Do It Yourself Herbal Supplements: The New Herbal TrendSean Russell
A Guide to DIY Herbal Supplements plus Recipes
20% of the population uses herbal medicine and herbal supplements
The natural supplement industry has been booming over the last 10 years. Supplement use has grown steadily at 8% since 2013 where it was already a healthy industry. This growth is from several factors, with supplement growth mostly due to increased public demand.
The supplement industry is growing thanks to:
- Increased research of health effects of herbs
- More educated public about natural supplements and remedies
- Safer standards of herbs like Lab Testing and Organic certifications
- Easier access to herbs and supplements
- Growing trend in healthy lifestyles
The bottom line: People want more options of higher quality supplements
More Supplement Choices & More Supplement Access
Herbs and herbal supplements started thousands of years ago that came in a ‘prescription’ form to someone from a qualified ‘healer’. Herbal knowledge used to only be in the hands of healers, shamans, therapists, doctors, or whatever the local medical system provided. As more knowledge has spread across the public over generations, the access to these herbs and supplements have become more easily available to everyone.
Herb and herbal supplement access spread widely thanks to the internet. In the beginning it was mostly qualified people making formulas and herbal remedies out of herbs, as this advanced knowledge is still available only to those with advanced education on herbs. As the continued growth and success of herbal supplements continued to spread, people naturally wanted more options from herbs and herbal supplement available to them. Ten years ago you would have needed to call an acupuncturist or advanced herbalist in the United States to get a Chinese herbal formula with authentic Chinese herbs. Now you can simply buy single herbs in many forms including the easy to take herbal powder and powder extract.
The Era of Safe Herbs and Supplements
The boom in natural health has brought opportunity and therefore much needed research in the field. As herbs get more research we find more and more how safe herbs are. Although there is always concern of safety of anything we ingest, the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center finds that the top herbal medicines are effective and safe.
We now have the same type of scientific evidence of herbal medicine being effective that is used in pharmaceutical medicine. Mushrooms like the Reishi (Ling Zhi) Mushroom got its immunity boosting and anti-cancer verified through science. While at the same time we see the toxicity levels of herbs are so low we would have to take large amounts of dangerous herbs to even get sick.
More and more of the population wants to take more control over their own health and/or lead a more natural and health lifestyle. Herbs have been used for thousands of years to help overcome conditions and benefit health. There are lists of herbs that are proven useful and are safe to take daily, we call these Herbal Supplements (or tonic herbs).
Safe Herbs and Herbal Supplements Categories:
What herbs can i take every day to use as supplements?
To be a true herbalist and wield the power of masterful herbal remedy formula preparation you need education. In the United States a person needs to graduate with an advanced degree in Chinese medicine and be certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. This means this person knows anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, herbology, herb and pharmaceutical drug interaction, and lots of diagnostic knowledge. Honestly as a person with a degree and certification I think that most of my knowledge is about ‘treating already sick people’ with a smaller portion on ‘preventative medicine’.
Preventative medicine is supposed to be home based medicine using easy methods of herbs and foods. Preventative herbal medicine is even shared with patients from practitioners of all natural medicine including acupuncturist, naturopath, and chiropractor. More education in staying healthy is the underlying job of Acupuncturists and Herbalists. You cannot expect a person to see a physician or need a physician everyday. We all need education on keeping ourselves health daily. You don’t need a degree in herbal medicine to boost your health. Supplementing your health or practicing preventative medicine is easy to do. Simply add in some herbs into your daily regimen. These are the herbs you should look into adding into your pantry.
Adaptogens are substances than help our bodies adapt to various stressors on the body. This includes external stressors of exercise and environment to internal stressors like virus/bacteria invasions and hormone influx. This means that when you see an adaptogen it likely does some or all of the following:
- Immunity booster
- Increased strength and conditioning
- Increased cardiovascular health
- Better mental focus
- Improvement of mood
- Longevity, Vitality boost
- Increases energy
Adaptogen herbs are very popular as they are suitable for use as stand alone herbs or in extracts, each herb helps with a wide variety of things, and they are safe for daily use. Most adaptogen herbs have a “whole body tonic effect” that increases energy and health, meaning they can benefit you regardless of your current condition as they will always work to increase health. This benefit of Qi production and movement means that these herbs will be Slightly Bitter to Bitter in taste across the board. Most people will want to take a capsule or mix these herbs in a smoothie or shake.
