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      What are Herbal Supplements?

      Chamomile. Siberian Ginseng. Echinacea. The mere names of herbal supplements sound exotic and alluring. Otherwise known as botanicals, herbs—which can be found in both foods and supplements—differ from vitamins and minerals in that they can be used for health-supporting purposes, and generally support a particular area of health such as bones or the liver. The value herbal dietary supplements offer, coupled with a collective interest in turning away from synthetic products, has led to a surge in their popularity.

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      Are Herbal Supplements Safe?

      For ages, natural herbs have helped our health, and modern-day studies later proved as much. But just because something is natural doesn’t mean it can’t cause complications. Some herbal supplements may interact with other medications, rendering what is prescribed ineffective—even harmful. Others contain potentially toxic properties. Others still possess ingredients that are contraindicated in certain conditions.

      Save yourself the frustration—and a possibly hazardous reaction—by following these top five tips for using herbal remedies safely:

      1. Do your homework: Research wisely, gaining enough knowledge to understand the supplement’s potential benefits and its potential risks and side effects (an herbal glossary like this is a good place to start). Or consult with a trained herbalist or naturopathic physician, both of whom can steer you in the right direction.
      2. Check for a seal of approval: Different brands offer different ingredients and concentrations. Once you know which natural herbs might be right for you, inspect their labels. Check to make sure the herbal supplement is standardized. Also, look at the label to ensure that the supplement meets the FDA’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP), which certifies that manufacturing processes are up to present standards and substantiates the product’s strength, quality, purity and identity while also screening for contaminants, deviations, mix-ups and other errors.
      3. Take your condition into account: Pregnant or nursing? Get the low down on how herbal supplements might impact your child. Have a heart condition, or allergies? The same precautions apply as any other medicine. The more you know you know about herbal supplements and their impact on the body, the better equipped you’ll be to safeguard your well-being.
      4. Understand how the herb may interact with other medications: St. John’s Wort has long been used to naturally support a healthier mental state. But studies have shown that St. John’s Wort may have adverse consequences when mixed with other medications. That is to say, herbal supplements are comprised of powerful components that, when mixed with other medications (as well as certain foods and alcohol), may interfere with the ways in which other chemicals are processed—intensifying the side effects of some meds while weakening the therapeutic benefits of others. Consult with your pharmacist or physician first, and heed their directions.
      5. Know the source: Given that the authenticity of your herbal supplements is vital to both its safety and efficacy, it’s imperative to know where your supplement was sourced. Is the manufacturer reputable? Does the herbal supplement come from the US? In what type of environment was it cultivated and processed? How and when? Getting to the bottom of your herbal supplements will get you farther away from potential dangers and fraudulent claims—and closer to optimal health. Which, let’s face it, is where you were meant to be all along.

      Top Herbal Supplement Brands at Vitacost

      Your body deserves the best. That’s why we source top tier vitamin and supplement brands at Vitacost. From B corp supplements, such as MegaFood and New Chapter to herbal formulas, including Gaia Herbs, our selection is specially curated with your health in mind.

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