Supplements Herbs

While most people consider adding vitamins and minerals to their diets, many don’t think about the benefits that herbs and herbal supplements can have for their overall health and well-being.

People use herbs to prevent disease and cure countless ailments. While some herbal remedies are effective, others have not yet been proven effective.

Adding Herbs to Your Diet

Herbs and herbal supplements are generally added to a person’s diet in one of a few ways:

  • in food through cooking
  • in herbal pillows (Herbal pillows are pillows that contain herbs that give off an aroma to induce deep sleep or dream-filled sleep.)
  • in herbal sprays (Herbal sprays are sprayed under the tongue and are beneficial for people who have a hard time swallowing herbal supplements in pill form.)
  • in herbal teas
  • in pill form.

Different herbs have different purposes. Some are to heal, some are to prevent diseases and some are simply to aid in overall health.

Common Herbs

While there are countless herbs used by people for a variety of health purposes, a few are more common and more widely used than others. These include:

  • aloe
  • black tea
  • cayenne (used in broths or juices for healing)
  • chamomile
  • Echinacea
  • fish oil
  • garlic
  • gingko biloba (taken most often in pill form)
  • ginseng
  • green tea
  • sage
  • St. John’s Wort
  • valerian
  • witch hazel.

While some people swear by herbs as cure-alls and health boosters, experts are still skeptical and are currently conducting research on the efficacy of herbs.

In most cases, people take herbs or herbal supplements in addition to taking other health and wellness precautions. Herbs should never be used in place of medication prescribed by a doctor. In addition, it’s important to discuss taking herbs with your doctor, especially if you’re taking any type of medication. Some herbs can have negative interactions with certain medications or may even decrease the efficacy of certain medications.

Tips for Choosing Herbal Supplements

Once you’ve decided to take an herbal supplement, there are still choices to make. Brands, dosage, other ingredients and more can all be variables in the selection process.

Follow these guidelines when picking out herbal supplements:

  • Begin with lower doses of an herb and work up to normal dosage. This will get your body used to the herb and ensure that no negative reactions occur.
  • Find the list of people who should not take the supplement on the bottle before purchasing.
  • Find the list of possible side effects on the supplement bottle.
  • For total control over herb intake, buy only single-herb supplements. This can cost more if you’re taking multiple herbs, but you’ll be in charge of what you’re consuming.
  • Make sure that the supplement lists all ingredients clearly, including active and non-active ingredients.
  • Make sure the company’s information is listed on the bottle (i.e., company name, address, phone number, Web site, etc.).
  • Make sure the supplement has an expiration date. Do not purchase after the expiration date or if you will not have enough time to use the supplement before the date.
  • Make sure the supplement is safely sealed.
  • Make sure to take the proper dosage. Talk to a doctor if you’re not sure about proper dosage.
  • Make sure you can identify the percentage of your herb present in the supplement.
  • Stick with well-known brands or brands you recognize or have researched.
  • Try to find herbs that are organically grown.

Resources

Life Tips (2007). Expert Alternative Herbal Healing Tips. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from the Life Tips Web site: http://herbsupplements.lifetips.com/cat/7335/alternative-herbal-healing/index.html.

Vitamin and Herb University (2007). Herb Information. Retrieved November 15, 2007, from the Vitamin and Herb University Web site: http://www.vitaminherbuniversity.com/information.asp?catid=4.