As research continues to pile up supporting the use of herbal medicine, more and more people are turning to plants to care for themselves and their families. Sales of herbal supplements totaled nearly 9 billion dollars in 2018, according to the American Botanical Council’s annual market report. An increase of nearly 10 percent compared to the previous year, this number marks the strongest sales growth of herbal supplements in over two decades.
Here at Wildcrafter, we’re thrilled to see so many of you discovering the healing power of plants. And it seems like some of our favorite herbal allies are yours, too—the medicinal mushrooms we feature in our products were top sellers, as were immune-supporting herbs like the ones in our Immune Shield blend. You all have great taste in herbs (and coffee)!
But as much as we love the way that people are embracing herbal supplements, we also recognize that knowing how to choose herbal supplements can be confusing. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements the same way it does pharmaceuticals and conventional over-the-counter medications, meaning much of the onus falls on consumers when it comes to determining the quality and safety of supplements.
Knowing this, and bearing in mind that not every company takes transparency as seriously as we do, we’ve put together some suggestions about how to choose herbal supplements.
Positive Identification of Ingredients
This one might seem obvious. OF COURSE a supplement contains the ingredients it’s advertised to contain, right? Sadly, this isn’t always the case. In 2015, an investigation led by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman used DNA testing to evaluate a variety of herbal supplements. The testing revealed that only some of the products actually contained DNA from the ingredients advertised on their labels.
At Wildcrafter, we’re meticulous about positively identifying the ingredients we use in our blends. All of our botanicals are tested for genus and species, so you can rest assured that what you see on the label is exactly what you get in your coffee cup.
Ingredients in the Right Amounts
When you’re buying supplements, you want to know that it’s potent enough to work properly. While many companies may hook you by mentioning their product’s active ingredients in big letters on the front of the bottle, the fine print will tell you that the product contains too little of those active ingredients to make a difference in how you feel. On the other hand, too much of certain supplements can actually do more harm than good when it comes to your health.
We’re incredibly lucky that our products have been carefully formulated by Tiearaona Low Dog, MD, a physician who has gathered, grown, studied and used botanical medicines for more than 40 years. A scientist, clinician, educator and author, Dr. Low Dog is considered one of the nation’s leading experts in botanicals. Not only does Dr. Low Dog possess virtually unparalleled expertise in the world of herbs and supplements, she also understands how confusing these products can be for customers. She literally wrote the book on how to choose the right supplements for your body, and she is Chief Medical Advisor for two vitamin and dietary supplement brands, MegaFood® and INNATE Response™.
Purity of Ingredients
When you’re buying supplements to help support your health, the last thing you want is a product that’s been contaminated with chemicals or made with unnatural ingredients. It doesn’t make much sense to buy a product designed to improve your wellbeing if the ingredients in that product have been sprayed with pesticides or are made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
At Wildcrafter, we understand that organic matters, even when it comes to your coffee. That’s why we’re committed to using 100% organic ingredients, from the Arabica coffee beans to the herbs we infuse them with. And just to be sure our products are pure, we test over 300 pesticides and herbicides, as well as heavy metals. This is more than what most companies do and it takes a lot of effort, but it helps to ensure that you get the benefits you’re looking for.
Unwanted and/or Cheap Ingredients
Just as important as considering what you want from a supplement is knowing what you don’t want. When seeking a supplement that has the active ingredients you’re looking for, also check to see that the product doesn’t contain additional ingredients that you don’t need or want to put into your body.
You should also check to be sure that the supplement contains ingredients your body can actually use. Many inexpensive supplements are made using forms of ingredients that are poorly absorbed, meaning your body can’t really utilize them (and you’re basically throwing your money away). Wildcrafter uses whole plants that are finely ground to increase surface area and maximize nutrient extraction through the brewing process with our coffee.
Quality Seals and Company Guarantees
When perusing supplement packaging, look for quality seals and third party certifications. For example, Wildcrafter’s products are third party tested for ingredient accuracy and are Certified Organic, Fair Trade, and Certified Recyclable by SCS Global Services.
We’ve also made the choice to use K-cups® made from #5 plastic, which is accepted at most recycling facilities (unlike the commonly used #7 plastic K-cups®, which are not). This choice puts us in the top 10% of easily recyclable K-cups® on the market.
Manage Your Expectations
As much as we’d all love a magic pill that improves our health overnight, most supplements take time to work. If you feel like a supplement isn’t working for you because you don’t feel any different, it may just be that you haven’t given it long enough to do its job. We suggest you take supplements as directed — for Wildcrafter that’s up to three cups a day — for a month before deciding if they’re having an effect.
Knowledge is Power
When it comes to buying supplements that are right for you, knowledge is power. We hope these tips on how to choose herbal supplements will help you make the best choice for your body.
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