Herb supplement information on Medicinal herbs, Chinese, Spices, and Adaptogens- a list of Medicinal remedies
June 19 2018
Ray Sahelian, M.D.  

Many botanical supplements, made from the seeds, bark, leaves, flowers and stems of a wide range of plants, have been widely used as folk remedies for centuries. This web page gives a list of medicinal herbs. Healing qualities depend on many factors: cultivation, harvesting, storage, selection, discernment of quality, and the different processing methods used. Organic herbs are preferable. More Americans should incorporate natural herbs and spices into their daily diet. If there is no herb farm or store near you, you can always find individual or bulk herbs on the internet, sometimes at wholesale prices. All the herbs discussed on this web page are legal.

Herb supplement extract definition
What does it mean to have a 4:1 extract for herbal products such as acai and ashwagandha?
   A 4 to 1 extract means that 4 kgs of starting material will result in 1 kg of extracted material when the starting material is extracted with a solvent. Hovever different manufacturers are likely to end up with different concentrations of active ingredients even if they all claim to do a 4 to 1 extraction.

Taking breaks from dietary supplements
Q. I have been taking some targeted supplements for my health problems from Life Extension. These supplements have been researched and tested by trial and have been proven to be helpful. Is it still a good idea to “take a break from them” say, one week out of a month, since they haven’t been tested for extremely long use? I am currently taking the “Endothelial Defense”, “Arterial Support”, and “Vitamin K” for my arteritis, as well as a couple for my glaucoma. These are in therapeutic amounts based on the research. Also, which supplements are safe to take continually, ongoing? Are things like fish oil, lecithin, Turmeric, Resveratrol, Grape seed, etc. safe to take w/o a break in low doses? Or is it a good idea to take a break from all supplements once in awhile, including a multi? As we get older, my husband and I find ourselves taking more and more supplements to address the problems and the aches and pains that we have, as well as his high blood pressure. If we do stop taking supplements at intervals for a rest and homeostasis, will any health benefits gained? How long should the rest be? Is it better to lay off for a week at a time, or just for every weekend? We are in our 70’s.
   A. There are no definitive answers that apply to everyone, much depends on the dosage taken, the number of herbs and supplements taken together, a person's diet, sleep patterns, use of alcohol, exercise habits, overall health, body size and weight, age, etc. But, as a general rule, taking 2 days off a week is a good idea or one week off a month.

Medicinal Herbs for acne

Ginseng --  Asian: panax ginseng -- North American: panax quinquefolius -- Siberian: eleutherococcus
Maca root
Rhodeola rosea - Active substance salidroside, grown in arctic regions, has adaptogen, anti-fatigue, psychostimulant properties.

Amazonian Herbs
Abuta plant
Achiote Amazonian herb
Catuaba is used for sexual vitality
Camu Camu fruit
Cat's Claw has been promoted to reduce inflammtion
Graviola herb
Muira Puama is used for libido improvement
     See Amazon herbs for a full list

Anti-inflammatory herbs
Cat’s claw has anti-TNFalpha properties
Devil's Claw
Frankincense, also known as boswellia serrata
Turmeric has curcumin and other curcuminoids

Anti-tumor herbs
Cat’s claw -- in addition to its antimutagenic activity, Uncaria tomentosa extracts and fractions exert a direct antiproliferative activity on MCF7 breast cancer cells.
Garlic cloves
Mangosteen fruit
Noni fruit
Rubia cordifolia herb has several anti cancer compounds including epoxymollugin.

Anxiety and stress relief
Ashwagandha may help in some people
Chamomile herb
Magnolia plant
Kava kava is quite potent as an anti anxiety herb but due to potential liver toxicity with overuse, I suggest you not take kava pills more than twice a week.
Passionflower herb
Jasmine oil is often used in aromatherapy to lift mood and mild relaxation benefit.

I was wondering if you know of, an herb or other supplement that helps one "loosen up" or in other words loose inhibitions similar to drinking alcohol, but without alcohol?
   You could consider kava or passionflower and discuss with your doctor and used them only once in a while.

