or with multivitamins, which contain far less E and C than individual supplement capsules.


6. Fights Type 2 Diabetes

type 2 diabetes obesity vitamin c natural health benefits

Obesity is associated with high levels of the proinflammatory protein TNF-alpha, which plays a direct role in insulin resistance and diabetes.

Vitamin C decreases TNF-alpha, causing an increase in the uptake of glucose in response to insulin. Most type 2 diabetics have low levels of vitamin C and supplementation has been shown to lower fasting blood sugar.

A school-based study published in Diabetic Medicine examined whether low circulating vitamin C concentrations were associated with type 2 diabetes risk in children.  A multi-ethnic group of 2,025 children aged 9-10 provided researchers with blood samples after an overnight fast and were interviewed by a nutritionist about foods eaten on the previous day.

The blood samples were tested for vitamin C concentrations, circulating insulin, insulin resistance, cholesterol levels and other type 2 diabetes risk markers. Analysis showed that higher concentrations of vitamin C were consistently associated with lower insulin resistance, lower blood sugar and higher HDL ‘good’ cholesterol.

A pilot study published in Nutrients investigated the correlation between blood concentrations of vitamin C and metabolic health. Study participants included 35 individuals with normal blood sugar levels, 25 with prediabetes and 29 with type 2 diabetes. Participants completed 4-day food diaries and lifestyle questionnaires. Blood samples were taken following a 12-hour fast and analyzed for vitamin C levels, glucose levels and inflammation markers.

Vitamin C levels were significantly lower in the individuals with type 2 diabetes compared to those with normal blood sugar. Vitamin C levels were inadequate in 58% of participants with prediabetes and 52% of diabetics compared to 21% of the normal blood sugar group.

Excess body fat is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation which can lead to the development of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. A study published in Drug Design, Development and Therapy evaluated the effect of vitamin C on inflammatory markers in obese adults.

A total of 64 obese patients with high blood pressure and/or type 2 diabetes were randomized into a treatment group and a control group. The treatment group took 500 mg of vitamin C tablets twice a day. After 8 weeks, the vitamin C treatment achieved clinical significance for reducing markers of inflammation and fasting blood sugar levels.

A systematic review published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences examined the influence of vitamin C supplementation on type 2 diabetes. Researchers analyzed pooled data from 5 randomized placebo-controlled trials and concluded that vitamin C significantly lowers fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetics.


7. Cancer Prevention

cancer prevention vitamin c natural health benefits pink

According to a review article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there is strong evidence that vitamin C or vitamin-C-rich foods protect against cancers of the esophagus, oral cavity, stomach, and pancreas.

There is also substantial evidence of a protective effect in cancers of the cervix, rectum, and breast. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C help to neutralize free radicals before they can damage DNA and initiate tumor growth.

A meta-analysis published in Scientific Reports investigated the association between vitamin C intake and the risk of pancreatic cancer. The researchers reviewed 4 cohort studies and 13 case-control studies involving 4827 pancreatic cancer cases.  The pooled results showed that the highest vitamin C intake was associated with a 30% lower risk of pancreatic cancer compared to the lowest intake. The associations were significant in Caucasian, Asian and mixed populations.

A systematic review published in PLOS One examined the association between vitamin intake and gastric cancer. The researchers combined data from 47 studies including randomized placebo-controlled trials as well as prospective and observational studies. The pooled data showed a 23% reduced risk for gastric cancer in the highest vitamin intake group relative to the lowest vitamin intake group. When the researchers conducted a dose-response analysis on different types of vitamins they found that vitamin C intake of 100 mg per day was associated with a 26% reduced risk of gastric cancer.

A case-control study published in the International Journal of Cancer assessed the relation of diet to the risk of invasive cervical cancer. Researchers compared the diets of 189 Seattle women diagnosed with cervical carcinoma with those of 227 randomly selected women in the same area. The women were interviewed about their intake of 66 food items over the preceding year.

