Herbal supplements, also known as “botanicals,” are dietary supplements made from parts of natural whole plants, whereas non-herbal homeopathic medicine uses various amounts of natural substances taken from any combination of botanical, animal, or mineral sources. Herbal medicine can be used to promote general health or as an herbal remedy to treat certain conditions.
Benefits of Herbal Supplements
Natural supplements can be used safely as herbal remedies for both men and women. Generally, anyone can enjoy these natural health benefits:
- Try soothing chamomile teas for relieving anxiety, cramps, and muscle pains;
- Try Echinacea, an organic immune stimulant, to help fight colds, flus, and viruses;
- Try ginkgo biloba (or “ginkgo”) capsules to improve blood flow to the brain and mental sharpness, including memory and cognition;
- Try ginseng, a root that has been used by the Chinese for thousands of years; the traditional red ginseng root has “heating properties” to increase energy and stamina while the North American Ginseng has “cooling properties” to help women control hormonal balance;
- Check out our Blog post on beating the winter blues with St. John’s Wort, an extract that can help ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) by adjusting the body’s serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin levels.
Like any other dietary supplement, you should take care to consult your health care provider before starting to take herbal supplements. If you fall into any of the following categories, there may be specific herbal products for you:
- you are currently taking prescription drugs or over-the-counter medication;
- you have recently, or will in the near future, undergo surgery;
- you are younger than 18 or older than 65 years of age.
History of Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicines can be effective because plants are able to synthesize a wide variety of chemical compounds that are required to perform important biological functions; in fact, they are used as key ingredients in many medications and pharmaceutical products, and are sometimes preferred over non-herbal options because they can be more natural and gentle for the body.
The use of natural herbs and plants for their medicinal properties has been common among several ethnicities and eras. For thousands of years, herbalism (the study of medicinal and therapeutic use of plants, especially as alternative medication) has been explored and documented by the health practitioners of Ancient Egypt, India, China, Greece, and Rome. Early documentation reveals their use of plants such as garlic, green tea, mushrooms, various seeds, flowers, roots, and many other types of herbs. During the Middle Ages, European and English monasteries also began to study and copy the Greco-Roman and Arabic works, becoming local centers of medical knowledge – many monasteries even had gardens for growing medicinal herbs.