Why Take Herbal Supplements?
Herbal medicine has been used as a means to treat disease and maintain health for thousands of years. Today, herbal medicine has taken form into what we now know as herbal supplements, and its prevalence is still at an all time high. An estimated 4 billion people (representing 80% of the world’s population) in developing countries rely on herbal remedies as their primary source of healthcare. Similarly, herbal supplements are becoming widely embraced in many developed countries and they are gaining steady recognition throughout the medical community for their potential to work alongside conventional practices. Even though herbal medicine has been around for as long as mankind, some people are still fairly new to the herbal supplement world and there are many questions floating around. In this blog, we will answering three major questions: Why take them?; are herbal supplements safe?; and, when to take herbal supplements?
Why Take Herbal Supplements?
Herbal supplements are affordable, effective, extremely versatile, and readily available. Not to mention, a handful of herbs are making a name for themselves in the medical community and are playing a large role in integrative medicine, an approach to medical care that combines conventional and complementary practices. For example, turkey tail mushrooms are widely used by physicians throughout Asia as a complementary treatment alongside chemotherapy and, in Japan, PSK—a main constituent found in turkey tail—is an approved adjuvant cancer treatment. Many other herbs, such as echinacea, ginseng, ginkgo, elderberry, St. John’s wort, and turmeric, are also used as complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) to aid in the treatment as well as lessen side effects of a wide array of ailments.
You may be asking yourself, “But, why take supplements if I’m not sick or don’t have a serious illness?” Surprising or not, herbal supplements are also widely used among the general population to treat less serious or critical conditions as well as increase the quality of life. From promoting sleep, cognitive function and energy to reducing stress, there is quite literally an endless amount of reasons why people are taking herbal supplements.
When to Take Herbal Supplements
Herbal supplements can be taken at almost any time, depending on what you’re looking for. We know one lovely man who takes a handful of reishi mushrooms every day during spring to combat a severe case of hay fever. On the same hand, we know people who take a sleep remedy every night before bedtime and people who take a nootropic supplement every morning to kickstart their brainpower for optimal focus and clarity. On the other side of the spectrum, you may wish to take an immune support supplement only when you feel like you are coming down with a cold or stress relief remedy when life starts throwing you stressors. In short, many people take herbal supplements for varying reasons and there is really no right or wrong time to take herbal supplements (except if you are taking a sleep supplement in the morning, which we do not recommend).
Something that is not as commonly talked about is how regularly should supplement be taken? Well, that depends if you are taking a supplement for severe health reasons to keep you alive and healthy, obviously you should not stop taking this. However, most often with supplements they are actually most effective when we cycle on and off of them. Taking a small break from supplements periodically can allow your body to adapt and you can even see more benefits.
Are Herbal Supplements Safe?
One of the most frequently asked questions we get from talking to people is, “Are herbal supplements safe to take if x, y and z?” And the answer really depends. In most cases, herbal supplements are generally safe, but—as with everything—there are some exceptions. These exceptions include those who are pregnant or breastfeeding as well as those taking any prescribed medications. If you fall into either of these categories, you may wish to do some research or consult with your doctor before adding a new herbal remedy to your routine.
While some herbal supplements are safe to take during pregnancy—including raspberry leaf, fennel, peppermint, anise, valerian and ginger, to name a few—there are some herbs that may have adverse side effects.
Complete and comprehensive list of herbs to avoid during pregnancy.
Similarly, those taking prescribed medications should also be cautious of some herbs, as they may interact with prescribed medications.
Common herbal dietary supplements and drug interactions.
Herbal medicine has been around for a long time, and for good reasons. Not only are herbal supplements extremely versatile and can be used for all sorts of ailments ranging from chronic diseases to mild conditions, but they can also be taken anytime, anywhere and are considered generally safe for most people to take. Now that you are familiar with herbal supplements and why they may be beneficial to your well-being, it’s also important to understand which extraction processes are superior at maintaining the efficacy of the herbs compounds when making an herbal supplement—and we believe that spagyrics is the best of the best. Learn more about what is a spagyric herbal supplement and why it’s unrivaled.
Asher, Gary N., et al. “Common herbal dietary supplement–Drug interactions.” American Family Physician, American Academy of Family Physicians, 15 July 2017, https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2017/0715/p101.html.
“Complementary, alternative, or integrative health: What’s in a name?” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Apr. 2021, https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/complementary-alternative-or-integrative-health-whats-in-a-name.
Ekor, Martins. “The growing use of herbal medicines: Issues relating to adverse reactions and challenges in monitoring safety.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 4 177. 10 Jan. 2014, doi:10.3389/fphar.2013.00177
“Herbs and supplements to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding.” Herbal Safety, Winchester Hospital, 2022, https://www.winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=35536.