Asthma herb
Comfrey herb has been suggested for asthma but this herb has toxic effects to the liver and lungs

Ayurvedic herbs
Ashwagandha herb is often used for relaxation and rejuvenation. Try different dosages at different times of day to see which amount and time of day works best for you.
Bacopa herb is proposed as a memory herb and is found in many herbal mental enhancement formulas.
Mucuna pruriens herb is used for Parkinson's disease and is an effective sexual enhancer.
     See Ayurvedic herbs for a full list.

Bleeding stoppers
Aspilia africana

Botanical names of herbs
You can see a list of botanical names of herbs.

Cancer herbs that may play a role in cancer prevention or treatment
Broccoli sprouts extract
Curcumin herb
Graviola herb
Mangosteen fruit has xanthones

Chinese herbs
Ginkgo biloba
Panax Ginseng herb
     See Chinese Herbs for a full listing

Herbs for Cooking -- Culinary
Garlic clove has various medicinal properties including the ability to kill germs or at least prevent them from further growth
Rosemary herb
Sage herb

Cough relief
Licorice herb
Marshmallow herb

Medicinal Herbs for Depression treatment and to lift mood
Certain natural substances could reduce the need for prescription antidepressants
St. John's wort plant has several substances including hyperforin and hypericin
Albizzia herb

Diabetes help or blood sugar control
Banaba extract
Cinnamon herb and extract
Coccinia herb extract
Prickly Pear herb

Fertility herbs -- herbs for Infertility
Maca herb
Mucuna pruriens may be of help

Herbs for Hair Loss
Even though saw palmetto -
serenoa repens - has been mentioned as an herb for hair loss, I am not yet convinced that it works.
   Another potential supplement for hair health is
Beta-Sitosterol in combination with saw palmetto.

Headache relief
Butterbur herbal extract
Feverfew herbal extract

Herbs for High Blood Pressure or to reduce hypertension
Arjuna is an Ayurvedic herb that has promising effects in blood vessel dilation. See also high blood pressure for information on natural herbs that treat hypertension.

Immune herbs, infection
Cordyceps mushroom extract
Echinacea herbs -- Echinacea purpurea -- E. angustifolia -- E. pallida
Goldenseal herb is available as a supplement.
Reishi mushroom

Potentially illness-causing E. coli bacteria can be found on herbs bought at some farmers markets

Liver health
Horsetail used in hepatitis support.
Milk Thistle herb has silymarin used for liver health

Herbs for impotence, erection problems and sexual enhancement
Impotency herbs information -- Sex herbs list -- Hot Plants list
There are quite a number of herbs used for the treatment of impotence or erectile dysfunction.
Butea superba herb for sexual benefit
Hormy goat weed with icariin, a flavonol
Maca herb
Muira Puama plant
Passiflora incarnata also known as passion flower
Tongkat ali certainly can be considered an impotency herb
Yohimbe is an impotency herb that works in an hour or two but has unpleasant side effects if the right dose is not taken.

Is coleus forskohlii an effective herb for impotence or erection problems?
    It may have a mild effect, but the plant extracts listed above are more potent.

Artemisia annua
Tongkat ali from Malaysia or Indonesia is sometimes used for malaria treatment

Mind and Memory Herbs
Bacopa monnieri
Ginkgo biloba
Sage plant

Medicinal herbs -- Healing and for health
Flaxseed Is a rich source of lignans and omega-3s and may thwart prostate cancer, lowers cholesterol.
Hyssop is commonly combined with horehound to ease sore throats, and to treat asthma and bronchitis. Early studies showed that crude extracts of hyssop produced antiviral activity against herpes simplex and HIV-1.

Medicinal Herbs for Menopause
Many herbs have been touted for menopause, but the research regarding the benefits of herbs for menopausal symptoms has not been consistent.
Black Cohosh -
cimicifuga racemosa herb - for menopause symptoms. May reduce levels of LH, lack of estrogenic effect.
Red Clover

Prostate Herbs
Saw palmetto also known as serenoa repens
Pygeum africanum herb

Penis Enlargement herb -- Male enhancement
As far as I know, there are no herbs that lead to penis enlargement, however, there are impotency herbs or male enhancement herbs that can create a rock hard erection.

