Dr. Josh Axe, DC, DNM, CNS, is a doctor of chiropractic, doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food and nutrition. He operates leading natural health website DrAxe.com and is co-founder of Ancient Nutrition, a health supplement company. He’s also author of the books Eat Dirt, Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, Keto Diet, Collagen Diet and Ancient Remedies.
By Dr. Josh Axe
Even if you’re generally healthy and take care of yourself by eating a nutrient-dense diet and exercising, certain supplements can still be beneficial for you by providing extra nutrients and support.
For example, herbal supplements, such as ashwagandha and turmeric, are popular even among athletes and young adults because they provide health perks such as helping to support a healthy response to inflammation and promoting restful sleep.
Whether you’re interested in finding herbs that can promote stress relief, support immune system health or assist in digestion, there’s most likely a supplement out there that’s a good fit. However, you should always consult your healthcare professional before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplements.
Below we’ll look at how herbal supplements work, as well as the best types to take depending on your goals.
What Is An Herbal Supplement?
A herbal supplement is defined as a product made from a plant that is thought to be useful supporting health.
Herbal supplements come in many forms, including capsules taken by mouth, powders, tinctures, teas and more. Most often they are made from dried herbs and plants and then taken as tablets/capsules.
The great thing about these supplements is that they’re a concentrated and convenient way to benefit from superfood herbs. Most can be taken any time of day and are generally safe and well-tolerated. However, you should always read and follow label directions for use.
To maximize the effects of these beneficial herbs, pair them with an active lifestyle and a diet full of whole foods.
What are herbal supplements used for? Because there are so many different herbal supplements in existence, there’s a broad range of benefits and uses that they offer.
Some are geared towards promoting a positive outlook and supporting healthy energy levels, while others are useful for helping to support a healthy immune system and promoting restful sleep, relieving discomfort, or promoting healthy digestion.
Here are some of many herbal supplement health benefits:
- Supporting a healthy immune system and healthy response to inflammation
- Reducing joint discomfort
- Improving mobility and comfort
- Help reducing stress and promoting a positive mindset
- Supporting restful sleep
- Supporting healthy energy levels
- Promoting mental clarity and concentration
- Supporting a healthy intestinal and respiratory mucosal immune response
Best Herbal Supplements
Below is a list of the best herbal supplements, based on your needs and current health:
Turmeric is an herb that has been used in ancient health approaches for centuries, including to promote a healthy inflammation response. It also helps with joint support by decreasing discomfort and assisting in mobility and range of motion.
Curcumin is the name of turmeric's most active compound, and research shows that this is one of the main reasons turmeric produces such valuable bodywide benefits.
Ancient Nutrition’s Organic Turmeric tablets feature a full-spectrum, organic blend of turmeric root, fermented turmeric root, and fermented black pepper (which helps make turmeric more bioavailable).
Ginger comes from a nutrient-filled root that is native to Asia. It’s a common herbal supplement recommended for people who want to support healthy digestion.
It’s abundant in beneficial compounds including gingerol, phenolic compounds and terpenes, which support a healthy inflammation response.
Ginger can be consumed as an herbal tea, syrup, or capsules. It’s a great herb to take to support overall digestive health.
Elderberry is considered one of the best herbal supplements for supporting a healthy immune system. It’s also beneficial for promoting a healthy respiratory mucosal immune response, immune system activation and defenses, and even gut health.
This herbal product comes from dark purple flowers that grow on the elder tree known as Sambucus, which has long been recognized within the wellness space as an immune system-supporting agent.
Ancient Nutrition’s Elderberry + Probiotics capsules feature fermented elderberry fruit plus probiotics for gut support, in the form of 2 billion CFUs* of Bacillus subtilis. The addition to probiotics in this formula supports normal microflora in the gut, a healthy GI tract, normal digestion and a healthy immune system response.
Echinacea is a plant native to North America that has become known as a healthy immune system supporter.
Like elderberry, echinacea is a herb that’s valuable for its ability to support a healthy immune defense.
Our Echinacea + Astragalus capsules also feature 2 billion CFUs* of the SBO probiotic called Bacillus subtilis for extra gut function support. The addition of probiotics to these herbs delivers even more support for healthy digestion, normal microflora in the gut, and a healthy GI tract that supports nutrient absorption.
Recognized as the “king of adaptogens,” ashwagandha is an herb widely known for centuries in Ayurvedic traditions to promote restful sleep, help promote a healthy response to stress, and promote a positive mindset. The combination of organic ashwagandha root and leaf also delivers support for healthy energy, reduces fatigue, and promotes mental clarity and concentration.
This is an especially powerful herb to take during stressful times, as it’s known to support homeostasis (balance)
Our Organic Ashwagandha tablets are fermented to assist in absorption. Fermentation is an ancient process used to break down food into smaller components that makes it easier for the body to utilize. The addition of black pepper fruit also generally helps improve absorption and digestion.
Like some other herbs on this list, astragalus has roots in Traditional Chinese Method. This perennial plant is also known as milk vetch root and Huang-qi and is considered an adaptogenic herb.
Astragalus shares many of the same benefits as ashwagandha, including promoting a healthy immune system and healthy response to stress. It also helps to promote restful sleep and can help give you a feeling of “clearheadedness” and motivation.
Our fermented Astragalus capsules combine this powerful herb with SBO probiotics for even more digestive and immune system health benefits. This combination helps to maintain healthy gut microflora, can reduce occasional constipation, gas, bloating and distension, and helps to promote healthy elimination.
For anyone looking to naturally support healthy energy levels, a healthy stress response and mental clarity, ginseng herbal supplements make a great option.
Ginseng is a root native to Asia that contains many active chemicals, including ginsenosides or panaxosides, that support the nervous system and a healthy immune system. The two main types of ginseng are Panax ginseng and American ginseng, with American ginseng generally being thought to be “less stimulating .”
Both types of ginseng supplements are thought to promote a healthy immune system response and to promote concentration, cognitive function, mental performance, endurance and motivation.
A standard serving of ginseng hasn’t been established, so read and follow label directions for use for the product you purchase.