Natures bounty for women’s health

Here's a list of natural elements that are beneficial for women's health

healthy smiling womanWomen, especially the ones close to menopause, are at a higher risk of developing many diseases. But nature has provided for a way to minimise this risk. Here’s how…

Evening primrose

Evening primroseEvening primrose has gamma-linolenic acid [GLA], an omega-6 essential fatty acid, which helps in boosting the immune system and in conditions of genuine deficiency. It has the potential to prevent cardiovascular conditions, certain cancers, and diabetes.

Research also suggests its use in the treatment of ageing problems, alcoholism, acne, heart disease, hyperactivity in children, multiple sclerosis, weight control, obesity, PMS [post menstrual syndrome] and schizophrenia.

It is effective in alleviating the symptoms of, menstruation, endometriosis and fibrocystic breasts.

Green tea

Green TeaIt is a type of tea made solely with the leaves of Camellia sinensis that has undergone minimal oxidation during processing. Common green and black tea leaves consist of about 25 – 30 per cent flavonoids, including quercetin, gallic esters, carotenoids, tocopherols, ascorbic acid [vitamin C], minerals such as chromium, manganese, selenium or zinc, and certain phytochemical compounds.

Research suggests that women who drink green tea regularly can fight ovarian and breast cancers better. They also have less heart disease and stroke, lower total and LDL cholesterol, and recover from heart attacks faster. Green tea with honeysuckle is known as pimple tea and helps in normalising hormones and weight.

Women who drink sufficient amount of green tea before menopause reduce, by more than 50 per cent, their chances of suffering from breast cancer or its severity and recurrences also are lowered. This also helps in maintaining weight, and prevents complications of obesity.

Ginko biloba

Ginko bilobaIt is said to be one of the most researched and abundantly sold herbs. Its extract improves circulation to brain and all parts of the body. It can thus be of help in treating poor concentration, confusion, absent-mindedness, decreased physical performance, fatigue, headache, dizziness, premenstrual syndrome, depression, and anxiety.

Bioflavonoids and carotenoids

Bioflavonoids and carotenoids are compounds that help women in many ways. They are present in several natural sources.

Bioflavonoids: These are plant-based ubiquitous nutrients that are known for their rich pigments and antioxidant activities. They are also nature’s biological response modifiers because of strong experimental evidence of their inherent ability to modify the body’s reaction to allergens, viruses, and carcinogens. Sources of bioflavonoids include apricots, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, oranges, prunes, and rose hips. Other major sources of bioflavonoids include tea, vegetables such as broccoli and eggplant, flaxseed, and whole grains.

Carotenoids: They serve as antioxidants, and a source of vitamin A—the most essential vitamin to protect vision. Nearly 600 of them or more are from plants and some of them are beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and lycopene, [tomato, watermelon] lutein, [spinach, green leafy vegetables] and phytoene. They are highly coloured ranging from pale yellow to bright orange or deep red and are found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables.

Some foods which are rich in carotenoids are beans, broccoli, carrots, onion, spinach, turnip, celery, corn, egg, kale, lettuce, orange, peaches, peas, lemons, cherries, apricots, mangoes, squash, sweet potatoes, papaya, pumpkin, and grapefruit.

Studies suggest that carotenoids protect against certain cancers, macular degeneration, cataracts, and cardiovascular problems. Apart from these benefits, the antioxidant action helps in preventing oxidative stress and enhances rejuvenation potential.

Women’s health research suggests that lutein may also have a role during pregnancy and lactation. Researchers have found lutein and zeaxanthin in breast milk and umbilical cord plasma, suggesting that these carotenoids may be transferred from mother to the baby. The role of these antioxidants has also been found to prevent health problems in menopausal women.

Shantala Priyadarshini
Shantala Priyadarshini, MS [Ayurveda], is an academician-researcher. Her areas of special interest are: chronic degenerative eye conditions, compromised states of immunity, cancer and auto-immune disorders. She lives in Mysore.


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