Quercetin may be a major reason why eating an apple a day has been associated with good health. Quercetin, primarily found in apples and onions, is a type of flavonoid (plant pigment) and serves as a building block for other members of the flavonoid family.
Essential for hundreds of chemical reactions that occur in the body every second, the mineral magnesium has received surprisingly little attention over the years. Recent findings, however, suggest that it also has important health-promoting benefits, from an ability to prevent heart disease to a role in treating such chronic conditions as fibromyalgia and diabetes.
Naturopathic doctors have long recommended a classic herbal digestive combination (variously known as Robert’s or Bastyr’s Formula) for controlling the intestinal pain and inflammation associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both inflammatory bowel diseases.
Glutamine is a nonessential amino acid. “Nonessential” means that the body can create its own supply if the diet is lacking in glutamine-rich sources, such as poultry, fish, and legumes. Few people who are basically healthy and follow a balanced diet are deficient in this amino acid, one of the most abundant in the bloodstream. But there are some important exceptions.
Folic acid, also called folate or folacin, is a B vitamin with a solid reputation for protecting against birth defects and heart disease. If adults were to get an adequate amount of this vitamin, it is estimated that 50,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease could be prevented each year in the United States alone. Moreover, common birth defects could be cut nearly in half. Other ailments, such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain types of cancer may respond to the effects of folic acid as well.
Heralded for its heart-healthy actions, fish oils offer high concentrations of polyunsaturated fats called omega-3-fatty acids. While all fish contain these fats, cold-water fish–salmon, sea bass, tuna, trout, mackerel–are particularly rich sources because of their diet: plankton packed with omega-3s. Interestingly, the colder the water, the more omega-3s in the plankton. Cold-water fish also boast the most potent forms of omega-3s: the essential fatty acids known as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). Consumed as part of a fish-filled diet or in supplement form, omega-3s have myriad healing powers.
One of the safest medicinal herbs, chamomile is a soothing, gentle relaxant that has been shown to work for a variety of complaints from stress to menstrual cramps. This herb has a satisfying, applelike aroma and flavor (the name chamomile is derived from the Greek kamai melon, meaning ground apple), and it’s most often taken as a delicious, mild therapeutic tea. Concentrated extracts of chamomile are also added to healing creams and lotions or packaged as pills and tinctures.
Boswellia, also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” comes from the Boswellia serrata tree that grows in the dry hills of India. For centuries, traditional Indian healers have taken advantage of the anti-inflammatory properties of the tree bark’s gummy resin, called salai guggal. Modern preparations made from a purified extract of this resin and packaged in pill or cream form are used to reduce inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Unlike conventional NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen–the accepted treatments for joint inflammation–boswellia doesn’t seem to cause stomach irritation. It also may be effective for back pain and certain chronic intestinal disorders.