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Herbs in supplements, how and why?

  1. For centuries herbs have been used in different cultures, because they are said to have medicinal properties. Many people benefit from it. Is there actually scientific evidence about the positive effects of certain herbs? There are also many questions about the safety and effect of herbal supplements. We have listed the answers to the most frequently asked questions for you.

What are herbal supplements?

  1. Herbs and plants contain many different active ingredients. They can have positive health effects if you consume them in a certain amount. Think of turmeric to maintain flexible joints. Or valerian and passion flower for a good night's sleep. By eating plants and herbs you often do not get enough of the active substances to achieve a positive health effect. An herbal supplement is actually a way to get as much of the plant's active ingredients as possible. Herbal supplements are also known as herbal preparations and are available as pills or capsules and sometimes as drops, powders or drinks.

Why am I taking an herbal supplement?

  1. The range of herbal supplements is enormous. The jars state exactly which herbs are in the product, what effect they have and what you can use them for. Below the 10 most sold herbal preparations. Dutch name Latin name Health effect Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea Supports a good resistance Passion flower, lemon balm, valerian Passiflora incaranta, Melissa officinales, Valeriana officinales Has a calming and relaxing effect, promotes sleep Red yeast rice Monascus purpureus For the maintenance of a normal cholesterol level Turmeric Curcuma longa For flexible joints, a good resistance and a healthy digestion Milk thistle Silybum marianum Supports the cleansing effect of the liver Ashwagandha Withania somnifera Has a calming effect, for a good mental balance Cranberry Vaccinium macrocarpon Supports a healthy environment in the bladder Black cohosh Cimicifuga racemosa Helps with menopause symptoms Ginseng Panax Gingseng For memory, concentration, mental energy and vitality Japanese temple tree Gingko biloba For memory, concentration and good blood circulation A

Purple Coneflower

  1. Echinacea purpurea, also called purple coneflower, could mean that little bit extra in times when your resistance could use a little more support.

Passion flower, lemon balm and valerian

  1. Passionflower is a graceful flower and also known for its soothing effect on the nervous system. It helps when you are restless or tense and to sleep well. Lemon balm also has a calming effect and is best known for its leaves that smell and taste like lemon. The root of valerian has a beneficial effect on the nervous system, it supports mental tension and stress situations and promotes a good night's sleep.

Red yeast rice

  1. Monacoline K is the active substance in red yeast rice and contributes to the maintenance of normal cholesterol levels in the blood. Monacolin lowers the unfavorable LDL cholesterol in the blood and at the same time can increase the beneficial HDL cholesterol in the blood. A good ratio of LDL to HDL is important for health, especially that of the heart and blood vessels.


  1. Turmeric is a spice that is widely used in food. The active ingredient from the turmeric plant, curcumin, is said to have several positive effects on the human body. Much research is still being done on the effect of turmeric. It is said to be beneficial for flexible joints, digestion, resistance and there are also indications that it is good for memory and concentration.

Milk thistle

  1. The fruit of the milk thistle plant has been eaten for more than 2000 years and is now used in food supplements to support the cleansing effect of the liver. Silymarin is the best known active ingredient in milk thistle that has the cleansing properties.


  1. Ashwagandha root has been widely used in India for thousands of years and is now widely used in nutritional supplements for its beneficial effects on the mind and body. It supports a good state of mind and has a relaxing effect in situations of stress.


  1. For women who can use bladder support, cranberry can be a good supplement. Cranberry has therefore been used for a long time to increase the resistance in the bladder. Cranberries contain certain substances, proanthocyanides type A, that prevent certain substances from attaching to the bladder wall.

Black cohosh

  1. Black cohosh is a plant that would provide relief from menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings. The root was traditionally used by the Indians during menstruation and menopause.


  1. Ginseng has been known in Asia for thousands of years for its health-promoting properties. The roots of the plant contain the active ingredients, ginsenoids, which promote both physical and mental stamina.

Gingko biloba

  1. The leaves of the Ginkgo biloba, also called Japanese Temple tree, are used in food supplements because of the beneficial health effect on the blood circulation in our body. They promote blood flow, which helps with cold hands and feet. It also promotes blood flow in the brain, which means that Ginkgo biloba has a positive effect on memory and concentration.

How does the herb end up in a pill or capsule?

  1. Plants and herbs containing active ingredients are often grown in large quantities. When the herbs are fully grown they are harvested and transported to the factory. The parts of the plant or herb that contain the active substances are ground in a machine. A solvent is added to this. The active substances from the herbs are absorbed into the liquid. The liquid is also called a herbal extract. This extract can be sold as drops or tinctures. Often there is an extra step in which the extract is evaporated to a dry mass. For example, the dry mass contains many active ingredients of the herb. The dry mass is then processed into a capsule or tablet.

What should I watch out for when taking a herbal supplement?

  1. Recommended use and daily dosage Herbs are used daily in food. For the taste, but also for the possible health effects. They are found in a greater amount in herbal supplements. The advice is to stick to the recommended dosage stated on the label of the supplement and to follow the advice for use stated on the label. Then they have the intended effect and you use them safely. Warnings Some herbal supplements are not suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women. They are also sometimes unsuitable for children and the supplements should always be kept out of the reach of young children. These warnings are on the label of the dietary supplement. Interaction with drugs Most dietary supplements can be used in addition to drugs. But there are exceptions. Using certain herbal supplements can make some medicines work stronger or less or even stop working. When using medication, always check the label of the nutritional supplement for a warning for use with certain medicines. In case of doubt or advice, consult your treating doctor, therapist or pharmacist. Read here which commonly used herbal supplements can change the effect of medicines.

Want to know more about safety?

  1. Read also: What are the safety requirements for herbal supplements?


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