Humans rely on the earth’s resources for everything. The earth provides us with the materials for constructing our homes to feeding our families. Before we had the technology to create the pharmaceutical drugs that Western medicine relies on today, we used the earth’s natural resources to support our health.
Today, this practice is referred to as herbal medicine – the use of plant’s seeds, roots, leaves, bark, berries or flowers for their medicinal properties. As clinical research catches up with age-old medicine, we are continuing to learn more about the benefits of herbs for overall health and wellness.
This guide is all about the best herbal supplements and how they can help you support your health.
Why Should You Take Herbal Supplements?
Herbal supplements are generally easier on the body than pharmaceuticals, sometimes effective, and almost always cheaper. Being aware of the herbal remedies available for different conditions also broadens your choices.
The most effective herbal supplements can also help you with health goals such as enhanced skin health, hair health, reproductive health and athletic performance. Many of these plant-based products also contain natural antioxidants, which help fight off the aging and damaging effects of free radicals.
Beyond dependency concerns, many people also like to turn to herbal supplements where possible in order to avoid taking pharmaceuticals that can cause harsh side effects. Many medications, while effective, can cause a lot of unwanted side effects. That’s not to say there’s no risk of unwanted side effects when it comes to herbs – there is always some level of risk – but generally natural supplements have milder side effects.
Benefits of Herbal Supplements
Depending on the herbal supplement, there are many different health benefits that can be gained from these natural products. They can help to reduce inflammation, temporarily ease pain, promote cardiovascular health, provide beauty benefits and support athletic performance.
10 Best Herbal Vitamins & Supplements
What is Garlic?
Garlic is a plant species that belongs to the onion family. Its cloves contain a sulfur-based enzyme that has powerful scent and flavor, making it a popular cooking spice. It is packed with nutrients such as manganese, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, vitamin C, selenium, calcium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, iron and fiber.
It is a powerful immune booster and makes a good herbal supplement for the common cold. It also is antibacterial, and contains medicinal compounds. Garlic is a powerful herbal supplement that can be used to support health in a variety of ways.
Benefits of Garlic
Garlic is packed with nutrients and low in calories, making it a healthy addition to your diet. Garlic supplements can help boost the immune system and help fight off the common cold, reduce blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, improve athletic performance and detoxify the body. One study found that garlic can reduce the incidence of colds by 63% and reduce average length of cold symptoms by 70%.
How to Take Garlic
Garlic can be consumed in its raw form, as an extract, freeze-dried, powdered, or in pills and oils. Depending on the form, dosages may vary. In its raw form, you can consume it by mincing it.
Garlic Side Effects
Garlic is a very safe herbal supplement. Consuming raw garlic may cause bad breath, heartburn, gas etc. Garlic supplements may cause similar side effects, but raw garlic is more likely to cause them.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric is a plant that is related to ginger with roots that have medicinal properties. It has been used for its health benefits for at least 4,000 years, and is well known for its ability to help digestive issues, reduce inflammation and help fight infections. It is also a popular spice used in cooking, and is the main ingredient in Indian curries. It has a bright orange-yellow color that comes from its most active compound called curcumin.
Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric has beneficial anti-inflammatory properties and acts as a powerful antioxidant. It helps to support the immune system and fight free radicals, resulting in enhanced immunity and anti-aging benefits!
How to Take Turmeric
Turmeric can be taken in its raw form, as a powder, tincture, paste, teas, pills and tablets. Raw turmeric is fairly bitter and may not be the most enjoyable way to consume it. If you purchase a turmeric supplement, follow the instructions on the product for dosing.
Turmeric Side Effects
Turmeric is a generally safe and well-tolerated herbal supplement. However, some people may experience side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, gas etc.
What is Ginger?
Ginger is a flowering plant with tuberous roots that has medicinal properties, similar to turmeric. It is a popular spice that is full of nutrients and bioactive compounds that have medicinal properties. It has antibacterial properties that may help fight infections.
Like turmeric, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory as well! There are many uses for this top herbal supplement, and it can help to support your overall health in a number of ways.
Benefits of Ginger
Ginger can help to support your overall health by supporting the digestive system, potentially helping fight infection and promoting cardiovascular health.
The active ingredient in ginger is called gingerol and has antibacterial properties that help to protect your body from infections.
How to Take Ginger
Ginger can be taken in its raw form, as a ginger pill, powder, tablet, tea or extract. Due to its antibacterial properties, ginger should not be given to children under the age of 2.
Ginger Side Effects
Ginger has been used medicinally for hundreds of years and is very safe and well tolerated. However, some people may experience side effects such as heartburn, nausea, diarrhea etc.
What is Rhodiola?
Rhodiola rosea is a flowering plant that is used in Scandinavia and in traditional Chinese medicine. The plant is native to the Arctic regions of Europe and Asia.
