The Ultimate Guide to Herbal Supplements

The Ultimate Guide to Herbal Supplements

Sep 28th 2020

By Charlotte Traas, New Chapter ® Director of Education

You probably follow some kind of wellness regimen—maybe it’s regular physical activity, healthy stress management, and a daily multivitamin. Vitamins are certainly a great way to build strong foundations for health. Fermented multivitamins like New Chapter®’s are formulated to give your body the nutritional insurance you need, whether your diet is lacking certain nutrients or you just don’t have time to track everything you eat. But what if you’re looking to up your wellness game to the next level? Is there a way to incorporate dynamic and versatile herbs into your day without having to spend hours researching which herb is right for you? The answer is YES! This ultimate guide is designed to answer your key questions about using herbs, and explain one of the easiest ways to get the right herbs into your day.

What are the benefits of including botanicals into your diet?

While nutrient deficiency is a common term for missing out on nutrition that keeps your body in balance, what about herb and spice deficiency? Is that a thing? The truth is, herbs and spices do contain beneficial phytochemicals that aren’t typically present in the standard American diet. (“Phyto” means plant—so phytochemicals are compounds specifically from plants, like beta carotene from carrots or curcumin from Turmeric.) If your daily routine lacks unique phytochemical compounds, it could mean you’re missing out on some amazing health benefits.

Use of herbs around the world

We can look at traditional eating patterns around the world for evidence. Cultures that consume herbs and spices as a part of their daily diet tend to live longer, healthier lives and have healthy inflammation balance. For example, Ginger is consumed daily in Japan, and the Japanese people enjoy one of the healthiest and longest life expectancies in the world. Likewise, people in the Mediterranean region regularly consume herbs like Rosemary and Oregano, which are antioxidant superstars, paired with healthy fats like olive oil. The Mediterranean diet has a reputation for being one of the healthiest eating patterns.

In short, plants have been helping humans stay well for millennia. In fact, herbs are so important that New Chapter proudly supports an herbal humanitarian organization, Herbalists Without Borders, that is dedicated to bringing the power of herbs to communities in need. Read our blog about this vibrant global network and how they’re sharing the power of plant medicine.

Elderberry Tradition

Kitchen spices and herbal supplements are not the same

Kitchen spices add flavor to dishes and can include some of the phytochemicals you want. But it’s important to note the differences between supplemental botanicals and kitchen spices. Kitchen spices for flavoring are often dried and added to food in minimal amounts (or more, if you are bold!), whereas the herbs in supplements must meet different quality standards. The best supplemental herbs are made from potent extracts that deliver phytonutrients in different (higher) ratios than you would find on your kitchen spice rack. Taking herbal supplements—and it can be just one pill a day—is an easy and convenient way to add unique botanicals to your normal routine without a lot of disruption.

For example, you may have heard that Turmeric is a great addition to your diet because of its phytonutrients called curcumin and turmerones. But the dusty yellow spice-rack version of Turmeric likely has low amounts of curcumin and no turmerones. (Since turmerones are found in the oily components of the Turmeric plant, they get left out of dried Turmeric kitchen spices.)

While you could technically get your Turmeric by cooking elaborate curries with the powdery supermarket spice, there is another way to incorporate Turmeric into your day. To get the full benefits of Turmeric, take a full-spectrum herbal supplement that includes the plant’s phytochemicals in the ratios they occur in nature. Whole-herb supplements can have major advantages over kitchen spices in terms of quality, potency, and consistent delivery of those beneficial phytochemicals.

How to choose the right herb for you

With over 391,000 known plant species, picking an herb to support your health can feel intimidating! Herbs are also extremely versatile, which means they can be used for multiple things. This can lead to confusion when trying to research the herbs that are right for you.

Many people already understand the need for a multivitamin, as nutritional needs tend to be more mainstream. Use of herbal supplements is growing in the United States (especially Turmeric), but not yet as widespread as multivitamins. According to a 2018 survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, 75% of US adults age 35-54 take a multivitamin, while only 42% are taking an herbal supplement. While it’s possible to get some herbal benefits from food or tea, a convenient one-day herbal supplement formulation that supports the areas we need most is a great way to include herbals without all the guesswork.

New Chapter Elderberry Products

What is a multiherbal?

Imagine going to the health-food store or searching “herbals” online and being confronted with a wall of products that include different plant ingredients. How can you be sure how they work or what they do? Multiherbals from New Chapter are designed to make your choice easy, with botanical formulations created by an herbalist to address benefits you want most, like stress, sleep, and energy.

