Common Herbal Supplements – Uses and Tips

For nearly 3000 years oriental cultures have harnessed the natural power of the earth to live healthier, happier, and more youthful lives. Today, there is a reemergence in the use of herbal supplements among American consumers. Many people are looking for new ways to improve their health, and they are often turning to natural remedies rather than pharmaceutical drugs.

A Few Common Herbal Supplements and Uses:

St. John’s Wort – Wild-growing with yellow flowers, this herb has been used for centuries in the treatment of mental disorders. Today, it is popular for mild to moderate depression.

Saw Palmetto – Saw palmetto may be helpful in the treatment of an enlarged prostate, a common condition in men over age 50.

Hawthorn – Popularly used for several heart-related conditions and is supportive in the treatment of angina, atherosclerosis, congestive heart failure, and high blood pressure.

Green tea – This herb is used to combat fatigue, prevent arteriosclerosis and certain cancers, lower cholesterol, reduce tooth decay, and aid in weight loss.

Goldenseal – This herb, native to America, is popular for its healing properties and antiseptic, or germ-stopping, qualities. Often used for colds and flu, it is also popular for soothing the nose lining when it is inflamed or sore.

Ginseng – Used as a general tonic to increase overall body tone, ginseng is considered helpful in elevating energy levels and resistance to stress.

Gingko Biloba – This herb is used for many conditions associated with aging, including poor circulation and memory loss.

Black Cohosh – This shrub-like plant of eastern North America derives its name from the Native American word for “rough” (referring to its root structure). It is generally used for alleviating menopausal conditions, painful menstruation, uterine spasms, and vaginitis.

Echinacea – Often used to strengthen the body’s immune system, echinacea is also considered prevention against colds and flu. This US native plant is also called the purple coneflower.

Evening Primrose – Oil from this night-blooming, bright yellow flowering plant may be helpful in reducing symptoms of arthritis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and cardiovascular disease, as well as hyperactivity in children.

Feverfew – The pain-relieving properties of feverfew have been used for migraine headaches, as well as for menstrual cramps.

Garlic – generally used for cardiovascular conditions, including high cholesterol and triglyceride levels associated with the risk of atherosclerosis, a disorder of the arteries caused by cholesterol and plaque deposits in the artery walls. It is also helpful in preventing colds, flu, and other infectious diseases.

Herbal supplements come in all forms: dried, chopped, powdered, capsule, or liquid, and can be used in various ways, including:

  • Swallowed as pills
  • Brewed as tea
  • Applied to the skin as gels
  • Added to bath water

Before Taking Herbal Supplements:

  • Educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about the herbs you are taking by consulting your physician and contacting herbal supplement manufacturers for information.
  • Follow the label instructions carefully and only use the prescribed dosage. Never exceed the recommended dosage, and seek out information about contraindications.
  • Watch for side effects, such as nausea, dizziness, headache, or upset stomach. If such symptoms occur, reduce the dosage or stop taking the herbal supplement.
  • Be alert for allergic reactions. A severe allergic reaction can cause difficulty breathing. If such a problem occurs, call 911 or the emergency number in your area for help.
  • Research the company whose herbs you are taking. All herbal supplements are not created equal, and it is best to choose a reputable manufacturer’s brand.

Currently, the FDA does not regulate herbal supplements, it is best to consult with your physician or a certified herbalist before starting an herbal regiment.