Analysis of the data showed that the more vitamin C the women consumed, the lower their risk for cervical cancer. Those with the highest intake of dietary vitamin C reduced their risk by 50% compared to those with the lowest intake.


8. Cancer Treatment

cancer treatment vitamin c natural health benefits

Research has shown that very high doses of vitamin C can kill cancer cells without harming normal tissue.

When vitamin C breaks down in the body, it generates hydrogen peroxide. Normal cells use an enzyme called catalase to remove hydrogen peroxide before it can cause damage. Cancer cells with lower amounts of catalase activity are susceptible to damage and death when exposed to the hydrogen peroxide generated by vitamin C.

In a clinical trial, 11 brain cancer patients who were undergoing radiation therapy and chemotherapy were given intravenous infusions of vitamin C to create blood concentrations up to 500 times higher than levels seen with oral supplements. The infusions were administered 3 times a week for 2 months, then twice a week for 7 months. The patients given high dose vitamin C therapy survived 4-6 months longer than the average survival time for patients undergoing conventional treatment. The researchers noted only minor side-effects including dry mouth and occasional high blood pressure.

A German cohort study published in In Vivo evaluated the safety and efficacy of intravenous vitamin C for women with breast cancer.  All of the subjects received standard tumor therapy. Researchers compared data from 53 patients who were treated with intravenous vitamin C for at least 4 weeks with data from a control group of 72 similar patients who did not have vitamin treatment. Intravenous vitamin C significantly reduced the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy such as nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite. The intensity score of symptoms was nearly twice as high in the control group compared to the study group.


9. Beautiful Skin and Hair

vitamin c beautiful shiny hair skin

Collagen is a structural protein essential for firm, young-looking skin. Vitamin C plays a vital role in the formation of collagen. It also leads to the growth of shiny, healthy and beautiful hair.

In fact, research has shown that treating human skin with vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C also help to protect the skin from free-radical damage caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun. While dietary vitamin C helps to protect and repair the skin, vitamin C can also be applied topically in the form of serums, creams and lotions.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluated the associations between dietary nutrients and skin-aging appearance in 4,025 women aged 40-74. The participants were interviewed about all foods and beverages consumed over a 24-hour period and researchers estimated nutrient intake for each food and beverage reported. Dermatologists conducted clinical examinations of participants’ skin and rated 3 signs of aging: wrinkles, dryness and skin thinning.

Higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance and dryness caused by aging. These associations were independent of age, sunlight exposure and menopausal status. The only other nutrient associated with better skin-aging appearance was linoleic acid (found in vegetable oils).

A study published in Experimental Dermatology tested a cream containing 5% vitamin C on sun‐induced skin aging. Female volunteers with photoaged skin applied the vitamin C cream to one side of their lower neck and one arm. They applied the same cream, but without the vitamin C, to the opposite side and arm. The volunteers weren’t told which cream was active and which was the control.

After 6 months, clinical examination by a dermatologist and self‐assessment by the volunteers revealed a significant improvement on the vitamin C‐treated side. Skin biopsies examined under the microscope showed that vitamin C treatment significantly increased the density of skin, decreased deep furrows and promoted elastic tissue repair.

Male pattern baldness occurs when the dihydrotestosterone hormone activates the production of a protein called DKK-1 which inhibits the function of papilla cells. A Korean study investigated the effect of L-ascorbic acid 2-phosphate (Asc 2-P), a derivative of vitamin C, on dermal papilla cells taken from a balding scalp. Asc 2-P stopped the production of DKK-1.

In another study, the scientists found that Asc 2‐P led to an increase in the production of the growth factor IGF-1 in papilla cells. It promoted elongation of hair shafts in human hair follicles and induced hair growth in mice.


Final Word

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 90 mg per day for men and 75 mg per day for women. The Institute of Medicine estimates that the average dietary intake of vitamin C for American adults is 102 mg per day.