Sweet Herb
Stevia has no calories

Herbs for skin
Aloe vera

Green tea
Licorice herb tea - take breaks from drinking licorice tea since daily use can lead to excess loss of potassium by the kidneys.
Milk thistle
Rooibos from South Africa

Herbs for Urinary Tract Infections
Uva ursi herb
Cranberry juice or extract pills

Herbs for urinary tract obstruction, stones
Butcher's broom has been used historically

Weight loss herbs, thermogenic and appetite suppressors
Citrus Aurantium or bitter orange
Garcinia cambogia, brand name CitriMax, has hydroxycitric acid
Green tea extract
Hoodia gordonii

Heart palpitations with herbs and supplements
Q. In a newsletter you mentioned that herbs and supplements could increase the heart rate for people over 65. A year ago, at age 68, I was diagnosed with vasospasm after taking the following supplements for 5 weeks: 400 mg green tea extract, 250 mg Korean Panax Ginseng, 100 mg CoQ10, 100 mg R Lipoic acid. I was hospitalized, had extensive tests all of which were normal, (arteries declared "pristine") and since I am in otherwise good health, exercise regularly, healthy diet, low cholesterol, no significant stress, it was thought to be an anomaly. I have not had any problems since, however I now take 2.5mg of a calcium channel block as a precaution. Is it possible the herbs / supplements could have contributed to the vasospasm?
   A. Green tea extract, ginseng, and lipoic acid could certainly accelerate heart rate and cause irregular heart beats or perhaps other cardiac dysfunctions.

Drug herb interaction and danger
It is highly likely that herbs interact with drugs. Some herbs interact more than others. For instance, ginkgo is a blood thinner and needs to be taken cautiously by those who are on Coumadin.

Kidney harm
Curr Med Chem. 2013. Mechanisms of herb-induced nephrotoxicity. Herbal therapies gained much popularity among the general public, but compared to therapies approved by official authorities, toxicological studies are frequently not available for them. Hence, there may be inherent risks and the kidneys may be especially vulnerable to toxic effects. Herbs may induce nephrotoxicity by induction of apoptosis. High oxalate contents in Star fruit (Averrhoa carambola L.) may induce acute nephropathy. Triptolide from Thunder God Vine (Triperygium wilfordii Hook) is a diterpenoid epoxide with induces reactive oxygen species and nephrotubular apoptosis. Cranberry juice is discussed as promoter of kidney stone formation (nephrolithiasis). Abuse of guaifenesin from Roughbark (Guaicum officinale) increases stone formation. Aristolochia acids from Aristolochia fangchi Y.C.Wu ex L.D. Chow & S.M. Hwang causes the well-known aristolochic acid nephropathy and carcinogenesis by DNA adduct formation. Carboxyatractyloside from Impila (Callilepsis laureola DC.) inhibits mitochondrial ATP synthesis. Acute allergic interstitial nephritis was diagnosed after intake of Peruvian Cat's claw (Uncaria tomentosa). Whether or not Willow Bark (Salix alba L.) induces analgesic nephropathwy is a matter of discussion. Other herbal therapies are considered to affect the rennin-angiotensisn-aldosterone (RAA) system Ephedra sinica Stapf with its ingredient ephedrine. Devil's Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens DC. Ex Meisn.) and licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra L.) may inhibit major renal transport processes needed for filtration, secretion, and absorption.

A few thoughts
Pharmaceutical companies have provided us with some wonderful medicines. So has nature. Pharmaceutical companies have, at times, also marketed dangerous drugs. Nature has also created herbs and plants dangerous for human consumption. I often hear people emphatically claiming that herbal therapies are safe and are preferable to drugs. Although this is generally true, it would be simplistic to unequivocally assert that substances found in nature are inherently safer and superior to those synthesized in laboratories. Each chemical, whether natural or man-made, has to be evaluated on its own merits. Let's keep in mind that during millions of years of evolution, plants created chemicals to help them not only extract and use nutrients found in soil, water, and air, but created chemicals to make themselves unpalatable and toxic to insects and animals bent on consuming them. Poisonous Amanita mushrooms are a case in point. We know that many chemicals found in plants and herbs are not fit for human consumption. The only good way to find out the medicinal merits of a particular herb is to do extensive human testing.
        It just happens that certain herbs and plants have produced chemicals that are beneficial for human consumption. Examples are fruits and vegetables. Not only do they contain carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals, but they also have thousands of nutrients including bioflavonoids and carotenoids that have enormous health-promoting properties. Additionally, many herbs and plants have been found to have chemicals that have potential in the therapy of a variety of human ailments.