Top Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine Adaptogen Herbs:
- Panax Ginseng (Ren Shen) – Chinese ginseng and the king of all herbs
- Maca Root – Similar to taro root. Full of protein and nutrients to enhance physical performance
- Rhodiola Rosea – Grown in the Himalayas and beneficial to cardiovascular health
- Shilajit Extract – Get the highest amount of Fulvic Acid possible, this is the main ingredient responsible for cognitive performance and overall health
- Ci Wu Jia / Eleuthro – Also known as Siberian Ginseng as it is similar in health benefits of Chinese Ginseng
- Schizandra (Wu Wei Zi) – Schisandra berry is one of the most popular adaptogen herbs showing its great overall health effects.
- Astragalus (Huang Qi) – An immune booster that also has a great sweet and woody flavor
Most mushrooms are good for you, but to get truly powerful effects you need to take medicinal mushrooms. Mushrooms as herbs are quite potent and always increase
immunity and health. The American Journal of Botany says there are more than 5 million species of mushrooms. For great health benefits you only need to choose between 5.
The 6 Best Mushrooms as Herbs for Health
- Ling Zhi / Reishi Mushroom – Oldest documented herbal mushroom, used for vitality
- Lions Mane – An assortment of mushrooms that grow like a lion’s mane and help increase strength, endurance, and improve cognitive function
- Cordyceps (Dong Chong Xia Cao) – Cordyceps is good for disease fighting, immune boosting and is a kidney tonic
- Chaga – A recent medicinal mushroom addition great for almost any health improvement
- Turkey Tail – A beautiful multi colored mushroom called Trametis versicolor, it is the #1 best mushroom for cancer benefit
- Fu Ling / Poria – A tasteless mushroom easy to consume and helps with the kidney and body fluid accumulation
Medicinal herbal mushrooms are often woody in flavor and often even bland. This means they aren’t usually tasty enough to make a tea but they usually go well in any drink, shake, and most foods.
The section of delicious herbs can be a little subjective, but let me explain. Herbs in this section you know are safe because they are used as foods, spices, and teas. The herb Noni fruit, for example, is also juiced and drank daily by many people. A common spice, but also a powerful medicinal, Turmeric is eaten daily by a whole culture of people but also has great medicinal effects.
Some Examples of Delicious Herbs to Include In Your Diet Daily
Jiang Huang – Turmeric or curcumin should be medicinal grade turmeric, a great anti-inflammatory
Goji Berry (Gou Qi Zi) – Benefits the eyes and blood
Noni Fruit – Tasty immunity booster
Coconut Water Powder – Coconuts are incredibly good for you and this powder makes delicious drinks to help hydrate your body and refresh electrolytes.
Long Yan Rou (Longan Berry) – Long yan rou is a Chinese herb berry for the blood and spirit, it tastes good and can be added to all kinds of things.
These tonic herbs usually contain only the sweet flavor of tonic herbs. They are easy to take in any form.
Tonic Chinese Herbs
Tonic herbs I am putting with Chinese herbs because the word tonic is often implied from Chinese herbs in categories where they tonify certain aspects of health. Western and ayurvedic herbs that are tonic or tonify are likely classified as adaptogens. The two biggest examples of tonic herbs are Panax Ginseng and Astragalus. Both of these herbs are listed in the Adaptogen section, showing the popularity of adaptogen herbs. I will list more examples of Chinese herbs that tonify the body and are great for daily use.
Chinese Tonic Herbs for Daily Use
Rhemannia (Shu Di Huang) – Rhemannia is good for female issues, any kidney disorder and benefits blood
He Shou Wu (Fo Ti) – A longevity herb dating back to the first emperor in China
Rou Cong Rong (Cistanche) – Benefits strength, endurance and sexual health
One of the tastes of a tonic herb is sweetness, but as I mentioned about adaptogens some herbs that generate and therefore move Qi in the body will also have a slightly bitter or bitter taste. Chinese Ginseng and Astragalus are great examples of Qi Tonics that have some bitterness to them. However, most people are able to suck on a piece of Astragalus or Ginseng and enjoy the sweet and slightly bitter combo, I find them delicious. Try out various herb powders and see which you can easily mix into a shake and which you prefer to be capsuled.
How to take herbs and supplements yourself
People want to choose their own herbs and supplements to make their own daily health routine. Powders and extracts of single herbs and blends are readily available to give you the opportunity to choose your own supplements and health regimen.
