What Are Botanical Supplements?

by Melissa Chichester

Valerian root. Cranberry. St. John’s Wort. 

What these three plants have in common is that they are all botanical dietary supplements. Recently, botanical supplements have grown in popularity for their helpful benefits. 

The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements defines botanicals as “a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal or therapeutic properties, flavor, and/or scent.” This includes flowers, stems, leaves, roots, and extracts. 

How botanicals are prepared 

Botanical supplements are sold in several forms. This includes tablets, capsules, softgels, liquids, teas, and powders. These preparations may include several parts of the plant or beneficial phytochemicals that has been extracted from the plant. The standardization process helps ensure quality control and consistency during manufacturing. 

What’s the difference between herbs and botanicals? 

If you think botanicals sound a lot like herbs, you’re right. Herbs are considered a subgroup of botanicals, which is why you may see botanical products labeled as herbal products, botanicals, or phytonutrients. However, when strictly looking at taxonomy – the scientific classification of plants – herbs refers to parts of the plant that grow above ground. This includes leaves, flowers, and stems. Botanical also refers to the system of naming and studying plants.

Commercially, herbals and botanicals are frequently interchanged. Johns Hopkins Medicine states that “A product made from plants and used solely for internal use is called an herbal supplement.” 

Notable botanical supplements

Botanical supplements are preparations that fall under the FDA’s dietary supplement definition of “a product taken by mouth that contains a dietary ingredient intended to supplement the diet.” This means that supplements provide support on top of a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle. 

Botanical Sleep

Botanical Sleep is made with three soothing plants to help promote sound sleep: valerian, passionflower, and hops.**

Valerian root has natural sleep-inducing properties with use dating back more than 2000 years. It has been traditionally used for relaxation and occasional sleeplessness since the late 18th and 19th centuries.**

Passionflower is a perennial creeping vine that has been used for its soothing and calming properties dating back to the ancient Aztecs.**

Lastly, hops are flowers that have a long history of use throughout Europe.

The 100% drug-free botanical supplement helps promote sound sleep and does not contain melatonin.**

For occasional sleeplessness.**

Valerian root 

Although it is sometimes combined with other plants, valerian root is also a standalone supplement. It is a calming aid that has been traditionally used to help promote relaxation, dating back to traditional greek medicine.** 

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort naturally contains flavonoids, which contribute to its positive effects. It helps to promote a positive mood, so you can be at your tranquil best.** It also helps to promote a healthy emotional outlook and supports a relaxed mental state.**

>>The Mystical Past of St. John’s Wort and Its Benefits

close up of olive leaves with water droplets botanical supplements

Olive leaf 

Olive leaves have been used for overall well-being for thousands of years by people in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.** Olive leaf contains oleuropein, a polyphenolic compound found in plants. 

Green tea

Green tea is a nutritional staple in Japan where it has been used for centuries. Green tea contains beneficial flavonoids that provide antioxidant support and health-supporting properties.**

Noni

The Noni plant (Morinda citrifolia) flourishes in the rich, volcanic soil of Hawaii, where it has been part of island tradition for thousands of years. Throughout history, Hawaiian medicine men, or Kahuna, have found many uses for this ancient botanical, which is still prized today for its many natural properties.** 

Black cohosh

Black cohosh is a flowering perennial plant native to eastern North America. The roots and rhizomes were traditionally used for support by Native Americans. Black cohosh has been traditionally used to provide support for menopausal health and to help support the physical changes that occur in a woman’s body over time.**

Burdock root

Burdock root’s botanical name is Arctium lappa. It is a fibrous, stalky vegetable that’s native to Asia and northern Europe. In Japan, it’s commonly braised and made into a tasty dish. In the United Kingdom, it is used in some teas. The root has a long history of use in traditional health practices and has been linked to wellness.** Burdock root contains natural flavonoids, including quercetin. The roots, leaves, and seeds are all useful parts of the plant, but supplements are typically made out of the root. 

Botanical supplements are growing in popularity right now and may be interchangeably referenced as herbs. No matter what the label says, one thing we can know for sure is the natural world is abundant with supportive plants that have many benefits. However, it is important to discuss taking any new supplements with your personal healthcare practitioner.