Additional Medicine herbs that I am not sure how to categorize
Adenophora herb
Asparagus root extract
Bamboo used in Chinese Medicine
Betel nut plant
Black galingale from Thailand also known as black thai ginger or Krachaidam
Bladderwrack is a form of seaweed
Bluish dogbane herb medical uses
Boldo herb

Boneset herb
Bugleweed herb
Chickweed herb
Chicory herb
Cotlsfoot herb
Helicid herb
Oak bark herb
Pelargonium herb
Polygonum cuspidatum is an herb that has become popular since it is a rich source of resveratrol.
Sceletium herb
Yellow Dock herb
Yucca herb

Shiitake mushroom

World Health Organization is developing new monographs on plants commonly used in Eastern European countries. These include:
     Celandine - chelidonium majus
     Knotweed - polygonum aviculare
     Plantain - plantago major
     Tickseed - bidens tripartita
     Sea buckthorn - hippophae rhamnoides
     Syrian rue - reganum harmala
     Yarrow - achillea millefolium
     Yellow chaste weed - helichrysum arenarium

Toxic Herbs

Herb garden
It would be great if more people planted an herb garden with mint, parsley, dill, etc. Why not plant an indoor herb garden?

Tincture versus powder
Can you confirm that tinctures are more easily biologically and hence more effective than their pure powder counterparts? By that I mean would a muira puama powder mixed with say catauba powder (for an example) and then made into a tincture be more effective than a muira puama tincture, taken with say catuaba powder (or similar type herb as a powder) or is there no real benefit gained from mixing herbs prior to making them into tinctures. I am interested in whether I can get max effect from suitable combined herbs from a stored tincture than by taking several capsules or powders which are messy time consuming and may not be as effective.
    Each herb is different in terms of its effectiveness whether as a tincture or powder, and much depends on how the tincture was prepared. Different tincture products on the market for the same herb can have different effects depending on how they were prepared. Plus, each person may metabolize such herbs differently. As a general rule, the powder form of an herb should be well absorbed and work quite well although there are times when a tincture would be more effective. One would need to try each herb or combination on themselves in various forms to determine the best form and the best dosage to use.

Herb Extracts:
Agrimory 12:1
Aiye Leaf 4:1
Akebia Caulis 10:1
Alfalfa 5% total Flavonoids (HPLC), 5:1
Alisma 20:1 Extract Alisol B Acetate (HPLC)
Almond 4:1 Extract
Althaea Rosae Root 7:1
Amlisa 30% Tannins
Anemarhenae Asphodeliodes 4:1 Extract
Angelica/Dong Quai 4:1Extract, 1% Ligustilides (HPLC)
Ashwagandha 1.5% Alkaloids
Asparagus Root 4%,10% Asparagosides (UV-VIS)

Barley Grass Juice Powder 20:1 Extract
Barley Grass Straight Powder 1:1 Extract
Bilberry 25% Anthocyanidins (UV-VIS)
Bitter Melon 20:1 Extract, 400 IU
Bitter Sophora Root 20% Matrines
Black Bean 15:1 Extract
Black Cohosh 2.5% Triterpene glycosides (HPLC)
Black Tea 30%-40% Polyphenols (UV-VIS)
Boewellia Sorrata 65% Boewellic Acids
Bupleurum 5% Bupleuruum saikosaponins (UV-VIS)
Burdock Root 4:1 Extract
Burdock Seed 40% Arctiin & Arctigenin

