4 Best Ways to Take Herbal Supplements

4 Best Ways to Take Herbal Supplements

For many, herbal supplements are a way of life. Western medicine is beginning to embrace supplements as complementary support to conventional medicine. More people are discovering the power of herbs and botanical solutions every day to sustain and improve their overall health.

But if you’re new to taking herbal supplements, you may be seeking information about the best ways to take them. You’ll probably have questions about when to take them and whether you should do that with or without food. All these questions and more will be answered in this article! Let’s learn more about herbal supplements, how to take them, why people take them, and how they can help support your ongoing health.

The Rise of Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements, while they’ve been around for thousands of years in various forms, are only now beginning to enter the public consciousness and, as a result, the marketplace. Part of the reason for this renaissance in the West is a public desire to take control of personal wellness. Patients have become dissatisfied with the litany of pharmaceutical prescriptions that characterizes the Western approach to healing our bodies. They want to help themselves, possibly preventing major illnesses as they age.

Today, doctors are far more willing to take supplements seriously. And the properties of various supplements are being closely studied. CBD from hemp flower has led this charge, opening doors for a range of other supplements being used as complementary therapies by conventional doctors. 

What Supplements Do

The phrase “herbal supplements” encompasses a wide range of natural wellness products, from CBD to kratom. People taking them are seeking help with overall health, specific conditions like heart or other organ challenges, diabetes, skin conditions, pain, anxiety, mental focus, productivity, and even sexual performance. Herbal supplements offer a wide range of health benefits and support for the conventional approaches of Western medicine.

The World Health Organization notes that 88% of the world’s nations report widespread use of herbal supplements. And did you know that 40% of pharmaceuticals are rooted in the ancient wisdom of herbal medicine? Even aspirin started out that way!

People seeking a highly personal way of maintaining and improving their wellness are turning to herbal supplements. Many take these supplements for conditions with mild or moderate symptoms or to get the therapeutic ball rolling before conventional medical treatment begins. By doing so, many are finding a natural ally for better sleep, increased energy and focus, improved mood, and weight loss. 

Herbal supplements are nature’s solution. When taken under the direction of your doctor as part of a healthy life that includes a focus on nutrition and regular exercise, they’re your natural allies!

Before You Supplement

The word natural is not always synonymous with “innocuous”. In fact, adding supplements to your wellness regime can present the risk of poor interaction between supplements and the pharmaceuticals you’re already taking. It is crucial, for this reason, that you share your plans to take herbal supplements with your primary caregiver.

Your doctor can advise you on possible interactions with the drugs you’ve been prescribed. Much depends on the supplement or supplements you’re planning to add to your health regimen. Your doctor has important information that will assure your supplements journey is a safe, successful one. And once you’ve got the all-clear, here are the 4 best ways to take herbal supplements:

Orally

Many people take herbal supplements orally. But there are also tinctures, powders, gummies (and other edible products), and oils available for oral consumption. Many prefer oral consumption for its ease and convenience.

Orally – Tea

Drinking supplements as a tea is the preferred delivery method for many. The hot tea is comforting as well as therapeutic, delivering the benefit of the herbal supplement directly to the intestinal tract.

Topically

Creams, lotions, and gels are enjoyed by many who use herbal supplements, with the skin absorbing the benefits of the supplement. This is a popular delivery method for those who don’t enjoy oral consumption.

Topically – in Bathwater

Herbal supplements can be added to bathwater as a topical application. Depending on the supplement in question, the benefit can also be delivered via breathing the steam from the bathwater.

However you choose to take herbal supplements – and you may choose more than one method – be aware that the quality of herbal supplements can vary. Always seek out a reputable, reliable vendor who clearly states where the herb is grown, how it’s processed, and what percentage of the herb is present in the product. Know your product and the quality of the herbs used to make it.

Dosages

Your primary caregiver is crucial to your healthcare plan but it’s often the case that a doctor of conventional Western medicine isn’t familiar with dosages for herbal supplements. So, before you go, consult with an alternative healthcare provider who delivers services like homeopathy or acupuncture. Many chiropractors are actively supportive of complementary medicines and practices like herbal supplements which makes them another possible resource.

Find a practitioner with good patient reviews with respect to herbal supplements and their dosages. Then, arm yourself with that information before visiting your primary caregiver to talk about possible drug interactions.

Dosages for herbal supplements are largely a work in progress due to their emergent status. A practitioner who’s experienced with them will be able to help you find a dosage that’s safe and effective.

Food Matters

Food is an important factor in getting optimal performance from your supplement regime. Don’t neglect fats in your diet. The fat in food has a purpose and you need it if you’re taking supplements (orally especially) as it provokes the secretion of stomach acids. Those acids allow your supplements to be thoroughly absorbed.

You’ll need that healthy fat when you take supplements like:

Fish oil

  • Flax oil
  • Alpha lipoic acid
  • Plant-based stanols and sterols (to lower cholesterol)
  • Cetyl myristoleate (to reduce pain in joints)

The following oral supplements should be taken either 2 hours after eating or 30 minutes before you eat:

Amino Acids

  • Lysine (for herpes simplex treatment)
  • Tryptophan (to improve sleep)
  • Branched-chain amino acids (bodybuilding/muscle development)

The proteins in your diet contain amino acids, which your body naturally breaks down as they’re digested. If you take amino acids with food, they’re competing with the proteins you’re eating for absorption.

Herbal Supplements

If you consume bitter herbs for digestion, consume these 15 minutes before you eat. But any herbal supplement you’re consuming should be taken after a bowel movement and as far away from meal time as possible. Before bed is the ideal time, as you won’t be eating and the fiber in your food won’t be undermining your supplement regime. The general rule of thumb around food and supplements then, is:

Vitamins and minerals: take with food

Herbal supplements: following a bowel movement or before bed.

Supplements of all kinds are improving people’s quality of life worldwide. As the medical profession begins to take serious notice of herbal supplements and their power to change lives, I hope to see incredible change in the way healthcare is delivered to people who need it.

For now, I hope the advice in this post has provided a good foundation for starting your journey with herbal supplements. Here’s to your robust health!

 

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