Herbal Information

What is an herbal supplement?

An herbal supplement is a dietary supplement (a recognized FDA category of product) intended to supplement the human diet and promote good health. An herbal supplement is made from herbs, plants, or botanicals that have shown to be beneficial for human health; they involve using the "active" constituents of a botanical, and a "therapeutic" application of a plant or its parts. While herbal supplements may not claim to treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent disease, the value of plants and herbs for optimal health cannot be underestimated.

A brief historical perspective

Plant life has always been essential to the survival of humans and other species, serving as both food and medicine. The art and science of using plants therapeutically is considered one of the oldest forms of healing, with a recorded history dating back more than 5,000 years.

In 500 BC, Hippocrates advocated maintaining our natural life force through the use of herbs, fresh air, adequate rest, proper nutrition, and a balanced diet.

The Chinese, the Indian, and the Native American Indian cultures, in particular, have a rich history and tradition of using herbs medicinally and for wellness.

Chinese Traditional Medicine and India's Ayurvedic tradition both involve balancing the properties of various herbs in blends or multiple-ingredient formulas for their synergistic effects.

The FDA and the FTC [see industry regulation, below] recognize the beneficial "traditional use" of herbs and give value to evidence of "traditional use" as substantiation of efficacy of dietary supplements.

Herbs have gained worldwide use and acceptance

Consumer surveys estimate that 50% to 60% of the adult U.S. population use herbal products, spending nearly $4.5 billion annually.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 75% of the global population still rely on traditional healing methods, including herbal medicine. Botanical medicine is one of the most accepted and popular therapies worldwide for promoting wellness, optimal health, and longevity in children, adults, the elderly, and with our pets.

Herb industry regulation and safety

Many people believe that herbal supplements are "not regulated" or that "there are no laws governing supplements." However, in addition to state laws and regulations, herbal supplements are regulated by two federal agencies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees manufacturing and labeling compliance and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates advertising and marketing of herbal and dietary supplements. These agencies have joint jurisdiction over supplements, and each has the power to enforce compliance.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994 requires the manufacturer to ensure that a dietary supplement is safe prior to bringing it to the marketplace. Under DSHEA, manufacturers must assure that the product label information and claims are truthful, accurate, and not misleading.

The FDA's Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) establish a set of guidelines for manufacturers to maintain sanitary conditions and properly identify products that are free of adulteration and contamination and are fit for human consumption. Maintaining cGMP status requires regular facility wide inspections by independent auditors.

The FDA classifies herbal supplements as foods and recognizes their value as supplements to the diet in supporting normal structure and function of organs, glands, and body systems, as well as overall good health.

Support for using herbal supplements

  • The therapeutic applications of herbs have remained consistent for thousands of years, offering substantiation for their efficacy, often called "traditional use" evidence.
  • Active plant constituents are the basis for many of their pharmaceutical counterparts.
  • When used properly and if taken according to label directions, herbal preparations are generally free of harmful side effects and are not toxic unless otherwise indicated.
  • Herbs are natural substances that tend to work in harmony with the normal healthy function of our systems.
  • Herbal supplements can aid in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and are a gentle way to support normal health and promote longevity.
  • In accordance with Congressional Findings (Section 2 of DSHEA): "...the importance of nutrition and the benefits of dietary supplements to health promotion and disease prevention have been documented increasingly in scientific studies." There are numerous books, websites, and courses available to help you gain knowledge about herbs and allow you to make informed health care decisions.
  • Herbal preparations are far more affordable than many Western medical approaches.

Identifying high-quality herbal products

High-quality products begin with superior quality ingredients such as organic, ethically wildcrafted, or best-quality cultivated herbs and other purely natural ingredients. It is essential to combine traditional time-honored extraction processes with individually tailored techniques in order to address the unique attributes of each herb throughout the manufacturing process. Activating the plant's vital force and other beneficial attributes during a purely natural extraction process (free of heat or chemicals) is key to creating the purest and the most effective products possible.

Why your practitioner recommends Wise Woman Herbals® products

A health care practitioner with a focus in herbal or naturopathic medicine is best able to address your herbal needs. Wise Woman Herbals is one of the most reputable names in botanical supplements and other herbal products since 1989 and is the natural choice of respected naturopathic physicians and herbalists nationwide. Recognized for making unadulterated herbal products just as nature intended, Wise Woman Herbals has become a name that you can trust.