Herbal Supplements: Growing Consumer Demand

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Published: 29th December 2008
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Herbal supplements are medicinal plant preparations, traditionally used to treat a number of diseases and symptoms caused by nutritional deficiencies. They are included in the dietary supplement category, although they impart only small amounts of nutrients.

Today, the vitamin and herbal supplement industry covers a $20 billion enterprise. A few of the factors that have added impetus to the popularity of this growing industry are:
  • Satisfactory scientific validation of many of the herbs used in herbal supplements.
    New advances in science and research are quickly substantiating many of the traditionally claimed remedial usage of herbs. For example:
    • Omega 3 fatty acids are now being recommended, under a doctor's guidance, by the American Health Association for patients who suffer from cardiovascular health disorders.
    • Antioxidants like resveratrol and those found in green tea and cocoa have gained popularity accredited by scientific research. Studies have been conducted on their benefits to heart health, ability to support healthy cholesterol levels and also for their roles in supporting healthy blood sugar levels. Antioxidants are also used as proactive measures for helping the body protect itself from free radical damage and for enhancing skin health, especially for protection against UVA and UVB. Antioxidants also are used to provide anti-aging benefits.
    • Beta-sitosterol is being used extensively by men looking to support prostate health. Doctors in America are now beginning to recommend this supplement to those at high risk for prostate disorders and for effectively treating symptoms of BPH.
    • The supplementation of probiotics is gaining grounds as science proves the effectiveness of good bacteria in our intestines and its role in improving digestion which can be linked to supporting immune health.
    As science continues to progress, more traditional herbs will prove their safety and efficacy, playing a contributive role in current health issues. There are thousands of herbs and only a marginal percent have been studied so far!
  • A growing dissatisfaction with conventional treatment. Many people consider herbal supplements a safe alternative to conventional treatments which are costly and can have side effects. In comparison, herbal treatments and methods are reported to have lesser side effects. According to a 1999 Congressional hearing, 106,000 people die annually of prescription drugs as compared to 12 from herbal supplements which are mainly due to cases of misuse of these herbs, or unusual circumstances.
  • An educated public. More Americans are educating themselves on health issues and the role of nutrition, diet, herbs and exercise in addressing major health conditions such as digestive and cardiovascular problems. Because of this education, more Americans are making an informed decision for herbal supplements. About 60% of the American public chooses herbal supplements and are satisfied with their choice.
  • A growing aging population. The average life span has increased from mid-60s to late 70s. This older generation seeks to live longer and sustain an independent lifestyle for as long as possible. Many consider herbal supplements the best way to meet their health needs as they have fewer side effects and offer preventive health treatment. Options include supplements like:
    • Omega 3s that promote heart, joint and brain health (specifically for enhancing memory).
    • Anti-aging products in the form of supplements, lotions and creams. These usually contain antioxidants.
    • Besides multivitamins and minerals, probiotics and enzymes are popular choices for digestive health.
    • As eating habits of the elderly can become more varied, natural, wholefood supplements containing all the essential nutrients as well as fiber, probiotics and enzymes are considered to be valuable options for sustaining good health.
    • Older men are becoming more aware of prostate health issues and are turning to safe and trusted herbal treatments, such as beta-sitosterol.
  • More people are turning health-conscious. As options for healthier lifestyles become more easily accessible and convenient, Americans are choosing to live healthy! There is a steep rise in the number of diet and weight loss aids, and supplements that are formulated to address specific health issues common to our world today. More Americans are trying hard to keep a balanced diet, live healthier, and are using supplements as a means to enhance their health.
  • More Herbal Supplements Specifically Targeted to Current Major Health Concerns, Demographics and Gender. Then number of herbal supplements that are formulated specifically for men, women and children are the rising trend. The popularity of energy drinks is growing as are supplements for specific health issues such as anxiety disorders, immune health, etc.
The upward trend reflects that more people are choosing to include herbal supplements into their daily health regimen. People are taking their health more responsibly and experiencing the positive health benefits of herbal supplements. With much research substantiating their claims and fewer side effects, it is obvious that herbal supplements are meeting the health challenges of today.

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