Herbal Supplements

Natural Herbs

Herbs For Health

herbal supplementsAs we all know, dietary supplement use can affect current health status, efficacy of medications, and health outcomes, which makes it imperative for health professionals like RDs to have an intimate knowledge of dietary supplements and of the people using them. The quality of dietary supplements (which includes herbal supplements) is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which means that consumers may be consuming more or less of the desired product. In a recent review of published, randomized controlled trials of herbal supplements, only two of the 81 trials published the actual quantity and content of the herbal supplements. This is concerning because the herbs may be administered at a higher, more dangerous dose (1). With the lack of standardization and monitoring of herbal supplements, we must be aware of the risks and benefits of taking herbal supplements and be able to communicate this to our patients. So, how do you know who is taking these dietary supplements, which supplements are being taken, and why the supplements are being taken?

In the 2002 Health and Diet Survey, English-speaking households with adults over the age of 18 were surveyed (2). The survey found that 73% of the adults used any kind of supplement, with 42% of all users reporting use of any kind of herb, botanical or other various dietary supplements (excluding vitamins and minerals). This survey also discovered that older age groups had higher herbal use, as well as higher use among women. The most commonly reported herbs used included echinacea, garlic, gingko, ginseng, and glucosamine. With the increasing availability and popularity of herbal supplements, it is becoming evident that the aging population is also starting to use alternative therapies like herbs (3). A survey of older adults not residing in nursing homes found that 19% of adults over the age of 52 surveyed reported using herbal supplements, with women and Caucasians being more likely to use herbs when compared to their counterparts.

Herbal use is not limited to older women; in a study done on Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participants, nearly half of the surveys (47.7%) indicated herbal use by caregivers, children under the age of five, or both (4). Also, herb use was greater among Latino children as compared to non-Latino children. The ten most commonly used herbs among WIC participants include the following: aloe vera, chamomile, garlic, peppermint, lavender, cranberry, ginger, Echinacea, lemon grass, and tea tree. Herbal use is becoming increasingly prevalent among the younger generations, especially in college students. A southeastern university found that 79% of students surveyed reported having used at least one herbal substance in the past 12 months (5). The most frequently used substances were green tea, ginseng, chamomile, ginger, and Echinacea. With such high numbers of people of all ages using herbal supplements, you can see how important it is for Registered Dietitians to have basic knowledge of commonly used herbal supplements.

Dietitians may use herbal supplements themselves, but may be uncomfortable with educating patients about their use or recommending herbs to patients. When surveyed about knowledge of herbal supplements, 73% of Registered Dietitians in Massachusetts perceived themselves as having little or nor knowledge of herbal supplements (6). Also, 37% of the RDs reported using herbs themselves, and only 23% of the surveyed RDs reported recommending herbal supplements to their clients in the past year. It can be concluded from these percentages that dietitians in general may need more education and reinforcement regarding herbal supplement use.

With the majority of RDs having a lack of confidence and perceived competence in this area, it would be beneficial to have a quick review of the commonly used herbs (as found in the published articles used in this paper) and their proposed uses. The herb usage information is from the National Institute of Health (7). This is basic information about common usage, and is not substantiated or proven by scientific evidence.


Herbs are used in many different ways to treat various ailments; the source of the herb and the reason for administration should be obtained in the nutrition assessment. Just remember when assessing and evaluating your clients that herbal use is common among all populations and may be important in evaluating health outcomes and risks. Know your population and get to know their supplements!


Northwest Natural Products Detox7 Herbal Supplement

detox7A natural 7-day detoxification program promoting internal body cleansing and healthy elmination of toxins that will keep you feeling revitalized, energized and detoxified.*

30 Detox 7™ Capsules
7 Detox 7™ Fiber Packets

Suitable for anyone enjoying a low-carb lifestyle.*

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 4 Capsules
Servings Per Container: Approximately 8
  Amount Per Serving % Daily Value
Total Carbohydrate 2 g <1%^
   Dietary Fiber <1 g 3%^
Proprietary Blend:                  1800 mg                         **
Gingko Bilboa leaf 50:1 extract, Garlic bulb, Milk Thistle seed extract standardized to 80% silymarins, Echinacea Angusifolia herb 6:1 extract, Cat's Claw bark, Uva Ursi leaf, Alfalfa leaf, Hawthorne berry, Licorice root, Ginger root, Rosemary leaf, Oregon Grape root, Turmeric root, Dandelion leaf, Burdock root, Yellow Dock root, Mullein seed, Fenugreek seed, Horsetail herb, Safflower flower, Butcher's Broom root, Red Root root, Capsicum fruit, Schizandra fruit, Red Clover herb
^Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
**Daily Value not established.
Other ingredients: Gelatin (capsule) and magnesium stearate.

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 Packet
Servings Per Container: 7
  Amount Per Serving % Daily Value
Total Carbohydrate 3 g <1%^
   Dietary Fiber 2 g 8%^
Sodium 5 mg <1%
Proprietary Blend:                  3.5 g                              **
Psyllium Husks, Inulin, Probiotics (Maltodextrin, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus bulgaricus), Marshmallow root, Barley Grass, Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheat grass, Papain, N-acetyl-l-cysteine, Slippery Elm bark, Echinacea Angustifolia root, Shepherd's Purse herb, Wild Yam root, Kep powder (Fucus versiculosus), Prune powder (Prunus domestica), Grape Seed extract standardized to 95% proanthocyanidins.
^Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
**Daily Value not established.
Other ingredients: Silica.



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