That means that, if you eat reasonable amounts of fruit and vegetables, you’ll get enough vitamin C to naturally obtain antioxidant protection.

However, if you’re concerned about any of the health conditions discussed above, you may choose to take supplements.

Research has shown that liposomal-encapsulated vitamin C supplements produce higher circulating concentrations of vitamin C in the body than standard oral supplements. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) of vitamin C for adults is set at 2 grams per day. Higher amounts can cause stomach upset and diarrhea.

7 Best Natural Remedies & Sleep Aids to Cure Insomnia

insomnia sleep disorder natural remedies sleep aids

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 50–70 million US adults have chronic sleep and wakefulness disorders. People experiencing insufficient sleep are at higher risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression.

Sleeping pills such as benzodiazepines are not recommended as a long-term solution because they can cause a number of side effects and some people become dependent on them. Luckily, certain herbs, foods and natural compounds have sleep-promoting properties. Some have even been shown to be just as effective as prescription drugs with fewer side effects.

Symptoms of Insomnia

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) reports that about 30% of Americans have symptoms of insomnia. Middle-aged and older adults are more prone to having poor sleep than younger people and women are more likely to develop insomnia than men.

Signs of Insomnia:

  • Difficulty initiating sleep and lie awake in bed
  • Struggle to maintain sleep and wake up frequently throughout the night
  • Wake up too early and are unable to go back to sleep
  • Feel tired after waking in the morning
  • Feel fatigued and irritable during the day
  • Find it difficult to concentrate due to tiredness

Primary insomnia is sleeplessness that cannot be attributed to an existing medical, psychiatric or environmental cause. Secondary insomnia is sleeplessness associated with a physical or mental illness.

7 Evidence-Based Natural Remedies for Insomnia and Poor Sleep

1. Melatonin

melatonin decrease blue light electronics natural light hormone

Melatonin is a hormone produced nocturnally by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin is naturally released in response to darkness and falls to very low levels during daylight hours. Research has shown that it primes brain activation patterns in anticipation of sleep.

Melatonin supplements are a popular remedy for jet lag or sleep problems associated with shift work due to the hormone’s ability to reset the internal body clock. Several studies have also found that melatonin can be an effective treatment for poor sleep or insomnia.

A clinical trial published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment examined the effects of melatonin supplementation in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors. A total of 95 women who had completed cancer treatments were enrolled in the study, 52% of whom reported poor sleep. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 3 mg of oral melatonin or a placebo daily for 4 months.

All of the women were assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PQSI) before and after the trial. The group who took melatonin had significantly improved sleep quality, less daytime dysfunction and better PSQI total scores when compared with the placebo group.

Participants in the melatonin group who began the trial as poor sleepers also showed greater improvement in overall sleep quality. Of the poor sleepers in the melatonin group, 20% no longer had poor sleep after 4 months, compared to only 8% of poor sleepers in the placebo group.

An Italian study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society investigated the effect of melatonin on long-term care facility residents. A total of 43 patients with primary insomnia were randomized to receive either a food supplement containing 5 mg of melatonin (along with magnesium and zinc) or a placebo one hour before bedtime, every day for 8 weeks.

The participants were evaluated using the PSQI, the Short Insomnia Questionnaire (SDQ) and two additional sleep questionnaires before and after the trial. Total sleep time was measured with a wearable armband sensor.

The melatonin group had significantly better improvement in total sleep time and overall PSQI and SDQ scores compared to the placebo group. They also had significant improvements in ease of getting to sleep, quality of sleep, sleepiness on awakening and morning alertness.

Natural melatonin production declines with age. A clinical trial published in BMC Medicine investigated whether older age or low melatonin excretion in the brain is a better predictor of response to melatonin supplementation. A total of 791 patients with primary insomnia were randomized to receive a 2 mg prolonged release melatonin tablet or a placebo tablet 2 hours before bedtime for 3 weeks. The placebo group was then re-randomized with half switching to melatonin tablets for the next 26 weeks of the trial.