Carrot Juice 20:1 Extract
Cassia Fistula 1.5% Anthraquinones
Cassia Nomame 10:1Extract
Cassia Tora 10:1 Extract
Cat Nut 4:1 Extract
Cats Claw 4% Alkaloids
Celandine 2% Chelidonine
Chanomile 4:1 Extract
Chasteberry 5% Vitexin (HPLC)
Chrysanthemum 12:1 Extract
Cinnamon Bark 20:1 Extract
Citrus Aurantinum 4% - 30% Synepherin (HPLC)
Codonopsis Root 4:1 Extract
Cordyceps Seninesis 4:1 Extract
Coriolus Mushroom/Yunzhi 20:1 Extract, 20% Polysacchrides
Corus Officinals 4:1 Extract
Corydalis Yanhusuo 25:1Extract, 80% Total Alkaloids (HPLC)
Cranberry 10:1Extract, 10%
Cranesbill 4:1 Extract
Curcumae 12:1 Extract
Curcumin 95% Curcuminoids

Dahurian Rhodoendron leaf 70% Proanthocyanidins (UV-VIS)
Dandelion 4:1 Extract, 3% Flavonoids (HPLC)
Dan-Shen (Salvia) root 8% Tansinones
Devils Claw Root 4:1 Extract
Dogbane 7:1 Extract
Dryopeeris 15:1 Extract

Elderberry 5% Anthocyanidins (UV-VIS)
Elecampane Flower 4:1 Extract
Elecampane Root 4:1 Extract
Epimedium 50% Icariin (HPLC)
Eucommia Bark 20:1 Extract
Eucommia Leaves 7:1 Extract
Evodia 20:1 Extract
Eyebright herb 4:1 Extract

Fennel Seed 4:1 Extract
Fenugreek 4:1 Extract
Feverfew 0.8% Parthenolide (HPLC)
Fo -Ti / Ho Shou Wu, 2% Phoshatide

Ganoderma Lucidum Karst 60% Polyose
Garcinia Cambogia Fruit 50% Hydroxycitric Acid
Garlic 2% Allicin (HPLC)
Gastrodia Rhizoma 20:1 Extract
Gentian Root 10% Gentiopicroside
Ginger Root 5% Gingerols
Ginkgo Biloba leaf 24/6/1%
Ginseng (Panax) Root 8- 80% Ginsenosides (HPLC)
Golden Rod 5% Flavonoids (HPLC)
Golden seal Root 5% Flavonoids (HPLC)
Gotu Kola 10 - 80% Triterpenes (HPLC)
Grape seed P.E.95% Anthocyanidins (UV-VIS)
Grape Skin 20- 30% Polyphenols (UV-VIS)
Griffonia Seed 99% 1-5-Hydroxyiryninphan
Guarana Seed 22% Caffeine (HPLC)
Gymnema 18:1, 25% Gymnemic Acids
Gynostemma 20-90% Gypenosides (HPLC)

Hawthorn Berry 4% Vitexins (HPLC), 4:1 Extract
Hawthorn leaves 2% Hyperosides (HPLC)
Hedyotis diffusa 12:1 Extract
Hibiscus Flower 4:1Extract, 1% Anthocyanidins (UV-VIS)
Honey Suckle Stem / Flower 10:1 Extract
Hops Flower 0.35% Flavonoids (HPLC)
Horse Chest Nut 20% Aesbin (UV-VIS)
Horsetail 2% Silica (AA)
Houttuynia 10:1 Extract
Huperzia Serrata (Huperzine A) 1 - 99% (HPLC)
Hydrangea Root 4:1Extract

Inula racemosa 0.2% Alkaloids
Isatis indigotica fort 60% Indirum

Jasmine tea 40% Polyphenols (UV-VIS)

Kava Kava 30% kavalactones (HPLC)
Kola Nut 20% Caffeine (HPLC)
Licorice Root 10% Glycyirbizic Acid (HPLC)
Ligusticum 10:1 Extract
Lobelia Intiata 4:1 Extract
Lotus Leaf 20:1 Extract
Lovage 15:1 Extract
Lycium 15:1 Extract
Lycoris radiata 80% Alkaloids

