nutrition title image nutrition information site logo

top url strip

Herbal Supplements

Even natural herbal supplements may cause side effects.

Herbal supplements have become popular in recent years; perhaps you’ve used ginkgo to improve your memory or Echinacea for cold prevention but people have been taking medicinal herbs for thousands of years - just not in pill form. While, herbal nutrition supplements are a natural way to treat certain conditions or ailments, some may also cause results consistent with prescription or over the counter drugs and must be used with caution.

The common perception is that herbal or natural products are safe to use, and in many cases they are, but they are not all created equal. Chamomile can gently aid the digestion process and is safe to use while Kava is very potent and causes almost immediate results for treating anxiety and muscle relaxation. Many people are also allergic to certain herbs and supplements may interfere with other medications. Consult with your doctor or naturopath before adding any herbal supplements to your diet especially if you’re pregnant or nursing. Caution needs to be applied to the dosage and frequency.

Taking herbal dietary supplements can be a greater risk than prescription medication because they are regulated differently by the FDA.  Current regulations allow manufacturers to sell supplements without FDA approval; as long as there is supporting research of the benefits of the product and the label clearly state that the FDA hasn’t validated the claim the product can be sold. The onus is on the consumer to read herbal supplement labels and choose a brand that with good manufacturing practices and quality ingredients.

Some common herbal supplements and their uses include:

  • Astragalus: Used in combination with other herbs to boost the immune system and treat chronic hepatitis.

  • Cat’s Claw: Used to prevent or treat viral infections, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis.

  • Feverfew: Used to treat fevers, headaches, stomach aches, tooth aches and infertility.

  • Ginger: Used to treat diarrhea, stomach pains and nausea.

  • Green Tea : Used to treat and prevent cancer and help with mental alertness, weight loss and lowering cholesterol.

  • St. Johns Wort : Used to treat mental disorders, used as a sedative and as treatment for malaria, wounds, insect stings or bites and burns.

  • Valerian: Used for sleep disorders, anxiety, headaches, depression and irregular heartbeats.

Lastly, remember that a supplement is intended to shore up your diet and not replace it outright; it is not a miracle pill. Taking a herbal nutrition supplement can help to offset some of the negative effects of a hectic lifestyle, but those who regularly consume junk food will pay the consequences regardless of whether they use herbal diet supplements or not. Eating right and exercising consistently is the only way to achieve lasting health and an ideal body weight.

Home page of nutrition | Sources & Attributions


bottom copyright strip