Using herbs on a daily basis to prevent disease, enhance health and well-being, increase one's ability to cope with stress and slow down the aging process is nothing new. The Chinese have been doing it for thousands of years. But only after Soviet scientists began studying herbs intensely in the 1950s did herbs attract the attention of Western health practitioners. What the Soviet studies showed is that certain herbs, which the Russians called "adaptogens," have the ability to normalize body functions. For example, if your blood sugar levels dip too low or your blood pressure jumps too high, an adaptogen will help your body return to normal levels with no harmful side effects. Adaptogens are most effective in helping people who are not in the extremes of poor or peak health but somewhere in the middle. Herbal adaptogens, specifically the 16 detailed in this book, hold great promise for the prevention of chronic illness because of their ability to enhance resistance to a variety of adverse influences. For instance, all types of ginseng have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and help the body cope with stress. Arctic root protects the nervous and endocrine systems and promotes healthy immunity. Studies show that elderberry protects the cardiovascular system and acts as an antiviral force, while licorice retards the growth of certain cancers. Green tea, drunk daily by millions of Chinese, detoxifies the liver, protects DNA and helps prevent heart disease.
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