Magnolia Bark 20:1 Extract
Maitake Mushroom 15% Polysaccharides (UV-VIS)
Malva Verticillata 4:1 Extract
Medicago 10% Coumestrol
Milk Thistle 80% Silymarin (HPLC)
Morinda Root 4:1 Extract
Motherwort 5:1 Extract
Moutan Bark 20:1 Extract
Mucuna 10% L-Dopa
Mulberry 4:1 Extract
Mulberry Mistletoe 12:1 Extract
Mustard Seed 20:1 Extract, 5% Nardostachytis 12:1 Extract
Nettle Root /Leaf 10:1 Extract
Noni 2:1 Extract
Notoginseng Root 80% Notoginsenosides (HPLC)
Notopterygium Root 12:1 Extract
Nuphar Pumilum Root 12:1 Extract
Nutgrass 4:1 Extract

Oat Straw 10:1 Extract,
Ocimum sanctum 0.2% Alkaloids
Olive Leaf 6%
Oolong Tea 30% Polyphenols (UV-VIS)
Ovate 20:1 Extract

Paeonia Lactilora Pall 80% Glycoside
Passion Flower 4:1
Peppermint 8:1 Extract
Phyllanthus niruri 3% Bitters
Pine Bark 95% Anthocyanidins (UV-VIS)
Piper nigrum 10% Piperine
Placenta powder Plantago Herb 4:1 Extract
Plantago Seed 4:1Extract
Poncirus 10:1Extract
Poria Cocos 6:1 Extract
Pu Erh Tea 15% Polyphenols (UV-VIS)
Pueraria/Kudzu 40 / 90% Isoflavones (HPLC)
Pumpkin Seed 4:1 Extract

Rabdosia Japonica Hara 60% Diterpene
Raspberry 12:1Extract
Rauwolfia serpentina 4:1 Extract
Red Clover 1/ 8% Biochanin A&B (HPLC)
Red Peony 12:1 Extract
Red Rice Yeast 0.4 -1.5% Lovastatin (HPLC)
Rehmannia 6:1 Extract
Reishi Mushroom 4% Triterpenoids/10% Polysacchrides
Resveratrol (Giant Knotweed) 15% ~98% (HPLC)
Rhizoma Drynaria 10:1
Rhodiola 40% Polyphenols (UV-VIS)
Rhubarb Root 9% Anthaquirone
Rosehips 5% Ascerbic Acid
Rosemary 4:1 Extract
Royal Jelly Power 6% 10-HDA

Sarsaparilla Root 4:1 Extract
Saullea Vaginate 2.5% Triterpene Glycosides
Saw Palmetto Berry 25 /40 % Fatty Acids & Sterols
Schisandra berry 2.0/5.0% Schisanchins (HPLC), 10:1 Extract
Scultellaria b. root. 95% Flavonoids
Semen Coiois 4:1 Extract
Senna Leaf 8% Sennosides
Shavegrass 2% Silica
Shiitake Mushroom 6% Polysacchrides (UV-VIS)
Siberian Ginseng 1% Eleutherosides B + E (HPLC)
Siberian Milkwort 4:1 Extract
Siberian Solomonsel 10:1 Extract
Sida cordifolia 1.7% Alkloids
Soy Bean Isoflavones 40% Isoflvones (HPLC)
Spirulina 60% Protein

St.Johns Wort 0.3% Hypericins (UV-VIS)
Stevia 95% Steviosides
Sunflower 5:1 Extract

Teasel Root 8:1 Extract
Terminalia bellerica 60% Tannins
Terminalia chebula 40% Tannins
Thyme 4:1 Extract
Tomato Lycopene 10:1
Tribulus Terrestris 40% Tribulus Saponins (HPLC)
Turmeric Root 95% Curcuminoids
Uva Ursi Leaf (Xiong Guo) 20% Arbutine
Valerian root 4:1 Extract, 10:1 Extract
Wheat Grass 4:1 Extract
White Atractrylodes 15:1 Extract
White Tea Extract 40% Polyphenols (UV-VIS)
White Peony 80% Glycosides (HPLC)
White Willow Bark 15%~25% Sallcin (HPLC)
Wild Luttue 4:1 Extract
Wild Yam 16% Saponin (HPLC)
Wormwood 7:1 Extract

