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12 Herbs and Dietary Supplements Beneficial to Health

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Today, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is enjoying great popularity.  According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 40-percent of adults report using CAM.  Physicians often combine CAM with mainstream medical therapy, which is called integrative medicine.  CAM encompasses ancient healing systems (e.g. ayurveda from India and traditional Chinese medicine), homeopathy, and naturopathy.  Herbs and dietary supplements are also part of CAM.  Herbs and dietary supplements are not as tightly regulated as prescription medications, as a result, they do not have to be approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Twelve herbs and dietary supplements beneficial to health are…


1. Echinacea

Echinacea is an herb native to North America and is the most widely used herbal product in the United States. It is derived from the leaves, flower, and root of the purple coneflower. Native Americans were the first to use the herb medicinally for ailments ranging from respiratory infections to snakebites. Recently, it has grown in popularity as a treatment for the common cold (also known as upper respiratory infections, or URIs).

Current research supports the use of echinacea in the treatment of URIs.  If taken shortly after the onset of cold symptoms, it can reduce the duration of illness by 1 to 2-days. Echinacea is not effective for the prevention of URIs. Recommended dosages of the herb vary widely and it’s available as a liquid, capsule, tablet, and tea. Common adverse effects include stomach upset, nausea, and dizziness. No significant drug interactions have been reported with echinacea.


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