Inspired by tradition, grounded in science

The history of using plants to help balance health goes back tens of thousands of years. Hippocrates famously said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” indicating the ancient Greeks knew well how botanicals play a role in overall health. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses the power of herbs to affect your Qi, the overall life energy said to flow along channels within the body. The Ayurvedic tradition of India balances wellness according to the elements and the effects on doshas, the three energies that circulate within the body. For more details, check out my post on the History of Herbal Medicine.

While these traditional healing systems take distinct approaches to health, one thing is consistent in all of them: the inclusion of botanicals. Today’s scientific research validates why these herbs have been utilized traditionally for centuries. Modern science shows how herbs work and how they interact with systems in the body.

How do you know your herbal is working?

It’s important that any herbal supplements you take have two things in common: scientific validation and high quality. New Chapter’s One Daily Multiherbal products include clinically studied amounts of herbs that have been shown to make a difference in specific areas of health. For example, if you’re feeling stressed, you may want to include adaptogenic superstar Ashwagandha into your herbal regimen—and that’s exactly why we’ve included clinical-strength Ashwagandha in our stress relief multiherbal formula.

What to look for in multiherbal formulas

Creating effective herbal formulations is a delicate balance of science, tradition, and artistry. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, multiple herbal ingredients may be used with a philosophy of “to hit a target, throwing more than one arrow will give you a better chance of success.” Herbs can also work on different pathways in the body, and each one is important to acknowledge when, say, balancing stress. Have you ever had a nervous stomach? Stress can be felt everywhere, since our nervous system is directly connected to many places in the body, including your stomach. Combining herbs helps your body to experience botanical stress relief in different ways, one of which may be particularly effective for you.

The art of combining herbs is done by a trained herbalist. An herbalist is well versed in what natural botanicals do and how they work within the body. New Chapter is proud to have expert staff dedicated to ensuring botanical safety and quality. Each of our products is designed by holistic practitioners including herbalists and holistic nutritionists. Each formula is validated by a team of scientists: toxicologists, natural products chemists, and quality engineers.

Choosing High Quality Herbs

With so many herbs and botanicals out there, how do you know which one is the best choice? Herb misidentification and adulteration can be a problem in the herbal industry. A study was released in 2014 that found that many grape seed extracts were contaminated with peanut skin extract. In other botanicals, marjoram and oregano have a similar look and smell, and are even interchangeably used in some culinary recipes, but they are vastly different herbs.

Quality testing is an essential part of ensuring you can get the benefits of a specific herb—because if it’s not the correct ingredient in the first place, it can’t provide the benefits you’re expecting. To verify the herb in the bottle is indeed the one listed on the side of the box, New Chapter tests our ingredients for quality, purity, potency, and identity. For example, qualifying testing such as High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC) may be used to accurately identify botanicals. With New Chapter products you can be sure you’re getting everything you need, nothing you don’t.

Sustainably grown herbs make a real difference for people & planet

When it comes to sourcing botanicals, making sustainable choices is key both for your health and for the planet’s. For example, herbs can be harvested incorrectly by novice collectors and this may harm the plant’s ability flourish in the future. Soil health can directly affect plant vitality and composition. It’s no secret that crops are often grown for high yield over nutrition, meaning you get a lot of plants, but the nutritional value may not be as high as it once was due to soil quality declining year after year. In fact, the Rodale Institute finds that conventional farming’s focus on quantity over quality means our food is actually less nutrient-dense than it was 50 years ago. The same can apply to botanicals if they are not cultivated sustainably and with great care.

So, seeking out plant ingredients that are grown sustainably whenever possible helps to strengthen the soil and our planet. And it delivers a healthy plant with a solid phytonutrient profile. This is exactly why New Chapter is dedicated to supporting regenerative agriculture, which is a growing agricultural movement with the power to reverse the worldwide depletion of farmable topsoil, and even begin to reverse climate change.

Another way to source herbals well is indigenously where they grow best. For example, India’s tropical climate and terrain make it ideal for growing Turmeric, which is why New Chapter sources Turmeric from India, because it’s bursting with Turmeric’s natural phytonutrients.

Specific herbs support specific needs

Herbs can support many systems in the body. New Chapter’s family of One Daily Multiherbals is designed to bring you the scientifically studied benefits of Nature’s powerful herbs in targeted blends. With one pill daily you can customize your routine just the way you want. Super easy!

