Some studies testing cranberry products for their ability to pre vent urinary tract infections have shown promise. Research shows that components
found in cranberry may prevent bacteria, such as E. coli, from clinging to the
cells along the walls of the urinary tract and causing infection.
Possible side effects and cautions: Eating cranberry products in food
amounts appears to be safe, but drinking excessive amounts of juice
could cause gastrointestinal upset or diarrhea. People who think they
have a urinary tract infection should see a health-care provider for proper
diagnosis and treatment.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Ginkgo is one of the oldest living tree species, and its leaves are among
the most extensively studied botanicals in use today. In Europe and the United
States, ginkgo supplements are among the bestselling herbal medications, and
it consistently ranks as a top medicine prescribed in France and Germany.
For centuries it has been used throughout Asia as a tonic for the brain.
European studies have shown that ginkgo increases blood flow to the brain and
extremities, helping to improve memory and mental sharpness. Ginkgo may
also be helpful for early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, circulation problems,
vertigo and tinnitus.
Possible side effects and cautions: Side effects of ginkgo may incl ude
headache, nausea, gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, dizziness or allergic
skin reactions. More severe allergic reactions have occasionally been reported. There are some data to suggest that ginkgo can increase bleeding
risk, so people who take anticoagulant drugs, have bleeding disorders or
have scheduled surgery or dental procedures should use caution and talk
to a health-care provider if using ginkgo.
Grape seed (Vitis vinifera)
Grape seed extract is used for conditions related to the heart and blood
vessels, such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), high blood pressure, high cholesterol and poor circulation.
Other reasons for the use of grape seed extract include complications
related to diabetes, such as nerve and eye damage; vision problems, such as
macular degeneration (which can cause blindness); and swelling after an
injury or surgery.
Grape seed extract has more antioxidant activity than grape seed alone,
and is one of the richest sources of proanthocyanidins, antioxidants that
may limit damage by free radicals and help to keep artery walls flexible, an
important part of circulatory system well-being.
Possible side effects and cautions: Side effects that have been reported
most often include headache, a dry itchy scalp, dizziness and nausea. The
interactions between grape seed extract and medicines or oth er supplements
have not been carefully studied. Chec k with your physician.
From top to bottom: black cohosh,
ginkgo, milk thistle and saw palmetto.