Herbal Extracts versus the Whole Herb. Which is Healthier?
Q. In terms of herbal supplements, and in particular the ones containing herbal "extracts", I've been wondering whether herbal "extracts" are really such a good idea, in that these herbal extracts, as I understand it, contain isolated and concentrated components of herbs, these components being what are considered the "active" components. My concerns are:
     1) when these so-called "active" herbal components are isolated and concentrated in this way, are we not possibly excluding other important synergistic components that would normally work with these components in the natural situation, i.e. in the whole herb? , and
     2) when the components are concentrated in this way, is this not now bordering on being like an artificial drug where the active herbal components are present in amounts not normally found in the natural whole herb? Add to that the fact that other components are excluded which otherwise (at least I wonder) maybe would have somehow "balanced" these active components. Is this then safe?
     Basically I've been wondering these things, comparing whole herbs to herbal extracts. Hope your highly knowledgeable staff will enlighten me as usual. Thanks much.
   A. This is an excellent question. There is no blanket statement that can be made. Each herb has to be evaluated individually to see whether the whole herb or the extract is preferable. With some herbs, it may be better to take the whole herb, and with others, an herbal extract may be preferable. Sometimes the active ingredients are too minimal within the herb, or they may be toxic or unwanted substances within the herb that need to be removed in order to obtain the active ingredients without toxicity. As a rule, I prefer the whole herb, but I have no problems using extracts when appropriate. Sometimes, in order to elicit a benefit, the active ingredients have to be concentrated in order for therapeutic amount of the active herb to fit in a capsule.
     We have to keep in mind that nature did not produce herbs with the idea that these would be beneficial to human consumption or to treat a human medical condition. Herbs evolved in order to protect themselves from microbes, insects and animals that would eat them or to protect themselves from harsh environmental conditions. It just happens that certain herbs have some beneficial compounds that we find helpful. But this does not mean that every molecule or substances within an herb is beneficial.
     As to whether they are considered a drug when herbal extracts are concentrated, it depends on how one defines a drug. I consider a drug any substance that is not normally found in the body. By this definition most herbs are drugs, whether whole or concentrated, or extracted. However, there are substances within herbs that are useful to the body and are normally found in the body. For instance, goji berry has zeaxanthin, a carotenoid, which is found in the retina and other tissues. Hence, certain components of some herbs are not drugs but supply crucial molecules to the body. One advantage of standardized herbal extracts is that different research labs can compare their results using the exact same herbal extract. One example is ginkgo extract, another is saw palmetto.
     Bottom line: no sweeping statements can be made that apply to all herbs. Each herb and herbal extract needs to be evaluated individually in different dosages for each person who is using them, and also how they interact with other supplements and medicines.  There are too many variables that prevent a simplistic answer. Furthermore, different raw material processing companies may have different ways to make herbal extracts, and one batch from one company may be slightly or significantly different than form another company. Add the fact that soil conditions, temperature, time of harvesting all influence an herb's composition, you can see why no simple answers can be given.

Q. Will any of the medicinal herbs damage the kidneys or liver, what I mean if they are taken as directed on the bottle.
   A. It is possible. Herbs are potent and can have benefits and side effects, just like medicines.

Q. Wow and thank you, your site has been more helpful then anything i have found on the web. I'm only 20 but i already suffer from erectile problems, i can get it up, just not all the way all the time, its not a full erection. anyway i have just started taking the herb ginko 120mg because i read that it helps ED, and it was something i was not embarresed to buy from the store. I stumbled over your site while reading up on the herb ingredients in Enzyte, I'm sure you've heard of Enzyte. the herb i researched was Tribulus terrestris, which led me to your site. My question is I want a strong penis like any male my age should rightfully have, If you were to recommend an herb for me should i stick to the ginko herb or try tribulus terrestris herb, i'm sure it wouldnt be good to mix them. Or would you recommend a different herb for someone my age. Also i am hoping that maybe the herb will also improve my flaccid state, because i am often embarresed i just want it to hang a little more, you know what i mean? I'm 20 with a girlfriend and nothing lowers your self esteem more then when your girlfriend cant get on top because your penis isn't hard enough, or when you can't even perform.
   A. We really can't give individual advice on which herb to take since this would be considered treating a patient without a full medical evaluation and could open us to legal troubles, however we can refer you to this web page impotence that discusses different herb options that you could review with your doctor.

