Quantcast
Food

4 Natural Supplements That Are as Powerful as Drugs

By Kris Gunnars

Most supplements don't really work, or at least haven't been proven to work. However, there are some exceptions to this. In fact, a few supplements are so effective that they are comparable to pharmaceutical drugs.

Here are four natural health boosting supplements that are as powerful as drugs (if not more):

Garlic and curcumin are two natural supplements that boost your immune health.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

1. Berberine Drastically Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Improves Metabolic Health

Berberine is a bioactive substance that is extracted from certain plants.

It isn't well known, but may just be the single most powerful supplement on earth.

Berberine provides all sorts of health benefits, but is particularly effective at lowering blood sugar levels (1).

It is believed to lower blood sugar via numerous mechanisms, including reducing glucose production in the liver and improving insulin sensitivity (2, 3).

Studies have shown that taking berberine can lower blood sugar levels to a similar extent as the popular diabetes drug metformin (4).

In a study of 116 patients with type 2 diabetes, berberine lowered fasting blood sugar levels by 20 percent and HbA1c (a marker for long-term blood sugar levels) by 12 percent (5).

Berberine is also very effective at improving other health markers. It leads to major reductions in total and LDL cholesterol, and lowers blood triglycerides and blood pressure levels, which should lead to a reduced risk of heart disease (1, 6, 7, 8).

Berberine has also been shown to have anti-bacterial effects, and may be protective against heart failure, cancer and Alzheimer's disease (9, 10, 11, 12).

Keep in mind that berberine is a very powerful supplement, with a wide range of biological effects, so use it with caution.

Definitely consult with your doctor if you are currently taking any other medications.

Bottom Line: Berberine is a powerful supplement. It can lead to major reductions in blood sugar levels and improvements in most major risk factors for heart disease, to name a few.

2. Curcumin (From Turmeric) is a Potent Anti-Inflammatory Agent

Turmeric is a popular spice, known for giving curry its yellow color.

It has been used in India for thousands of years as a medicinal herb.

Turmeric contains a powerful biologically active substance called curcumin, which has been studied thoroughly in recent years (13).

Curcumin fights inflammation at the molecular level by blocking an inflammatory signalling molecule called NF-kB (14, 15).

It is so effective that it has compared favorably to anti-inflammatory drugs in some studies, without any major side effects (16, 17).

For example, it has been shown to be very effective in treating arthritis. In a study of 45 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 500 mg of curcumin per day was more effective than the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac (18).

Curcumin also has numerous other health benefits. It is a powerful antioxidant, can improve heart health, and may help prevent cancer and Alzheimer's (19, 20, 21 22).

According to one study, curcumin can also help fight depression. In this study of 60 depressed patients, curcumin was as effective as the antidepressant drug prozac (23).

Curcumin is poorly absorbed, so it is better to get a supplement that also contains piperine/bioperine, which has been shown to enhance absorption by 2,000 percent (24).

Bottom Line: Curcumin is the biologically active agent in turmeric. It is a very powerful anti-inflammatory substance that may help fight numerous diseases.

3. Red Yeast Rice Contains a Natural Statin, Which Can Lower Cholesterol and Help Prevent Heart Disease

Statin drugs are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world.

They inhibit the production of cholesterol in the liver, leading to significantly reduced cholesterol levels in the blood.

Interestingly, an extract of a type of fermented rice called red yeast rice may have similar effects.

Red yeast rice contains a substance called monacolin K, which is identical to the statin drug Lovastatin (25).

Read page 1

According to a review that looked at 93 controlled trials, red yeast rice can lower total cholesterol by 34 mg/dL, LDL by 28 mg/dL, triglycerides by 35 mg/dL and increase HDL (the “good" cholesterol) by 6 mg/dL, on average (26).

In a massive Chinese study of 5,000 heart attack patients, red yeast rice lowered the risk of subsequent heart attacks by 45 percent and reduced the risk of dying during the study period by 33 percent (27).

Unfortunately, the amount of the active ingredient can vary up to 100-fold, depending on which brand of red yeast rice you get (28).

Therefore, there is no guarantee that you are getting a pharmacologically active dose, and it may not work as well as it did in the studies.

Keep in mind that, although “natural," red yeast rice functions just like a statin drug, and may have similar side effects.

Definitely do not take this supplement without speaking to your doctor first.

Bottom Line: Red yeast rice contains a substance that is identical to the statin drug Lovastatin. It can significantly reduce cholesterol levels, and lowers the risk of heart attacks and death in people who already have heart disease.

4. Garlic Can Cause Major Reductions in Blood Pressure

Garlic is arguably one of the tastiest ingredients in the world.

It has been used as a medicinal plant for a very long time, including by the Greeks and the Romans (29).

The main effects of garlic are mediated by its active compound, allicin, which is highly beneficial for heart health (30).

Studies have shown that garlic can lower total and LDL cholesterol by about 10-15 percent, on average (31, 32, 33).

