I am taking several courses this semester and one of the most interesting right now is Medicinal Botany. Learning about different plants and the effect that they have on the human body is fascinating! In class, we were told that over 80% of the world's population uses herbal medicine for part of their primary healthcare. It is a $34 billion per year industry!
One of the things that really caught my attention was how herbal medicines / supplements can interact with other things you take including medicines. For example, St. John's wort can actually cause your body to metabolize certain medications faster which can make them less effective.
Certain plants or plant derivatives, in general, can even affect medications that you might be taking. Compounds found in grapefruit juice have been found to inhibit CYP3A4 in the intestine which cause increase the amount of a medication in your body because it is not being broken down which could lead to a possible overdose!
Another point to consider is how regulated (or not) supplements are. The amount of the compounds from the plant can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer or even from different batches made by the same manufacturer!
Therefore, it is important to do your research if you make the decision to take herbal supplements. I think that, if properly researched, certain supplements could be beneficial to living a healthy lifestyle.