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Herbal Supplements and Their Benefits for General Health

Using herbal supplements to improve overall health is very popular. In fact, according to Pharmacy Times, a full 75% of the world’s population have used or are currently using an herbal supplement. Clearly, this is a popular way to get specific benefits or to improve health overall, but there are something’s you should be aware of. It starts with understanding what supplementation is all about.

What Is a Supplement?
Supplements are neither food nor medicine. These aren’t things you add to your diet to get specific benefits in the same fashion that you might, for example, starting eating more leafy green vegetables to get vitamins and minerals. Supplements are usually taken in pill form or as an extract; some are taken as teas.

Supplements are sometimes used to improve specific aspects of overall health. For instance, St. John’s wort is a popular supplement that’s taken by people who suffer from minor depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This isn’t the same as taking a pharmaceutical, however. For instance, if you go to a mental health professional with depression, they may prescribe an anti-depressant at a certain dosage to help alleviate the symptoms. Supplements are usually taken according to traditional guidelines or based on what the person using those feels gives them the most benefit. This is something you would never do with a pharmaceutical, of course.

Supplements are sometimes used to complement medical therapies. It’s imperative that you tell your physician if you’re taking or plan on taking herbal supplements, as some of them will interact with certain pharmaceutical drugs or exacerbate certain conditions.

Choosing Supplements
There are many different ways that you can figure out whether a given supplement might be a good choice for you. Some people rely on traditions like Chinese medicine to find supplements that might give them the results that they want. Others may rely on more current research.

If you want the most current research, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is a good resource. The information is reputable and can help guide you to making good decisions for your health.

Most of all, remember that supplementation is just that. Supplements that have high anti-oxidant contents, for example, work best when you adhere to a sensible diet and exercise regime, as well. These supplements are designed to enhance the benefits that you get from a healthy lifestyle and, as was mentioned, are very popular around the world for that purpose.

http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2012/March2012/-Using-Herbal-Supplements-Safely
http://nccam.nih.gov/health/stjohnswort/ataglance.htm
http://nccam.nih.gov/health/supplements/wiseuse.htm

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