Do you want to increase immunity? Do you want to increase health? Do you want to increase skin health? Do you want better athletic performance? All of these things can benefit from herbal supplements
Herbal tea is the classical way to take Chinese medicinal herbs. There are many ways to make a tea from herbs, such as decoction or infusion, but instant tea is becoming more popular in its ease of use and preparation. For these instant teas you simply buy a Chinese herb extract powder of 4:1, 5:1, or 10:1. These powders are ready to just add to water and drink (a sweetener like honey or stevia may be required)
Capsules are the most popular form of consumption of herbs that don’t have a great taste. Buying herbs in capsules can take away potential quality options and combinations. Buying capsuled herbs is also the most expensive way to take herbal supplements. Some people who prefer to take herbs in capsules often buy their own capsules and add their own herbs or combinations to them.
Shakes and Smoothies Provide Herbal Supplement Freedom
Shakes and smoothies have come in and out of various popularity over the last 20 years. Today they are back in the biggest way ever. Harvard School of Medicine found direct health correlation with protein rich diets. However the protein source matters! High quality protein matters, so most people take a daily protein drink. Now you can scoop a healthy protein boost into a drink. This also satisfies those looking for
- Paleo protein sources
- Protein powder with no carbohydrates or fat
- Vegetable sources of protein
- Mushroom based protein
- Blended dairy based proteins
I highly recommend that everyone look into some kind of additional protein source a day. The least expensive way to do this is buy a powder you like and make a protein shake or smoothie every day. If you have a daily protein shake you already have a base to simply add in herbs to your shake or smoothie.
The cheapest way to take herbal supplements is buy the powder and add them to your shakes or smoothies
Most protein powders are sweetened, so this also makes adding herbs and such easy. If your powder is not sweetened simply use honey or a natural zero calorie sweetener like stevia extract.
Protein Shake with Herbs Recipe
Choco-Maca – Energy Protein Shake
- 1 scoop protein powder (chocolate, vanilla, or neutral)
- 2 teaspoons Maca powder
- ½ teaspoon cocoa powder if you didn’t use chocolate protein powder
- Sweetener if you didn’t use protein powder with a sweetener
Combine ingredients with 8oz Skim or Low Fat Milk in a blender
Cacao and Maca are both substances used for energy and sexual wellness. The maca and the protein powder combine with the low/non fat milk packs a huge protein punch! The taste is great and the maca provides needed vitamins and minerals in the body as well as gives a great energy boost.
Adaptogen Protein Shake Recipe
Schizandra Pucker Up Protein Smoothie
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 teaspoon Schizandra 5:1 extract powder
- 1 teaspoon Astragalus 10:1 extract powder
- 1 cup frozen berries (strawberry or raspberries)
- ½ cup skim milk
- 1 Scoop of ice
Combine ingredients and blend
Schisandra berry is full flavored berry that is very high in vitamin C. This herb has a great flavor, that is mostly sour. Schizandra adds great health benefits and a tasty sour flavor to the smoothie. The Astragalus and Schisandra are both well rounded adaptogens also good for your skin, and immunity. Protein powder and skim milk add a protein punch to this smoothie that adds great energy benefits and more stable blood sugar. This smoothie is a very refreshing berry drink with a sweet and sour flavor profile.
Drinks and Functional Foods are the final ways to take adaptogens and herbal supplements daily that we will look at. As I mentioned before there are many delicious herbs like Goji berry that you can buy in powder and add some water and make a delicious drink that also happens to: benefit your skin, benefit your eyes, increase vitality. Coconut water powder is also something packed with vitamins and minerals you can just add to water and take. Try adding fresh mint to your drink to help calm your nerves or upset stomach.
Functional Food: a food containing health-giving additives and having medicinal benefit.
Juice is a good friend when it comes to functional drinks. Juices themselves have different health benefits, you can easily add almost any herb with a juice and combine them for health benefits. Orange juice is exceptional at being able to make herbs taste good. Try adding Schisandra to orange juice.
Similar to making an easy drink, many herbs can be added to foods and recipes to bolster their health benefits. If you cook for yourself you will find this easy with experimentation, if you don’t cook your own food you will have to look into adding herbs to your food.
Some ways to use herbs in functional foods:
- Sprinkle high grade cinnamon on sweets to help regulate your blood sugar
- Use Astragalus when roasting any fowl by stuffing with astragalus and goji berries
- The high Vitamin C content of Schizandra makes it a tasty part of grilled chicken marinade
Tip: Using crystal light lemonade as a base liquid you can add many herbal extracts directly to your zero calorie drink. Try 1-3g Chamomile 4:1 Extract Powder into 8oz Crystal Light Lemonade