Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.



Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.



Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…


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gene expression and can change cell processes in the epidermis and dermis. Therefore, vitamin A can have potent effects on skin health.

Photoaging refers to clinical signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles, discoloration and roughness. Studies have demonstrated using topical retinoids can lead to visible improvement in smoothness, fine wrinkling and hyperpigmentation (discoloration). Aside from topical applications, including vitamin A in one’s diet is also critical for skin health. Research in the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics has reported a diet rich in vitamin A compounds can prevent cellular damage, skin aging and other skin diseases. Add vitamin-A-rich foods to your diet by eating fish such as salmon or tuna weekly. Dairy products such as milk, butter and cheddar cheese and eggs, carrots, sweet potatoes and green leafy vegetables are also excellent food sources of vitamin A.


The most common nutritional deficiency in the world is iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia (IDA). IDA is most often a presenting symptom of an underlying condition. It can be caused by celiac or inflammatory bowel disease, pregnancy, menstruation, hypothyroidism or low iron intake, among other causes. Depending on the degree of severity, IDA can be debilitating. It causes dizziness, extreme weakness, shortness of breath and headaches. In addition to these symptoms, IDA is known to contribute to a common type of hair loss diagnosed by dermatologists – telogen effluvium (TE) – when there’s a change in the number of hair follicles actively growing hair.

Unexpected and unexplained hair loss can be frustrating. Plus, hair loss can be linked to any number of different health conditions, including IDA, which can further increase confusion. If you suspect your hair loss is related to low iron, request a blood test at your next physical. This is the only way your doctor can diagnose IDA. In the meantime, incorporate iron-rich foods into your diet. Red meat, liver and other organ meats, fish, spinach, legumes and broccoli are all excellent dietary sources of iron. Please note: Do not use iron- containing supplements without asking your physician first.

Incorporate a variety of nutrient-dense foods into your daily diet for the health of your heart, liver and other major internal organs and body systems. And for the health of your largest organ – the skin! Your hair, skin and nails also depend on the availability of nutrients, antioxidants and water.

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This article was written by Ms. Gertrude Arthur, a graduate student in the Nutritional Sciences and Pharmacology Students (NSPS) Association within the Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Kentucky with supervision and contributions from faculty advisor Dr. Sara Police.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin as well as a potent antioxidant that protects the body from harmful compounds that are activated during stressful events. Through its antioxidant activity, vitamin E protects the epidermis and dermis, the two outermost layers of the skin, from oxidative stress and also prevents lipid peroxidation. This protection prevents skin damage and slows the aging process. According to a 2021 review on bioactive compounds for skin health, vitamin E also protects against redness and swelling through its photoprotective ability against UV radiation. Moreover, vitamin E increases blood flow, which increases the direct supply of nutrients to the skin, hair and nails for growth. Vitamin E is obtained through food sources such as nuts and seeds, including almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts. Fruits such as mango, kiwi and avocados are also natural sources of vitamin E4.

Vitamin A

You may have heard or read about retinoids as an ingredient in skin-care products. The term retinoids refers to vitamin A and the various compounds derived from it. In the skin, retinoic acid (a metabolite of vitamin A) modulates

A balanced and nutritious diet is critical for providing nutrients that are important to health and wellness and for the prevention of deficiency-based and chronic diseases. A few key nutrients that are particularly important for healthy hair and skin include B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin A and iron.

B-Complex Vitamins

B-complex vitamins are a group of water-soluble vitamins that are important for converting food to energy. They are thus known as the energy vitamins. B-complex vitamins include a group of eight: thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), vitamin B-6, biotin (vitamin B-7), folate (vitamin B-9) and vitamin B-121.

B-complex vitamins are important for the production of keratin and collagen, key proteins for the growth and maintenance of healthy hair and nails. They are also involved in the formation of new skin cells and red blood cells. Red blood cells supply the body with oxygen and nutrients, both of which are vital to hair growth. Biotin is critical for preventing hair dryness. B-complex vitamins are found in a variety of foods such as milk, eggs, whole grains and cereals, nuts and seeds, meat and poultry, dark green vegetables such as spinach, soy products and fruits such as bananas and watermelon.