The patients kept sleep diaries and were assessed with the PSQI. Physical examination and laboratory tests were performed at the initial screening, week 3, week 29 and at the end of the trial.

PSQI global scores improved in the melatonin group throughout the study. After 3 weeks, time taken to fall asleep significantly decreased in elderly patients (aged 65-80) taking melatonin tablets regardless of their initial melatonin levels. On average, they fell asleep 19 minutes faster compared to an improvement of just 2 minutes in the placebo group. The researchers concluded that low melatonin production is not useful in predicting responses to melatonin therapy in insomnia.


  • Take one 5 mg melatonin supplement tablet 20-30 minutes before bedtime.
  • You can help your body to naturally increase melatonin levels by exposing your eyes to bright light when you wake up in the morning and avoiding exposure to bright light 2-3 hours before bedtime. Blue light from LED bulbs, smart phones, computer screens and televisions mimics sunlight and can reduce or delay melatonin production.


2. Valerian

valerian herb root flowers gaba sleep insomnia natural remedies aid

The herb valerian causes sedation by increasing levels of GABA in the brain. GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that regulates depressive and sedative brain signals and is critical for relaxation. Research has shown that valerian extract promotes the release of GABA from brain nerve endings and inhibits an enzyme that destroys GABA.

A study published in Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior evaluated the effect of valerian on the sleep quality of 128 volunteers. Each participant received 400 mg of valerian extract, a commercial supplement containing 60 mg of valerian, and a placebo. The samples were identified only by a code number.

Participants took each one of the formulations three times in random order on 9 non-consecutive nights. They filled in a sleep questionnaire the morning after each treatment.

Compared with the placebo, 400 mg valerian extract significantly improved sleep quality and decreased the time it took to fall asleep. The effect was most notable among participants who considered themselves poor or irregular sleepers. The only significant change associated with the 60 mg of valerian supplement was an increase in reports of feeling sleepier than usual the next morning.

A small study published in Planta Medica investigated the effect of valerian on sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) in 8 volunteers with mild insomnia. The participants were all given sleep/activity meters to wear on their wrists in bed. Time of sleep onset was defined as the first period of 5 minutes without movement. Each volunteer was randomly assigned to receive one test sample each night for 12 nights: either 450 mg of valerian extract, 900 mg of valerian extract or a placebo.

Both doses of valerian extract significantly reduced average sleep latency from about 16 minutes down to 9 minutes. This is a similar reduction to that seen with prescription benzodiazepine sedatives. While the higher dose of valerian did not improve sleep latency more than the lower dose, it did cause an increase in sleepiness the next morning.

A German clinical study compared the efficacy and tolerability of valerian with that of oxazepam, a benzodiazepine medication used for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia. A total of 75 patients diagnosed with insomnia were randomized to receive either 600 mg of a valerian extract supplement or 10 mg of oxazepam.

The patients took the medication 30 minutes before going to bed over a period of 28 days. Before treatment, after 2 weeks and at the end of the study, patients were assessed and given a sleep rating by a physician.

Sleep quality improved significantly in both the valerian and oxazepam groups, and no statistically significant difference could be found between effectiveness of the herb and the drug. However, the valerian group reported fewer side effects.


Valerian supplements come in a variety of forms. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends the following doses to treat insomnia:

  • Tea: Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoonful of dried root, steep 5-10 minutes.
  • Tincture: 1 to 1 and 1/2 teaspoon
  • Fluid extract: 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
  • Dry powdered extract: 250 to 600 mg

Valerian may be taken up to 3 times daily, with the last dose near bedtime.


3. Lavender

lavender purple flowers field sunshine insomnia sleep disorder natural remedy aid

Lavender has long been used as a folk remedy for insomnia. Research has shown that, like valerian, lavender promotes relaxation by regulating GABA receptors and enhancing the inhibitory tone of the nervous system. Studies of lavender as a sleep aid have focused on the use of lavender essential oil in aromatherapy.

