What makes certain natural herbs popular? The most obvious answer is their effectiveness in supporting health. Other factors include availability, culinary and ornamental appeal. Here are just some of the natural supplements that meet common criteria for popularity. You’ll find them among our 100% alcohol-free liquid herbal supplements, in our single-herb supplements section.
1. Burdock Root
Availability poses no problem for burdock root, with farmers cursing this prolific pasture weed for attaching their burrs on livestock. The plant, however, has a solid reputation among herbalist. In ancient Roman civilizations, it used to help with venomous snakebite. Medieval herbalists also administered to assist with mild joint pain. In Japan, where the parsnip-like root enhances stir-fries, burdock is considered an aphrodisiac. Since arriving in the New World (after the burrs hitched a ride on animals brought along by European settlers), burdock has been the subject of medical studies validating its detoxifying properties.
Elder has been popular ever since ancient Egyptians cultivated it for the tastiness of the sweet-tart berries. The shrub acquired a mystique in medieval Europe, where people often carried an elder twig for protection. They weren’t necessarily wrong, because the fruit contains properties that supports human health: anthocyanins and other compounds having powerful immune support powers. A robust immune booster, elderberry is also pretty, with white flower clusters in spring, black/purple berries in summer and purplish foliage in fall.
3. Ginkgo Leaf
Despite its widespread availability today, the ginkgo tree nearly died out millions of years ago with the rest of the Ginkgoaceae family. Extinction was the price they paid for relying on wind for pollination, instead of more efficient animal pollinators. But Paleolithic man, after discovering the tasty nut lying beneath the fruit’s stinky outer layer, began planting ginkgo nuts to secure this food source. To reward that smart move, the fan-shaped ginkgo leaf offers man compounds that just might keep him smart. Ginkgo’s reputation for supporting cognitive function is connected to its ability to improve blood flow.
4. Goldenseal Root
Ironically, goldenseal’s popularity as a immune supporting herb poses a threat to its availability, as poachers harvest wild plants in large numbers without replanting. Producing a single white flower, this low-growing woodland plant long served Indian nations along the Eastern Seaboard as a dye source and supporting the body’s natural immune system. Having powerful immune-boosting properties, the root protects the health of the respiratory system, digestive and urinary tracts.
5. Lemon Balm Leaf
Native to the Eastern Mediterranean, lemon balm thrives in many corners of the world. Introduced to Thomas Jefferson’s gardens in the 18th century, lemon balm enjoys a reputation as a hardy, aromatic border plant. Apiarists appreciate its food value for honeybees. Chefs use it to flavor everything from candy to pesto. As an herbal supplement, lemon balm claims a 2,000-year history, during which it has calmed stomachs, boosted moods and soothed mild anxiety. Valued primarily as a nervine today, lemon balm may also support cognitive function and balance cholesterol levels.