Q. In general, I am wondering if herbs and supplements are safe for children?
   A. This is too general a questions since there could be some children who could benefit from herbs and supplements while others may not. As a rule, it is best to use herbs and supplements in children only if necessary.

Q. Can you inform if all the herbs used in Dr. Sahelian's formulas are screened for heavy metal and other pollutant toxicity prior to being used in the products ?
   A. All the products made by the Physician Formulas label are. However, as in any field, including pharmaceutical drugs, 100 percent purity guarantees are impossible.

Q. What natural herbs help treat cellulitis of the breast?
   A. Cellulitis is a serious condition and I am not aware of natural herbs that are effective for this infection.

Q. I design herb gardens for clients in sunny Arizona. The raised bed type. Have there been any studies that reveal the effects of taking herbs directly from a garden
compared to those in supplement form? We could say either grow your own or buy your own.
   A. Iam not aware of specific studies that have compared herbs grown in a garden versus herbs in capsules or tablets. There should be no major difference. However, many herbal supplements are a more concentrated form of the herbs and could be more potent. If an herb says it is a 4 to 1 concentration, that means the capsule would be equivalent to taking four times the amount of the herb.

I was wondering if you could help me. I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Ontario Herbalists Association and I am starting a project to acquire insurance coverage for our members' services (Registered Herbalists) in Ontario. As part of the package I am trying to put together any material that would support the use of herbalism as a preventative modality. I know that you are very fluent in the research of the day so I thought you might have some suggestions. I would think that 5 or 6 good references would be sufficient.
    This is too broad a topic, it would help to be more specific.

Just thought you might be interested: I have used sutherlandia on two occasions - When I tried to come off citalopram completely (without success - I'm still on a very low dose) when I felt so awful, tried all kinds of things including 5htp, and sutherlandia was the only thing that made me feel normal again. I have had swine flu for two weeks and just could not shake off the exhaustion and post flu ill feeling. I took sutherlandia and I improved drastically! I don't take it very often because it makes me visit the toilet so often that it is rather inconvenient, and occasionally gives me a mild feeling of tummy upset. Just thought you might be interested - I would like to know more about its benefits and side effects and wish someone would do more research into it.


I wanted to let you know that the segment of the March 24, 2010 Dr. Oz show features Cat's Claw (Uncaria tomentosa), Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia), Tamanu oil (Calophyllum inophyllum), and Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia).

I just received some superhype e-mail from GNC about a new product called Pink Magic. I am very skeptical about the claims. I checked with your website, but did not find the any of the 3 key ingredients in your master list. The active ingredients are listed as follows: As a dietary supplement, take two capsules three times a day with food. On workout days, take an additional 2 capsules 30 minutes before training. Maintain dosing in a 6 days on, 1 day off pattern. Serving Size 2 Capsules Servings Per Container 90 Amount Per Serving % DV. Proprietary Blend 1600.00 mg  Massularia Acuminate (stem) Nelumbo Nucifera (seeds and leaves) Rhamnus Nakaharai (stem). Other Ingredients: Gelatin, Cellulose, Magnesium Stearate Warning: This product is only intended to be consumed by healthy adults 18 years of age or older. Pregnant or nursing woman should not use this product. Consult with your health care provider before using this product, especially if you are taking any prescription, over the counter medication, dietary supplement product or if you have any pre-existing medical condition including but not limited to: high or low blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke, heart, liver, kidney or thyroid disease, seizure disorder, psychiatric disease, diabetes, difficulty urinating due toprostate enlargement or if you are taking a MAO-B inhibitor or any other medication. This product is not intended for use by those with a serious medical condition or pregnant or lactating women. Discontinue use and immediately consult your health care professional if you experience any adverse reaction to this product. Do not exceed recommended serving. Do not use if safety seal is broken or missing.
   I am not familiar with Pink Magic or these three
medicinal herbs.


How about a review on Ziziphus Spinosa, Paeonia Lactiflora Extract, and Wild Lettuce.