A Taiwanese study published in Evidenced-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine examined the effect of lavender aromatherapy in middle-aged women with insomnia. A total of 67 female insomniacs aged 45-55 were randomized into two groups. The experimental group inhaled lavender essential oil from an aromatherapy diffuser for 20 minutes, twice a week, for 12 weeks. The control group were educated in sleep hygiene.

Participants’ sleep quality was assessed at the beginning and end of the trial using a standard questionnaire. The total sleep quality score of study subjects significantly improved in the experimental group, while no significant difference was observed in the control group.

A study published in Chronobiology International examined the effects of lavender aromatherapy on sleep. Researchers recruited 31 young healthy men and women to spend 3 nights in a sleep laboratory with their brain waves monitored by polysomnography.

On the second night, they were randomized to receive a vial containing either lavender oil or distilled water. They smelled the vials intermittently for a half hour before bedtime. On the third night, the vials were swapped over and the process was repeated.

Polysomnographic data showed that lavender increased the percentage of deep or slow‐wave sleep. In addition, all subjects reported feeling more vigorous the morning after lavender exposure.

A Japanese study published in Sleep and Biological Rhythms investigated the effects of essential oil inhalation on objective and subjective sleep quality. Participants wore wrist sleep/activity meters for 15 nights as they inhaled either lavender or sweet orange essential oil. They also completed sleep quality questionnaires. Midway through the study they crossed over to the other essential oil.

The objective actigraphy data showed that aromatherapy improved sleep measures in participants whose sleep quality was poor in the control condition, with lavender being more effective than orange.

The subjective sleep data from questionnaires also showed that the essential oils improved sleep for participants who started out with poor sleep quality. Interestingly, the participants believed that sweet orange was more effective than lavender. The researchers note that the difference between the objective and subjective interpretation of the effectiveness of the two oils suggests that expectancy bias did not influence the effect of lavender on sleep.


There are several ways to use lavender essential oil as a sleep aid:

  • Add a few drops of oil to an aromatherapy diffuser to fill your bedroom with fragrance.
  • Add 15 drops of lavender essential oil to 1 ounce of almond oil and massage into your skin before sleep.
  • Put a few drops of lavender oil on a handkerchief, hold it near your nose and breath in the scent every few minutes starting 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Mix a few drops of lavender oil with water in an atomizer and lightly mist onto your pillow.


4. Cherries

cherries cherry juice melatonin insomnia sleep disorder natural remedy aid

When researchers conducted a study to test whether tart cherry juice could prevent the symptoms of exercise induced muscle damage, several participants reported that the drink helped them sleep better. Since then, a number of studies have been carried out confirming that cherries or cherry juice can improve sleep quality. Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

A pilot study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food investigated the effectiveness of a cherry juice drink for the treatment of insomnia. Researchers recruited 15 elderly adults with insomnia and randomized them to receive a commercial tart cherry and apple juice blend or an identically packaged placebo drink.

Each participant drank one 8-ounce serving in the morning and one before bedtime. After 2-weeks of treatment and a 2-week break, the participants switched beverages for a further 2-weeks. Sleep quality was assessed from daily sleep diaries and rated on the Insomnia Severity Index. The cherry juice drink was associated with modest, but significant, improvements in sleep continuity and significantly reduced insomnia severity when compared to the placebo.

A crossover trial published in the European Journal of Nutrition investigated whether cherry juice would increase urinary melatonin levels and improve sleep quality in healthy adults. A total of 20 volunteers were randomized to consume either a tart cherry juice concentrate or a placebo for 7 days. They were then given the other beverage for a further 7 days. The participants all wore sleep/activity meters on their wrists in bed and completed sleep questionnaires. They were also asked to provide urine samples.

