Help to find the best herbal supplement is here. Scientists are only beginning to understand the tremendous potential of herbal supplements for therapeutic purposes, but all botanicals are not created equal. Not to mention that they’re also largely unregulated due to their FDA categorization as dietary supplements.
All of which begs the question: With so many different products and brands from which to choose and so much uncertainty regarding everything from safety to effectiveness, how do you know which is the best herbal for your needs? Read on to learn more about best practices for making the most informed decisions when choosing herbal supplements.
There are thousands, if not millions, of herbal supplements currently available on the market, and they’re anything but one-size-fits-all. In fact, the assumption that there’s one single best herbal for everyone is a misguided one. Rather, it’s important to develop an herbal supplement regimen based on your own health and wellness goals.
For example, while coleus forskohlii root extract offers serious fat-burning potential if your goal is to trim down, energy boosting guarana seed extract (AKA Paullinia cupana) makes more sense if you’re looking for more energy during your next workout. The list of botanicals and their therapeutic potential goes on and on, including other popular picks like creatine for increasing power output; ashwagandha for immune strength; Rhodiola rosea (AKA “golden root”) for athletic performance; and echinacea for endurance. The takeaway? Finding the right herbal supplement goes hand-in-hand with finding the best one.
Understanding the potential health benefits of herbal supplements is just the first step. Also, a critical part of the process of finding the best herbal supplement? Assessing safety risks, reviewing proper dosages, and determining how, when and for how long to take a specific product. In fact, proactively asking and answering these questions can also be a vital safety measure. Why? Because as with drugs, herbal supplements can lead to complications if not properly taken.
One last thing to keep in mind when doing your research? Use only reputable sources. Today's marketers are incredibly crafty; It’s easy to fall victim to their grandiose claims. Avoid doing so by disregarding big, impossible-sounding promises and instead relying on objective sources, such as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements.
Just because an herbal supplement is labeled as “natural” doesn’t automatically mean it’s safe. Nor does it mean it’s effective: After all, without the FDA drug regulation process and with no standardization processes, savvy manufacturers can bottle and sell just about anything.
This doesn’t mean you’re completely without resources when it comes to knowing whether an herbal supplement fulfills quality standards. Organizations like Consumer Lab, United States Pharmacopeia (USP), and NSF International conduct rigorous independent testing across key measures like manufacturing processes, ingredients, and contaminant levels. Because of this, the Council for Responsible Nutrition suggests that consumers seek out herbal supplements, which have received third-party certification or a seal of approval from any of these groups. How do you know if a particular product qualifies? Manufacturers make it easy by printing “Consumer Lab,” “NSF,” or “USP” on their labels.
Ultimately, many dietary botanicals have powerful potential, but only if used correctly. Wondering where to get started on your own journey to finding the best herbal supplement for your individual needs? Check out the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s comprehensive list of herbal remedies. And remember: The more you know about what you put into your body, the more you’ll minimize risk while maximizing results.
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