Herbal treatments can unfortunately get a bad rap sometimes. In the conventional medicine world they are seen as “woo woo”or not actual treatments because they sometimes lack the scientific evidence to back them up. However, if used correctly they can be very beneficial for a number of ailments. Here is my list of the top five herbal treatments that can be used to help alleviate MS symptoms.
Ginko Biloba has been a widely accepted herbal supplement to improve focus and memory for years. Along with improving cognition, ginkgo biloba has been shown to decrease leg pain, overactive nerves responses and possibly reduce dizziness and vertigo. Many things that MSers need! Usually it takes 4-6 weeks before individuals notice improvements while taking Ginko Biloba. Most individuals can safely try Ginko, but there is a risk of it interacting with some medications, especially blood thinners. It is also not advised for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and individuals with epilepsy, bleeding or seizure disorders.
Please check with your doctor before trying this one!
HOW TO USE: There is no standard dosage for Ginko, but usually people take between 120-600 milligrams when boosting cognition. Starting with 120mg is advised, then gradually increasing dosages.
You can also have it as an herbal tea that is mildly sweet.
Valerian has been used for medicinal purposes for over 1000 years. It is most widely known for its use in treating insomnia and sleep issues, unfortunately common occurrences with MS. However it is also known to treat anxiety, depression. When used for insomnia and sleep disturbances, you need to take it nightly to start noticing benefits as it takes some time to begin working. It’s not necessarily an immediate solution. Valerian is usually safe and well tolerated by most people. Since it is used for sleep issues, it can cause sedation, so be careful when taking it.
HOW TO USE:
For Sleep: Valerian Root is best taken 30 minutes to 2 hours prior to bed time. If taking capsules, 300-600mg works well. You can also make a tea by steeping 2-3 grams of dried valerian root in 1 cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes. As previously mentioned, this works best when used consistently for at least two weeks.
For Anxiety: A smaller dose works for anxiety, 120-200mg 3 times a day, with your last dose before bed.
Dandelion root and leaf boasts numerous health benefits. Research indicates that dandelion has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Other studies show that dandelion could improve immune system health and decrease fatigue. There are also uses of dandelion for digestive and liver health. No studies have been done that link dandelion directly to MS, but the benefits are clearly overlapping. Dandelion is generally safe, but if you’re allergic to ragweed, marigold, chamomile, daisies or iodine you may have trouble with dandelion. Also, if you gather it from the wild, make sure it is in an area that wouldn’t be sprayed with chemicals!
HOW TO USE:
One of the ways that I use dandelion in my life is dandelion root tea. It can be a great coffee substitute during the AIP elimination phase.
Dandelion leaves can also be used in salads in place of traditional greens.
Ginger is the powerhouse of an herb. It has been used for centuries for culinary and medicinal properties. On top of the wonderful digestive health benefits and anti-nausea effects, ginger has been shown to be anti-inflammatory and have neuroprotective effects. Ginger can also either reduce or inhibit generation of free radicals, prevent cell death and it is a strong anti-oxidant. Ginger also can help with muscle pain, lower blood pressure and lower cancer risk. Told you it was a powerhouse!
HOW TO USE:
The best ways I integrate ginger into my daily life are through cooking and drinking ginger tea. It can also be used in many home remedies for the common cough and cold, sore throats and fevers.
Burdock Root has been used for centuries as a healing tool in Chinese Medicine. The roots, seeds and leaves of the plant all boast healing benefits, and all different ones as well. The roots have been shown to help detoxify the blood and aid in circulation to the skin surface. The leaf has been shown to prevent the grown of oral microorganisms. The seeds have anti-inflammatory effects as well. It is also being studied for it’s potential to positively impact the GI system, skin issues, diabetes and cancer. Burdock root is a diuretic, so make sure to hydrate properly when taking it too.
NOTE: Burdock can create severe allergic reactions in some people, so please use with caution. It also looks very similar to belladonna, a toxic nightshade. Only buy from a reputable seller (don’t go hunting for it in the wild).
HOW TO USE: Burdock root should be consumed in moderation. Burdock root can be cooked like a veggie would in cooking. In Japan it is commonly found in meals and a few in particular. It should be soaked in cold water for 20 minutes, then it can be prepared the same way carrots would be and can also be eaten raw.
Burdock leaves are rather bitter and should be soaked before used in cooking,.
Burdock root can also be found in tea form, and only one cup should be consumed in a day.
Although Ashwaganda is widely used and very popular in Ayurvedic medicine, I was hesitant to add it to my list for several reasons. 1. It does have immune stimulating properties, which can be troublesome for some individuals with MS. 2. It is a nightshade, so if you are following AIP, then this one is a no go. However, it does have many benefits as well. Ashwaganda is considered an adaptogen, which means it is a substance that helps your body modulate it’s response to stress or environment. It has many cognitive benefits including improving memory, executive functioning focus and anxiety. It also can reduce brain cell degeneration, can promote new nerve growth and have anti-inflammatory properties. Ashwaganda has also been shown to have positive benefits for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients and help treat dyskinesia or involuntary movements. It also has properties that protect against environmental toxins and oxidative stress as well. There is some preliminary research that shows clinical use as promising.
HOW TO USE:
Aswaganda is usually taken in powder form and mixed with another drink or taken in capsule form.
There you go! My favorite herbal treatments for MS symptoms. Many of which I currently use, or have used in the past. As always, use your judgement. These herbs can have many benefits, but they are also very powerful. If you start experiencing side effects or start to feel unwell, stop taking the herb and contact your doctor.
All information, content, and material of this blog is for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.