Chemist and supermarket shelves are packed with supplements produced by big pharma, and while some of them — like B12 and Folic Acid — have been proven to be effective, the benefits of others are not so certain. Some common supplements have even been flagged as potentially harmful.
So if you’re looking for supplements to support your overall health and boost your wellbeing in certain areas (such as immunity or focus), how do you know the ones you choose will be beneficial?
The answer, for us, lies in herbs and plants. Plants that support health naturally, without synthetic chemicals, have been used around the world for centuries. They draw on the wisdom of nature and knowledge passed down through generations to complement healthy lifestyles.
In this herbal supplement guide, we're going to explore several questions, including:
- What's the difference between herbal supplements and conventional supplements?
- What are herbal supplements for?
- Are there alternatives to herbal capsules?
- How quickly will I feel the benefits?
What’s the difference between conventional supplements and herbal supplements?
Conventional dietary supplements — the ones you’ll usually find on supermarket shelves — contain vitamins and minerals, some of which are naturally sourced, and some of which are synthesised in a laboratory.
Herbal supplements, on the other hand, are sometimes called botanicals; they’re derived from plants. High-quality herbal supplements don’t contain non-naturally occurring ingredients at all. Unlike conventional supplements, their plant compounds generally consist of several active ingredients. They use the complete properties of the plant rather than isolating one vitamin, mineral or compound.
Studies suggest that naturally occurring nutrients like this are easier for the body to absorb, as the compounds in a plant work together in the body and increase the bioavailability of essential vitamins and minerals.
What do supplements actually do? And how do I choose the right ones?
The first thing to remember about any kind of supplement is that they are exactly that: supplements. They’re not meant to replace any of the nutrients you need to get from your diet, but to give you an easy-to-digest boost of nutrients that are hard to absorb enough of from your diet alone.
Different herbal supplements have different uses. You can select the ones that will work for you by thinking about the things you struggle with day-to-day. (Even better: book in a Natural Health Consultation with one of our medical herbalists to benefit from warm, professional advice and a tailored-to-you herbal prescription.)
Let's take a look at some examples...
If you find that you get ill often, pick up coughs and colds when you spend time in close proximity with other people; or that you feel generally run down, then our Defend Capsules may provide the additional micro-nutrients you need. Made with a blend of herbs including Andrographis, Echinacea Root, and Tulsi, they’re formulated to support the immune system with natural antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
If you struggle to focus or stay on-task, or feel a bit fuzzy when you’re trying to concentrate, you might benefit from herbal compounds that increase blood flow to the brain and support your nervous system when you’re working late and under stress. Our caffeine-free Focus Capsules are blended with Ginkgo Biloba Leaf, Gotu Kola and Brahmi to do just that.
If you ever feel overwhelmed and anxious, or if you find it difficult to get to sleep or to stay asleep, Ashwagandha Supplements could be combined with some simple lifestyle changes and calming practices (we recommend Yoga Nidra) to help you turn things around.
Ashwagandha is an incredible herb, known to reduce general stress and stop panic attacks in their tracks. It can also boost your energy during the day while supporting deep, good quality sleep.
No supplement will change your life if it’s the only thing you do to take care of yourself. But included as part of a nourishing diet that adapts with the seasons and with your changing body, herbal supplements can contribute to holistic wellbeing.
Herbal Supplements: When will I feel the benefits?
The answer to this question totally depends on the type of supplement you've chosen and its active ingredients.
Some of the products in our range aim to support your health and wellbeing over the long term, by increasing the levels of certain nutrients into your system. A good example of this approach would be our Defend Supplements, which are high in Vitamin C and ingredients such as Tusli, Andrographis and Echinacea - which contain natural antimicrobial properties to help prevent colds and flus from developing.
Other herbal supplements in our range have been developed to make an immediate impact. The natural sedatives in our Deep Sleep Supplements are great examples. Ashwagandha, Passionflower, Valerian, and Chamomile work quickly to soothe stress, ease tension, and promote a restful night's sleep.
Do I have to take herbs in capsule form?
We know that not everyone feels comfortable swallowing tablets or capsules. You can open any of our capsule supplements and drop the powder into a smoothie or a bowl of porridge; the capsules are for convenience, but the contents will be just as effective without the casing.
Alternatively, we also offer a range of supplements in the form of blended powders, to be added to food or mixed into drinks. You can also try tinctures (liquid herbal extracts), which can also be added to water or taken with a teaspoon.
Try our Breathe Tincture for respiratory health or our Recovery Tincture for an intensive immune system recharge. Or choose our Rise and Shine Mix to get your day off to an invigorating start with support from powerhouse herbs and plants including Turmeric, Ginger, Cinnamon, Siberian ginseng and Matcha.
Storing and taking herbal capsules
Across our herbal supplement range, we recommend taking two capsules daily or as recommended by your healthcare advisor. The exact timing may depend on the product. You should take products in our Energy and Focus ranges first thing in the morning, while supplements aimed at improving your sleep should be taken before bed.
As with any supplement, you don't want to exceed the recommended amount or use this product as a substitute for a varied diet. Many of our natural supplements contain ingredients that are best avoided if you're pregnant or already on some form of medication - please consult us first if this is the case.
The rest of the directions we'd suggest are pretty simple. Keep your supplements out of reach of children and store them in a cool and dry place.
Want to find out more about herbal supplements?
It’s important to note that not all herbs work for everyone, and if you have any health concerns we always recommend discussing them with a medical herbalist before you add supplements to your diet. Herbs are powerful — it’s why we love them, but it’s also why they need to be taken with care, and backed by expert knowledge.
We’re always happy to chat with customers about our products. If you have any questions, comment down below.
If herbs and herbal supplements have worked for you, we’d love to hear about it!