Since 2000, the Council for Responsible Nutrition, an association composed of dietary supplement and functional food manufacturers, has sponsored the annual Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements. Survey results published in 2017 show that the American market for dietary supplements continues to grow. With usage by adults aged 55 and older showing the biggest growth at a 6% increase.
The survey report is suggestive that many Americans are using more than just one type of dietary supplement. As expected, vitamins and minerals are the most commonly consumed supplement with 98%. Or almost all of the supplement users taking one form of vitamin or mineral supplement. The second most consumed dietary supplements are the various specialty supplements at 49%. Followed by herbals and botanicals in third place at 39%. Here are the top 5 herbal and botanical supplements used by Americans in 2017.
#1 Green Tea (14%)
In spite of the negative results of many studies on green tea or green tea extract and its effect on weight loss, green tea remains the number one botanical product most consumed by Americans in 2017.
Indeed, studies about green tea extract show both its health benefits and risks. For instance, a 2015 study concluded that for women with central obesity, high dosage treatment of green tea extract (Epigallocatechin gallate) for twelve weeks can lead to significant weight reduction. On the other hand, a 2017 study showed that consumption of green tea extract in high dosages and sustained for twelve months led to the development of moderate to severe abnormalities in liver function.
Nevertheless, green tea is popularly consumed not just for weight loss but also for depression, diabetes, and low blood pressure, among others.
#2 Cranberry and Turmeric (tied at 9%)
Cranberry supplements are most popular for the prevention or treatment of urinary tract infections (UTI). However, results of scientific studies are conflicting. It is recommended that one should not rely on cranberry supplements to treat an ongoing UTI.
There are studies, however, which have shown that taking cranberry supplements may help in the prevention of UTI. Because the fruit contains proanthocyanidin, which is thought to protect against the bacteria that usually cause UTI. Other uses of cranberry supplements include fever reduction, to increase urine flow, and for kidney stones.
Thanks to its curcumin content, turmeric is gaining popularity for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies show that consuming at least one gram of turmeric a day can be very beneficial. However, since it’s difficult to consume this much turmeric if used only as a spice, it is thus recommended that one should take turmeric supplements.
Turmeric has many known health benefits. Aside from being a powerful antioxidant, it can also help improve brain health and cognitive function. And that it may be good for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Taking turmeric regularly may also help lower risks of heart diseases. Recent studies have also focused on how turmeric can help fight cancer. Some of the promising results show that turmeric can help prevent the spread of cancer and even contribute to the death of cancer cells.
#3 Garlic and Ginseng (tied at 8%)
Garlic is one of the most popular and most common natural food that has long been valued for its amazing health and medicinal value. More specifically, garlic is used for better cardiovascular health such as to prevent high blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and to prevent atherosclerosis.
Garlic may also help prevent various types of cancer. Other health benefits of garlic include treatment for diabetes, BPH or enlarged prostate, flu, yeast infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, exercise-induced muscle soreness, asthma, diarrhea, and so many more.
Because garlic has so many health benefits, it’s no wonder that it’s the third most popular botanical supplement used by Americans. Despite the fact that one can easily include garlic in one’s diet. Allicin is the main active constituent that makes garlic so valuable as a medicinal plant. However, this is also the main compound that makes garlic smell. To avoid the smell and to get the recommended amount of garlic consumption, many turn to supplements instead of just adding more garlic in their food.
Ginseng, on the other hand, refers to the many species of plants under the Panax genus. Different types of ginseng can lead to varying health benefits. But the most common type of ginseng usually found in herbal supplements is Panax ginseng which is commonly called Korean or Asian ginseng.
Long used in traditional Chinese medicine, ginseng has many health benefits. It’s used for high blood pressure, fatigue, as a nootropic when combined with ginkgo, to lower blood sugar levels, and in men, to address erectile dysfunction. Ginsenosides are the compounds that are considered as responsible for ginseng’s therapeutic benefits.
#4 Ginkgo Biloba (6%)
Ginkgo biloba is another popular herbal supplement known for its antioxidant properties. Ginkgo is associated with improved cognitive function, bladder infection relief, and increased sexual energy. For brain health, ginkgo is considered to help with blood flow to the brain. And to protect brain cells from the damage caused by Alzheimer’s.
Ginkgo supplements are also used for eye health, to fight anxiety and depression, for headaches and migraines, and to relieve pain in the legs caused by clogged arteries. It may also help with asthma and blood pressure problems.
#5 Milk Thistle and Echinacea (tied at 5%)
You may have known of milk thistle as silymarin, Mary thistle, or holy thistle. Either way, this plant is popular for its health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels and for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Milk thistle is also used to help with liver problems including jaundice, gallbladder disorders, and cirrhosis. It can also help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Also called American coneflower, echinacea is popular as an immune system booster. There are various species of echinacea used in herbal supplements. But all of these species contain phenols which have antioxidant properties. Examples of conditions for which echinacea is used as treatment include malaria, dizziness, acid indigestion, rheumatism, migraine, flu, and tonsillitis.