A urine analysis showed that total melatonin content was significantly elevated when participants drank cherry juice. Supplementation with cherry juice also significantly increased total sleep time and sleep efficiency (the ratio of time spent asleep compared to the time spent in bed). Researchers concluded that tart cherry juice provides an increase in melatonin that is beneficial for improving sleep duration and quality.

A study published in the Journals of Gerontology evaluated whether cherry consumption influences the sleep/wake cycle and melatonin. Researchers recruited 12 volunteers aged 35-85. Twice a day, after lunch and dinner, the participants ate 200 grams of cherries from 7 varieties grown in the Jerte Valley of Spain. They wore sleep/activity meters on their wrists throughout the study period. Morning urine samples were collected at the start and end of the 3-day trial.

Consumption of each of the cherry varieties produced beneficial effects on actual sleep time and total nocturnal activity. All of the cherry cultivars also significantly increased urine melatonin levels. However, some of the sleep parameters measured, such as night-time awakenings and sleep latency, only improved after eating particular types of cherries.


For the most melatonin, choose a cherry variety such as Montmorency or Balaton or a juice made from tart cherries. Tart cherry juice concentrate is available from health food stores.


5. Kiwi and Tropical Fruits

kiwi smoothie drink green tropical fruit insomnia sleep disorder natural remedy aid

Kiwi fruit is high in serotonin, a neurotransmitter which is associated with REM sleep. Kiwi is also rich in folate (vitamin B12). Low serotonin levels or a folate deficiency can result in insomnia.

A Taiwanese study evaluated the effects of kiwifruit on sleep patterns. Researchers recruited 24 participants (aged 20-55) with self-reported sleep disturbances. They were all given Actigraph sleep/activity logger watches and instructed to consume 2 kiwifruits 1 hour before bedtime. Participants were assessed with the Chinese version of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (CPSQI) before and after kiwi therapy. They also kept sleep diaries.

After 4 weeks of kiwifruit consumption, CPSQI scores improved by 42%. Time taken to fall asleep decreased by 35%. Night waking time decreased by 29%, and total sleep time increased by 13%.

A clinical study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry assessed the melatonin content of 6 tropical fruits and its absorption in the human body. Most of the fruits showed moderate melatonin content when analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography. Researchers recruited 30 healthy volunteers to consume each of the 6 fruits one at a time, with a 1-week wash-out period between fruits. Their urine samples were then tested for aMT6-s, a marker of circulating melatonin in the body.

Three fruits showed significant increases in urine aMT6-s concentrations. Pineapple was the best source of dietary melatonin with an increase of 266%, followed by banana with an increase of 180% and orange with an increase of 47%. The researchers note that further study is needed regarding the effect of fruit consumption in people with age-related melatonin reduction problems such as sleeplessness.


The studies above suggest that daily consumption of a pineapple, banana and kiwi smoothie might help improve sleep.

6. 5-HTP

5-htp tryptophan high protein foods meat fish dairy beans nuts seeds insomnia sleep disorder natural remedy aid

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a chemical compound that the liver makes from the essential amino acid tryptophan (found in protein-rich foods). 5-HTP travels through the bloodstream to the brain where it is converted into the calming, mood-enhancing neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin can subsequently be converted into melatonin, the hormone which regulates the sleep/wake cycle.

While 5-HTP is naturally produced in the body, 5-HTP supplements, made from the African climbing shrub, Griffonia simplicifolia are a popular sleep aid. Research has shown that oral 5-HTP supplements are well absorbed with about 70% of the compound ending up in the bloodstream. 5-HTP easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and effectively increases synthesis of serotonin.

A randomized controlled trial published in the American Journal of Therapeutics tested a supplement containing 5-HTP and GABA in patients with sleep disorders. A total of 18 patients were randomized to receive either the supplement or a placebo. All of the patients filled out daily sleep questionnaires. Autonomic nervous system function was measured using electrocardiographic recordings.

