Adverse side effects are a real possibility when taking traditional medicines. Today, many people are setting their sights on alternative methods for healing the body, restoring energy and reducing chronic pain. One such method is herbal supplements. According to a survey conducted by the National Health Services Department in 2012, nearly 18 percent of adults take some type of herbal supplement.
What are Herbal Supplements?
Herbal supplements, also known as botanicals, may be a plant, contain parts of plants, whole herbs, algae or fungi. Though the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate them, manufacturers do list the ingredients on every supplement label.
Common Herbal Supplements and their Benefits:
- St John’s Wort: An herbal supplement commonly used for depression. You can find them in a teabag, pill or capsule form. Many people also use St John Worts for sleeplessness, poor appetite, nervousness and being overly tired.
- Ginkgo Biloba: It comes from a tree that grows in China. In most cases, it’s in the form of an extract removed from the leaves. It has a high concentration of antioxidants and is used by many people to improve blood circulation and brain function.
- Ginseng: Much like Ginkgo Biloba, it is high in antioxidants and contains anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, people take the herbal supplement to reduce inflammation, improve skin conditions, enhance brain power, and reverse erectile dysfunction.
- Kava Kava: Many people use the plant extract kava kava to promote sleep and reduce stress and anxiety levels. You can find it in tablet form and teabags. According to frequent users, it provides a calming feeling that’s almost euphoric.
- Peppermint: The natural herb used for many generations, is aromatic and provides a fresh minty taste. As an herbal supplement, it helps calm the stomach, relieves pain, reduces the severity of migraines and helps reduce menstrual cramping. Peppermint also naturally freshens your breath.
- Ginger: Originating in China, the flowering plant is used as a spice for many dishes across the states. As an herb, it’s commonly used to reduce nausea, morning sickness, common colds, aid in digestion and reduce pain associated with extreme workouts and osteoarthritis.
- Echinacea: A flowering plant echinacea is very popular. It’s high in antioxidants and has many health benefits. It can reduce acid indigestion, alleviate pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, and help fight gum disease.
- Chamomile: Featuring flowers resembling tiny daisies, chamomile is soothing and helps many people relieve stress and anxiety and combat insomnia so they can fall asleep.
- Flax Seed: The plant herbal supplement is high in antioxidants and Omega-3s. It may help to reduce obesity, lower blood pressure, reduce hot flashes and inflammation and prevent colon cancer.
- Evening Primrose Oil: The oil extracted from the yellow flower may help to fight skin conditions such as eczema and reduce PMS symptoms.
The Benefits of Dietary Supplements
Dietary supplements provide an alternative for many people who want to refrain from using traditional medications and use natural ingredients. Many of the herbal and dietary supplements today provide relief to the user. Unfortunately, FDA regulations don’t apply to supplements. As such, only further studies conducted by researchers with larger groups of people can confirm or dismiss the benefits proclaimed. There are currently clinical trials on dietary supplements that show promise. One such supplement, Uqora, may help women who contract UTIs defeat them. Another plant-based herb, yerba santa, may one day prevent Alzheimer’s.
Herbal and dietary supplements are potent and are not without risks. Before taking any natural herbs, make sure to do your research. It’s also essential to your health and well-being, that if you currently take prescribed medications, that you consult with your doctor prior to adding them to your diet.