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Natural healing: What you need to know about herbal supplements

Natural healing: What you need to know about herbal supplements
Natural healing: What you need to know about herbal supplements
People have used herbs for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. There are herbal supplements to battle a variety of ailments, from fighting colds to improving memory to lowering cholesterol. Herbal supplements, also called botanicals, are made from plants. Though they are natural, some herbal supplements can be strong and may have some risks, so be sure to talk to your physician about any herbal supplements before you begin taking them.

People have used herbs for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. There are herbal supplements to battle a variety of ailments, from fighting colds to improving memory to lowering cholesterol.

Herbal supplements, also called botanicals, are made from plants. Though they are natural, some herbal supplements can be strong and may have some risks, so be sure to talk to your physician about any herbal supplements before you begin taking them.

Sales of herbal supplements have been on the rise as more people turn to natural solutions for many things, including health. Here are five of the top-selling herbal supplements and some of the physical and mental ailments they are used for:

Turmeric: Used for arthritis, heartburn, stomach problems, jaundice, liver problems, gallbladder disorders, headaches, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, menstrual problems, cancer and depression.

Grass (wheat and barley): Used for increasing hemoglobin, improving blood sugar disorders, improving wound healing, preventing bacterial infections, removing toxins from the liver and blood, reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, increasing strength and endurance and preventing gray hair.

Flaxseed and/or flax oil: Used for rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol, anxiety, dry eyes, vaginal infections, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, constipation, weight loss and preventing breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Aloe vera: Used most commonly as a remedy for skin conditions such as sunburn, but some people also use it for osteoarthritis, bowel diseases, fever, diabetes, asthma, stomach ulcers, itching and inflammation.

Spirulina/blue-green algae: Used as a source of dietary protein, B-vitamins and iron. Also used for weight loss, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, hayfever, diabetes, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, improving memory, increasing energy and metabolism, healing wounds, preventing heart disease and treating PMS.

For a full of herbal supplements and their uses, click here.

There are many supplements on the market that make claims that have not been approved by the FDA. While many herbal supplements can improve health, not all herbal supplements are as effective as their labeling might suggest. Do your homework on any herbal supplement and be sure to talk to your doctor before taking it, especially if you have existing health problems or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.