Time taken to fall asleep was significantly reduced from 32 minutes to 19 minutes after taking the 5-HTP supplement. There was no significant difference in sleep latency time in the placebo group. Duration of sleep increased significantly from 5 hours to nearly 7 hours in the supplement group, compared to no significant difference in the placebo group. Ease of falling asleep, night time awakenings and morning grogginess also improved for the supplement group, along with objective measurements of autonomic nervous system function.

A pharmacological trial published in the European Journal of Pediatrics tested 5-HTP for the treatment of sleep terrors in children. Sleep terrors (or night terrors) are episodes of intense panic, screaming, flailing and bolting upright while still asleep.

Researchers recruited 45 children aged 3-10 who had been referred to a sleep center for sleep terrors. All subjects underwent a neurological examination and EEG recording while awake and sleeping. A treatment group of 31 patients were given 5-HTP to take at bedtime.

After 1 month of 5-HTP treatment, 94% of patients showed a positive response. After 6 months, 84% of children treated with 5-HTP were sleep terror-free. In contrast, 71% of the untreated children continued to experience sleep terrors at the 6-month follow-up.


  • Take one 200 mg of 5-HTP supplement capsule daily. Do not exceed the recommended dose.
  • You can also modestly increase your levels of 5-HTP by adding more tryptophan to your diet. Tryptophan is present in most protein-rich foods. High protein foods that are good sources include: meat, fish, dairy products, beans, nuts and seeds.


7. Magnesium

magnesium bananas seeds nuts green leafy vegetables almonds yogurt dark chocolate avocado insomnia sleep disorder natural remedies aid

Research has shown that approximately 50% of Americans consume less than the estimated average requirement for magnesium. Magnesium is vital for the functioning of GABA to ease the brain into a calm, relaxed state. Magnesium also decreases cortisol, a stress hormone that helps to keep you alert. Magnesium deficiency can lead to agitated sleep with frequent nighttime awakenings.

A clinical trial published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences evaluated the efficacy of magnesium supplementation for treating insomnia in the elderly. A total of 46 adults aged 60-75 diagnosed with insomnia were randomly allocated to receive 500 mg of magnesium or a placebo daily for 8 weeks. Before and after the trial, participants completed sleep logs and insomnia severity questionnaires. Their blood samples were tested for magnesium, melatonin and cortisol.

Dietary magnesium supplementation brought about significant increases in sleep time, sleep efficiency and concentrations of melatonin. It also resulted in significantly lower insomnia scores, shorter sleep onset time and decreased cortisol concentration.

A pilot study published in Sleep assessed the efficacy of magnesium therapy for insomnia and restless legs syndrome. Researchers gave oral magnesium supplements to 10 patients suffering from insomnia related to periodic leg movements during sleep. Their sleep was monitored with polysomnography.

After 4-6 weeks of magnesium treatment, leg movements associated with night-time waking significantly decreased from an average of 17 to an average of 7. Leg movements without arousal were moderately reduced. Sleep efficiency also significantly improved.


  • Magnesium supplements are available in many forms. Magnesium gluconate, magnesium citrate and magnesium lactate are the most easily absorbed. The level of vitamin B6 in the body also determines how much magnesium will be absorbed into the cells. Magnesium may increase the risk of negative side effects with certain medications. If you are taking any prescription drugs, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking magnesium.
  • Foods naturally rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, seeds, nuts, beans, fish, nuts and dark chocolate. However, the amounts of magnesium in plant foods will vary depending on the mineral content of the soil they were grown in. Processed or refined foods may be depleted of magnesium.


Final Word

In addition to adding more sleep-promoting foods to your diet or taking supplements, ensure that you practice good sleep hygiene.

  • Make sure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet.
  • If your mattress, pillows or covers are uncomfortable, consider an upgrade.
  • Don’t drink caffeinated beverages after 5 PM (or earlier if you are sensitive to caffeine).
  • Get sufficient exercise during the day.
  • Relax with calming activities such as reading for 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

For more information, read these 7 Tips on How to Get Better Sleep.