Even more importantly, it can significantly lower blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and early death (34, 35).

In people with high blood pressure, garlic can lower systolic blood pressure by 8.4 mmHg, and diastolic blood pressure by 7.3 mmHg, on average (36).

In one study of 210 people with high blood pressure, aged garlic extract was even more effective than the blood pressure lowering drug atenolol (37).

Garlic also appears to be effective at boosting immune function and helping to fight the common cold, the world's most common infectious disease.

In one study, it reduced the number of colds by 63%, and reduced the duration of cold symptoms by 70%, or from an average of 5 days to an average of 1.5 days (38).

Bottom Line: Garlic has a wide range of biological effects. It can lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels and help fight the common cold.

Take Home Message

Supplements, no matter how effective, can never replace a healthy lifestyle with real food, exercise and good sleep.

That being said, these natural supplements may be useful for people who need some “biological assistance," but still want to keep things as natural as possible.

Keep in mind that these supplements are incredibly powerful, and should be treated with respect.

If you currently have a medical condition or take any medication, then consult with your doctor before trying any of this out.

This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

12 Fruits and Veggies You Should Avoid (If Buying Non-Organic)

3 Alternatives to Cow's Milk for Kids

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Superfoods

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Popular
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, seen here speaking to the press about the Flint water crisis in 2016, will be the highest ranking official to stand trial over the public health disaster. Brett Carlsen / Getty Images

Judge Orders Michigan Health Director to Face Trial Over Flint Water Crisis Deaths

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon will be the highest ranking official to go to trial so far as a result of an investigation into the Flint water crisis, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Judge David Goggins ruled Monday there was probable cause for Lyon to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of Robert Skidmore and John Snyder that prosecutors say were due to a Legionnaires' disease outbreak that Lyon was aware of a year before he alerted Michigan's governor, Michigan Live reported. Lyons is also charged with misconduct in office.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Coal-fired power plant near Becker, Minnesota. Tony Webster / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Trump's 'Dirty Power Plan' Could Cost More Than 1,000 Lives a Year

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled on Tuesday its long-anticipated replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. The new coal pollution rules will increase planet-warming carbon pollution and could cost more than a thousand American lives each year, according to the EPA's own estimates.

EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler released the "Affordable Clean Energy Rule" today under President Trump's directive. The new plan encourages efficiency improvements at existing coal plants to ensure they operate longer and allows states to weaken, or even eliminate, coal emissions standards. That's a clear difference from former President Obama's plan, which was aimed at phasing out coal and transitioning to cleaner power sources to avoid dangerous climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Two workers in protective gear scrape asbestos tile and mastic from a facility at Naval Base Point Loma in California. NAVFAC / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Why Asbestos Is Still a Major Public Health Threat in the U.S.

Reports surfaced this month that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had proposed a significant new use rule (SNUR) for asbestos in June, requiring anyone who wanted to start or resume importing or manufacturing the carcinogenic mineral to first receive EPA approval.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Rklfoto / Getty Images

Bipartisan Group of Lawmakers Wants to End EPA’s Cruel Animal Testing

By Justin Goodman and Nathan Herschler

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Congress recently pressed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its "questionable" and "dubious" animal tests. The lawmakers' demand for information on "horrific and inhumane" animal testing at the EPA comes on the heels of a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found that high-tech computer models are more effective than animal tests.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Wikimedia Commons

Strongest, Oldest Arctic Sea Ice Breaks Up for First Time on Record

The Arctic is warming at a rate twice as fast as the rest of the globe, and now the region's thickest and oldest sea ice—also known as "the last ice area"—is breaking up for the first time on record, the Guardian reported Tuesday.

The breakage has opened up waters north of Greenland that are normally frozen-solid even in the peak of summer.

Keep reading... Show less
Energy
Climate Justice Edmonton

These Giant Portraits Will Stand in the Path of Trans Mountain Pipeline

By Andrea Germanos

To put forth a "hopeful vision for the future" that includes bold climate action, a new installation project is to be erected along the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion route to harnesses art's ability to be a force for social change and highlight the fossil fuel project's increased threats to indigenous rights and a safe climate.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
A worker inspects recycled plastic in a plastics factory. Getty Images

The Plastic Waste Crisis Is an Opportunity to Get Serious About Recycling

By Kate O'Neill

A global plastic waste crisis is building, with major implications for health and the environment. Under its so-called "National Sword" policy, China has sharply reduced imports of foreign scrap materials. As a result, piles of plastic waste are building up in ports and recycling facilities across the U.S.

Keep reading... Show less
Adventure
Aaron Teasdale

The One Thing Better Than Summer Skiing

By Aaron Teasdale

"There's snow up here, I promise," I assure my son Jonah, as we grunt up a south-facing mountainside in Glacier National Park in July. A mountain goat cocks its head as if to say, "What kind of crazy people hike up bare mountains in ski boots?" He's not the only one to wonder what in the name of Bode Miller we're doing up here with ski gear.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!