Botanical Dietary Supplements: What They Are and Their Uses
Plants are companions to mankind in many ways. Just as they breathe out oxygen and absorb man’s carbon dioxide, they also provide humans with plenty of medicines, foods and more to enhance their lives and keep them thriving.
From minerals in shampoo and lotions to body washes, face crèmes, and even cleaning supplies, botanicals have been used to create much needed products and foods. Botanical dietary supplements are just another way that plants are providing much needed nutrients and minerals to humans of all ages.
What Is a Botanical?
Botanical is the name for a plant or plant piece that is highly valued for its therapeutic and medicinal attributes, flavors or scents. In fact, herbs are known as a subset, or relative, of botanicals as they serve much of the same purpose. The products created from botanicals that are specifically used to increase one’s health and maintain wellness are often called botanical or herbal products, or else phytomedicines.
Botanicals can also be used for other products that may or may not be geared to maintaining and improving health. These can be anything from scented lotions and soups to hair products and deodorizers.
Since they use botanicals as some of their main ingredients, these products are often better to use for hair, skin, nails and more because they are both natural and gentle on the body while still being effective. Botanicals are used in so many products that many of the nutrients man has come to rely on come from these plants and/or plant parts.
What Are Botanical Dietary Supplements?
Much like the name implies, botanical dietary supplements are medicinal products that include botanicals for dietary needs. Many people do not get enough of the required nutrients in their everyday diets, which can make them deficient in some way.
For example if one does not eat enough leafy green vegetables, they be missing out on B-vitamins, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and more. This is where botanical dietary supplements come in. First, however, botanical dietary supplements must meet the following definitions before they can be classified as an actual dietary supplement:
• The botanical is intended to supplement a diet.
• It is intended to be consumed by mouth in the form of a tablet, pill, or liquid.
• It contains at least one of the dietary ingredients, these being vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and other substances or something similar.
• It is labeled as a dietary supplement in clear view on the packaging.
Most botanicals products meet this criterion except for tobacco. These guidelines were provided and defined by Congress in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which came into effect in 1994.
How to Add Botanical Dietary Supplements to Your Diet
Botanicals can be prepared and added to a diet easily. The most common preparations for botanicals include through extracts, decoctions, teas, and tinctures. Each of these options is meant to fulfill the guidelines of a botanical by making them easy to consume through the mouth. For most botanicals, boiling water and steeping or simmering are necessary practices to reach the desired ingredients within the botanicals.
For example, when used in a tea, also called an infusion, botanicals, whether fresh or dried, are often added to boiling water and steeped for all the nutrients to absorb into the drink. Other botanicals such as berries, barks, and roots are forced to undergo a different treatment in order to extract the necessary ingredients.
Similar to making tea, these botanicals are simmered in boiling hot water for a long time, which creates a decoction and not a tea that is drunk for its nutrients.