Because we always have to be cognizant of allergies and interactions with our body systems, New Chapter’s Holistic One Daily Multiherbal was designed with everyday herbal inclusion in mind. This formula delivers three herbal powerhouses from three different herbal healing traditions: Turmeric from Ayurvedic tradition, Ginger from Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Black Seed from the Middle East. The formula supports healthy inflammation response and healthy brain, heart, and mood.*

  • Turmeric is known for supporting cardiovascular health, cognitive health, and a healthy inflammation response. When herbs have such versatile actions in the body, they often gain recognition as being an herbal for everyone.
  • Ginger has been shown to be just as versatile as Turmeric, supporting your digestive system as well as also helping to balance inflammation within the body.
  • Black Seed was a traditional beauty secret of Nefertiti and remnants of it were found in Tutankhamun’s tomb. Known for supporting skin health, balancing stress in the body and promoting calm, Black Seed is a versatile herb for everyone.

How do adaptogenic herbs help with stress?

An adaptogen is an herb that supports the body in adapting to physical and biological stressors. With 83% of Americans saying they suffer from work-related stress (American Institute of Stress, 2019), many of us could use support in helping our body cope with the occasional stress of day to day life.

New Chapter’s One Daily Multiherbal Stress Relief features the adaptogen Ashwagandha in a dose matched to the compelling research that inspired this product.

  • Sensoril®, a patented extract of Ashwagandha from both the leaf and root of the plant, provides high levels of bioactives. It has been the subject of multiple clinical studies and shown to benefit in the management and reduction of occasional stress.* Ashwagandha is used in the Ayurvedic tradition as an adaptogen and as a “rasayana,” which are known in Ayurveda to be “vitalizers” supporting both physical and mental health. 
  • Black Seed (Nigella) is an herbal treasure of the Middle East and has been clinically studied to support healthy mood, reduce occasional anxiety, and promote calm.*
  • Combining these amazing botanicals with other adaptogenic herbals, like Ayurvedic staple Holy Basil and balancing Reishi mushroom, our Stress Relief formula gives you a multipronged herbal approach to soothing and calming the body.

What are herbs for energy that can be alternatives to caffeine?

When your body is looking for a mid-day energy boost, many people turn to coffee or another caffeinated product. This is a great example of “borrowed” energy, because it may leave you with a caffeine crash later or even caffeine jitters if you drink too much. Using botanicals to help create natural energy by supporting your body’s systems may be a better way to give you the energy you crave, without the crash. That’s the formulation philosophy behind One Daily Multiherbal Energy Boost.

  • Eleuthero, also known as Siberian Ginseng, is an adaptogenic herb that supports nervous system function. It has been used traditionally in China for thousands of years. In research, Eleuthero was found to boost energy levels and support cognitive function.*
  • Maca is a Peruvian super-root that grows at high elevation in the Andes mountains and has multiple scientific studies showing its positive effects on stamina and physical performance.*
  • Cordyceps militaris is a traditional Chinese mushroom that has been researched to show increases in ATP production, the primary carrier of energy in all living organisms.

Can herbals help me with restful sleep?

Is getting a restful night’s sleep on your ongoing to-do list? It is for many of us. One survey shows that 80% of Americans struggle with sleep at least once a week (Consumer Reports Survey, 2018). Fortunately, certain herbs are associated with supporting sleep. New Chapter’s One Daily Multiherbal Sleep Well supplies an all-in-one multi-botanical approach to a more restful night of sleep.

  • Botanicals like Tart Cherry include small amounts of the hormone melatonin, which your body makes naturally when it gets dark. Melatonin helps you fall asleep so your body can rest and regenerate after a long day. A study showed that after taking Tart Cherry for two weeks, researchers saw an improved total sleep time and high levels of sleep efficiency.*
  • While Ashwagandha, the balancing adaptogen we talked about earlier, was shown to be supportive for stress, it can also soothe and relax the body to help with sleep quality.*
  • Many people know about the benefits of a hot cup of Chamomile tea before bed, but the benefits of Chamomile to initiate sleep can also be taken in a supplement. Passionflower is also a soothing, non-habit-forming herb for sleep. (Read other tips for how to improve sleep quality with good sleep habits.)

Pairing herbs with your daily multivitamin

While choosing the right herbal can seem daunting, it’s simple to enhance your routine just by taking a convenient one-daily multiherbal with your multivitamin. Our potent line of targeted multiherbal formulas are designed to give you a serious daily dose of herbs that work as hard as you do. Taking these two types of foundational products together—a multivitamin plus a multiherbal—is a great way to support the multiple areas of your body and help you achieve balance.