Liquid herbal supplements are growing in popularity worldwide. But with so much focus on taste, can they actually be as well as topical or aromatic treatments?
Herbal supplements usually come in the form of teas, vials, gel-cap pills, or in pour-by-dose bottles. When using natural treatments, they may be considered instead of solid pill forms, or instead of topical or aromatic essential oils. In this article, we review effectiveness of oral liquid supplements and any potential side effects that may occur when mixing them with other supplements.
Liquid Herbal Supplements vs. Solid Herbal Supplements
Solid herbal supplements are more commonly found than liquid supplements. They may also have lower prices because of the competition and the longer shelf-life. Their solid nature is due to a range of binders, some of which may contain allergens. At the same time, some solid components may assist absorption – make sure to read all labels to determine whether an additive completes a function, or whether it is just a filler.
Liquid herbal supplements are generally easier to absorb in the digestive tract, and they often come in more pleasant flavors than solid versions. For this reason, liquid supplements are often branded for kids. However, because the natural herbal supplements often don´t have great tastes, they may contain significant amount
of flavoring and coloring to make them look at taste more desirable. If you are going for a natural approach, these additives could be counter-productive.
It would be ideal to find a liquid herbal supplement without artificial flavors or colors to take advantage of its ease of absorption and of its health properties.
Liquid Herbal Supplements vs. Essential Oils
People who seek natural treatments might be comparing and contrasting the liquid herbal supplements with essential oils. It is important to know that the way in which both of these act on the body is extremely different. Liquid herbal supplements are absorbed into the body via the digestive tract, and active components normally enter the blood stream to reach target cells and organs, just like oral medicine would.
Essential oils have a different mechanism of action all together. The exact mechanism of action depends on the chemical composition of essential oils, but in general, they can act directly on cells and cell components on the topical area, or they can be absorbed into the skin and travel into the bloodstream. As for the aromatic effects, they have a direct effect on the brain, as pain and olfactory systems are closely connected. For pain and stress reduction, at the very least, (for athletes, for example) aromatherapy can be very useful.
In this case, it is difficult to compare the two, since their mechanisms of action are very different from one another, and there are great variations between one another. These two general types of treatments may even be complementary.
For example, if you would like to reduce stress, you can drink chaga tea, while using a peppermint tea essential oil diffusion.
Some other benefits of liquid supplements include:
- Ready absorption (1-4 minutes)
- Easy digestion
- Greater potency
- Flexible dosing
- Can mix liquids with a specialist for a customized drink
- Better taste
Can I Take Two Supplements at a Time?
This is not, for better or for worse, a yes or no question. Remember that even though herbal supplements are not pharmacological, per se, they are still made up of natural chemicals that do have an important effect on our tissues and cells. As with any treatment, it is important to inform yourself about any potential side effects and interactions. Because they are so varied in their composition, it is impossible to make generalizations. Below are links to some of the websites where you can look up herbal supplement and drug interactions, but never forget to ask your natural health specialist or physician about interactions.
What To Look Out For When Shopping for Herbal Supplements
Whether liquid or solid, it is always important to check and double-check the quality of what you are putting in your body. Here are some tips for making sure you are getting the best possible nutritional and health support from whatever form of supplement or essential oil you can find.
- Make sure you can read the labels. Purchasing imported supplements with fancy packaging may be tempting. However, often these supplements do not have readable labels. Supplements are required to have labels written in the official language of the region they are being sold, precisely to be able to inform yourself about what you are putting in your body.
- Read the ingredients. This is especially true if you are allergic to something. Check for allergens even in the most unexpected places.
- Avoid cure-all claims. Claims should always be approved or evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any and all supplements that claim to be magical, without any references or explanation, are probably lying to you.
Remember that, in general, your nutrition should come from food. Supplements can be a good support if you are ill, on the verge of becoming ill, or if you have a diagnosed deficiency; it is then that you will see the most profound effects on your health. So, while herbal supplements can support your health, do not depend on them for your wellbeing.