Remember when kale got a PR team and became, like, the It-vegetable—suddenly no one cared about spinach or Swiss chard, even though they are arguably just as good for you. It was all kale, all the time. In the world of wellness, it seems like something similar is happening; really cool, totally great for you herbs and supplements are being overshadowed by those that are en vogue. With that in mind, we decided to shed some light on these little-known superherbs that boast major health benefits. Get ready to impress your friends over your adaptogenic Moon Juice lattes.
He Shou Wu
"He Shou Wu is an herb that has been used for centuries as an anti-aging, blood-building, beauty, and rejuvenation food," says Mafalda Pinto Leite, licensed nutritionist and herbalist, and author of Radiant.
"Famous for its ability to stimulate hair growth and for getting rid of gray hair, this herb is also wonderful for balancing hormones, improving adrenal function, and nourishing skin for an overall glow. An excellent source of iron and zinc, it is believed to raise the SOD (super oxide dismutase) levels in the body, which assist in clearing free radicals from the system, making for a deeply restorative tonic."
"This herb comes from the asparagus family and has been used in Ayurveda for years as a reproductive tonic to strengthen hormone balance, help with fertility and help women transition through menopause," says Dr. Taz Bhatia, MD, integrative health expert, nutritionist and author of What Doctors Eat.
"Eating asparagus can help, although shatvari is specific to the ramneous family not the officialis family that we see in the grocery story," she adds. "I typically supplement with one to two grams per day."
Amla (Indian Gooseberry)
This herb derived from the Indian gooseberry is one of the highest sources of vitamin C and has been used to prevent aging, hair loss and boost immune function. Amla can be eaten as well and is used in soups and juices," says Dr. Bhatia.
"Schisandra is perhaps the most beautifying herb of all," says Leite. "This little red berry grows in northern China and Russian, and is known in Chinese medicine as the 'herb that does it all.' Schisandra helps purify the blood, while also supporting strong memory function and a healthy libido."
"Take schisandra daily to dramatically improve your skin: Due to the astringent quality of schisandra, your skin will retain moisture, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and creates a youthful glow."
"Milk thistle is a liver-supporting herb that helps to remove toxins from the body and support overall detoxification," says Dr. Bhatia. "It can be used in the form of a tea or tincture as well. I have used milk thistle in practice to help with detoxification of accumulated estrogen and removal of accumulated pesticides. The standard dose is 200 mg per day."