Benefits of Rhodiola
Rhodiola helps to support the nervous system and improve the body’s physical response to stress. It does this by acting as an adaptogen, which is a plant that helps the body to resist the damaging effects of stress. It also helps to boost the body’s exercise performance, making it a good supplement for athletes.
How to Take Rhodiola
The best rhodiola supplements are often recommended to be taken about 15 minutes before a meal. Follow the instructions on your supplement for dosing.
Rhodiola Side Effects
Rhodiola may cause side effects such as dry mouth, dizziness, anxiety and changes in blood pressure. It is generally well tolerated in proper doses.
What is Ginseng?
Ginseng is an herb that has been used for at least 2,000 years in China and Korea. In traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng was used as a tonic, and believed to replenish energy. The root contains the active compounds ginsenosides, which are thought to be the source of ginseng’s health benefits.
Benefits of Ginseng
Ginseng is most well known for its ability to promote energy – it is even added to energy drinks such as Rockstar, Monster and AMP.
How to Take Ginseng
Ginseng is most effective when taken in cycles – for example, you can take ginseng daily for two to three weeks, and then stop taking it for two to three weeks; then repeat. Ginseng should not be given to children. For dosage instructions, check the supplement label.
Ginseng Side Effects
Ginseng supplements are generally well tolerated, but some people may experience side effects. If taken at high doses, side effects may include insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety etc.
What is Feverfew?
Feverfew is native to Europe, North and South America. Parts of the plant that are used include the leaves, and sometimes the stems and flowers. Some studies have found that feverfew may be beneficial for migraine headaches.
How to Take Feverfew
Feverfew can be taken with or without food in the forms of feverfew pills, tablets, and extracts. Feverfew can also be consumed fresh or as a tincture. Do not give feverfew to children under the age of 2.
Feverfew Side Effects
Feverfew is generally safe and well tolerated. However, if consumed fresh it may irritate the mouth due to its bitterness. Some people may experience side effects such as nausea, upset stomach, heartburn and more.
What is Milk Thistle?
Milk thistle, sometimes called holy thistle or Mary thistle, is a flowering plant that is related daisies. It is used as an effective herb supplement for detoxifying the liver. It is also a powerful antioxidant with anti-aging benefits. It is native to southern Europe and Russia, Asia minor and northern Africa. The main active ingredient in milk thistle is called silymarin, which is a potent antioxidant that helps to detoxify and protect liver health.
Benefits of Milk Thistle
As a powerful source of antioxidants, milk thistle has anti-aging and cardioprotective benefits. It also helps to inhibit harmful UV-rays that can damage your skin. Milk thistle is a good herbal supplement for those who are mindful of their health.
How to Take Milk Thistle
The best milk thistle supplements can be taken with or without food. Milk thistle may interact with certain medications, so talk to your doctor before adding milk thistle to your routine. Check your supplement for dosage instructions.
Milk Thistle Side Effects
Milk thistle does not generally cause negative side effects. However, some people may experience side effects such as stomach upset, nausea, rash etc.
What is Ginkgo Biloba?
Ginkgo biloba is one of the best selling herbal supplements in the United States. One of the oldest living tree species, this herb has been used throughout history to help memory and blood disorders.
Benefits of Ginkgo Biloba
Many of the benefits of ginkgo biloba are due to its effects of enhancing blood circulation.
How to Take Ginkgo Biloba
The most studied form of ginkgo biloba supplement is an extract standardized to 24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones. It is best taken with food to improve absorption. For herbal dosage, check the supplement facts.
Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects
The best ginkgo biloba supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated. However, some people may experience side effects such as changes in blood pressure, drowsiness, nausea etc.
St. John’s Wort
What is St. John’s Wort?
Hypericum perforatum, commonly referred to as St. John’s Wort, is a herb native to Europe and parts of Asia and Africa.
Benefits of St. John’s Wort
This herb can be used to help some types of depression (The evidence is not definitive, however). The herb has been used for literally thousands of years, dating back to ancient Greek medicine – and it remains a popular home remedy today.
St. John’s Wort Side Effects
It’s also good to note that St. John’s Wort can interact with some medications, so speak with your doctor if you are taking any prescription medications.
What is Saw Palmetto?
Saw Palmetto is a small palm-like tree that is native to the southeastern region of the United States, and was used medicinally by native Americans. The tree grows berries with medicinal properties. It is most notable as a good herbal supplement for prostate health. The berries are commonly used as herbal supplements in the forms of extracts, teas, tablets, capsules etc.
Benefits of Saw Palmetto
Saw palmetto is a good herbal supplement for men because it helps to support prostate health and can help with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a common condition that results in prostate enlargement. It also helps to support the urinary system.
How to Take Saw Palmetto
The best saw palmetto supplements are generally taken in split doses throughout the day, however this can vary. For dosage instructions, check the supplement label. Saw palmetto supplements may be taken with or without food.
Saw Palmetto Side Effects
Saw palmetto is generally well-tolerated, and potential side effects are mild. These include nausea, constipation, dizziness etc.