If you suffer from low energy, frequent illness, or other manifestations of poor health, you likely know how important health is for a happy life. In order to thrive mentally and physically, we need to feel our best. Nature’s Way, a manufacturer of herbal medicines, offers natural supplements for a variety of ailments ranging from fatigue to poor digestion. As a huge fan of natural remedies, I decided to investigate and I must say I am quite impressed with their product line. In this article, I will review some of the Nature’s Way herbal supplements so that you can decide if they might be a good option for you.
Additionally, Nature’s Way recently decided to donate one percent of its gross revenue on herbal products to the Rainforest Alliance, an organization that works to conserve forests and promote sustainable livelihoods. Big props to them for promoting individual health AND the health of the environment.
Things to Consider Before Using Herbal Supplements
- Are they right for me?
- Supplements may not be appropriate for everyone and you should always consult your doctor regarding any serious health conditions or concerns. Herbal supplements can, however, be a great option for various conditions and can complement a healthy diet and lifestyle beautifully. To determine if a supplement is right for you, a little homework and research is necessary. Certain supplements can interact with medications or other supplements you might be taking. Keep track of your medications, supplements, and dietary changes. Also, be sure to research any potential contraindications between them. It is a good idea to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure about a particular combination.
- Are they safe?
- The most important thing to know before using an herbal supplement is whether or not it is safe to consume orally and in what dose. Just because something is natural or naturally derived does not mean it can have no harmful side effects (many poisonous substances produced by plants are natural). It is therefore important to purchase supplements from trustworthy, reputable sources, ideally from within the US. Look for companies that have been reviewed by independent organizations; such as NSF International or ConsumerLab.com. These additional qualifications do not guarantee quality or safety, but they definitely help us weed out poorly manufactured products.
- Will they work?
- Some companies use vague, unsupported claims that supplements can “improve longevity” or “increase vitality”. You should look for additional sources of information on a supplement’s active ingredient, instead of solely relying on the company’s claims. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is a useful resource for information of the safety and efficacy of common herbal supplements.
Nature’s Way Herbal Supplements
Nature’s Way has been manufacturing herbal health products since 1968. Today, they offer over 500 nutritional products; such as herbal extracts, homeopathic remedies, vitamins, and minerals. I was glad to hear that their products have both a non-GMO certification and a TRU-ID certification, which ensures that the herb in the product matches the herb found in nature. The company claims to rely on traditional medicine and modern science in order to formulate effective and safe products. Let’s take a look at a few of their herbal remedies.
Echinacea-Goldenseal – the immunity booster
- What it is. This supplement is a combination of Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) and goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis).
Echinacea, a plant native to the US and Canada, has been used traditionally for its immune boosting properties to aid the body in fighting off infections. Results from scientific research on the use of echinacea are mixed, but this may be due to the differences in the species or plant part of echinacea used in studies. This Nature’s Way product uses the stems, leaves, and flowers of echinacea purpurea, which have been shown to contain antiviral compounds. Furthermore, studies have shown that echinacea can prevent symptoms of the common cold following infection.
Goldenseal is also native to North America and has been used to fight off respiratory infections and colds. The research on goldenseal is sparse, however, it is known that goldenseal contains the compound berberine, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Goldenseal may also provide antimicrobial benefits thereby helping to prevent various bacterial infections.
- Whom it’s for. Echinacea and Goldenseal are likely safe for most people taken in the short term. This product may be a good option for you if you are easily susceptible to infections or if you work in a setting with an increased rate of infections like a school, airport, or hospital. You should not take Goldenseal if you are pregnant or nursing.
- Likely safe in the short term
- Immune boosting antiviral and antimicrobial effects
- Not suitable for pregnant women or children
- Long-term effects not well studied
Of course, I had to scour the Internet to see what others had to say about this product. After reading numerous reviews, mostly with a very positive opinion, I was intrigued. Many reported that the Nature’s Way Echinacea-Goldenseal product significantly reduced how often they got sick or decreased the duration of colds and infections.
Fenugreek – the stomach soother
- What it is. Fenugreek is an herb commonly used in the Middle East and India. Traditionally, it has been used to sooth various stomach ailments or painful menstrual periods. According to WebMD, Fenugreek may also prevent acid reflux and, due to its high fiber content, alleviate constipation. Recent research has shown its ability to lower cholesterol and blood sugar and is therefore sometimes considered for use in diabetic patients. Fenugreek contains galactagogues, which may increase breast milk production in lactating females.
- Whom it’s for. Fenugreek is generally considered safe for most people. This might be something to consider if you suffer from an easily upset stomach with symptoms of heartburn. Fenugreek may also be an option for individuals with diabetes Type 2, however you should discuss this thoroughly with your doctor before taking the supplement. If consumed in high amounts, gastrointestinal discomfort; such as bloating, can occur. If you are allergic to peanuts or chickpeas, you should avoided Fenugreek because of possible allergic reactions.
- May alleviate gastrointestinal problems like acid reflux and constipation
- Shown to reduce blood sugar after a meal
- May increase breast milk production
- High doses may cause bloating or upset stomach
The online reviews for the Fenugreek product were also very positive. Interestingly, the majority of reviewers took Fenugreek to increase breast milk production and many reported outstanding results. A few individuals also commented on Fenugreeks ability to lower blood sugar. A few users did report gastrointestinal side effects; such as bloating and excess gas, although this did not seem to occur in all individuals.
Rhodiola – the performance promoter
- What it is. Rhodiola is a plant found in the Arctic and other colder regions of the world. Historically, it has been used to increase stamina, prevent fatigue, and enhance mental capacity. Researchers have labeled it an “adaptogen”, a substance that increases the body’s resistance to various stressors and have demonstrated its adaptogenic, stimulating and even anti-depressant properties. Interestingly, some researchers have even shown Rhodiola to decrease anxiety symptoms in individuals with generalized anxiety disorder.
- Whom it’s for. Rhodiola rosea is generally considered safe for consumption in the short term, but long term research on the benefits and safety of the supplement are currently lacking. WebMD lists no current interactions between Rhodiola and other medications. You might consider taking this supplement if you suffer from fatigue, low stamina, or mild symptoms of anxiety.
- May enhance physical and mental performance
- May alleviate symptoms of anxiety/depression
- No known interactions
- Extensive research on safety/effects is lacking
Although some online reviewers of Nature’s Way Rhodiola didn’t see much change, many reported positive effects on their mental health as well as increased energy. Few side effects were mentioned, although a few reviewers mentioned getting headaches after taking this supplement.
For thousands of years, people have utilized the medicinal power of herbs to improve health and wellbeing. Today, we often rely heavily on prescription strength medications without even considering herbal remedies. These Nature’s Way supplements may help to alleviate certain health conditions without the need for prescription medications or other treatments. Many studies have shown healing properties of the above three supplements and many personal testimonials support these claims. Of course, you should always research the risks and potential contraindications of a supplement and discuss any concerns with your doctor.