Herbal Dietary Supplements, Bases and Forms

Herbal supplements are non-pharmaceutical dietary supplements that contain extracts of herbs, plants, fungus shrubs or trees. They are used mainly for their flavor, scent or therapeutic properties, either singly or in a mixture. Herbs have long been used to affect cures and bring about various health benefits, and herbal supplements are often found in the practice of Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy and naturopathy.

Plants Used For Making Herbal Dietary Supplements

The list of herbs is very long. Here to name a few: Aloe Vera Bilberry Black Cohosh Cat’s Claw Chasteberry Cranberry Dandelion Echinacea Ephedra Evening Primrose Oil Feverfew Flaxseed/Flaxseed Oil Garlic Ginger Ginkgo Ginseng (Asian) Goldenseal Green Tea Hawthorn Horse Chestnut Kava Licorice Root Milk Thistle Mistletoe Red Clover Saw Palmetto St. John’s Wort Valerian

Forms of Herbal Dietary Supplements

While it is possible for a person to buy whole herbs and make up their own formulas, it isn’t recommended, unless they happen to be extremely knowledgeable about what they’re doing. Most people get their supplements in the form of tablets, capsules, tinctures, teas, infusions, decoctions, essential oils, gels, oils and creams.Tablets and capsules use either the whole herb or an extract containing a high concentration of the herb’s active components. Their advantage is that they allow the user to avoid the often bitter taste of the herb.

Tinctures are concentrated liquids made by soaking the herb in water and alcohol. The alcohol extracts and concentrates the herb’s active components. In many cases, it’s removed once the process has finished. Tinctures are taken in small doses several times a day, usually diluted in water or juice. Teas and infusions are less concentrated than tinctures and are usually brewed from the fresh or dried flowers, leaves or roots of a herb. They are often sold as tea bags, but can be bought loose. They are best consumed once brewed, as they start to lose their potency with prolonged exposure to air.

Decoctions are made by simmering the tougher parts of a herb, such as the roots, stem, bark or seeds, for about thirty minutes. As with teas and infusions, decoctions should be consumed within a short time after brewing.Essential Oils are extracted from herbs through a process of distillation to form potent concentrations for use in massage on particular parts of the body. They should never be ingested.

Gels and ointments are produced from the fats or oils of aromatic herbs and are used on the skin to provide relief from rashes, bruises and wounds.Creams are usually light oil-and-water mixtures, again applied to the skin, where they are partially absorbed, allowing the skin to breathe while retaining its moisture.

Precautionary Note on Consumption of Herbal Dietary supplements

Herbal supplements are used by millions of people every single day. While there is controversy over their benefits, users swear by them and their effectiveness. However, many professional health careers doubt their efficacy and safety, pointing to the fact that they are not subjected to the same rigorous tests as prescription medicines.

Anyone considering herbal supplements should first consult a doctor or other relevant medical expert. Just because a supplement claims to be natural, doesn’t mean it is safe or even relevant to the condition that needs treatment. Herbal supplements can act in the same way as drugs. They have an effect on the body, and if taken incorrectly, can cause adverse side- effects. Furthermore, herbal supplements should only be acquired from reputable sources and companies that can prove they adhere to current GMP standards and are FDA registered.