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Most Popular Herbs and Supplements in the United States

The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the United States continues to expand.  This growth can easily be seen in the current use of herbs and supplements -- sales of glucosamine and chondroitin, supplements used commonly for osteoarthritis, were $288 million dollars last year, and sales of ginkgo, a herb taken to improve blood flow to the brain in conditions where blood flow is insufficient, reached $147 million dollars.

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What are these herbs and supplements being used for?  Chronic conditions that are difficult to treat or manage with conventional medicine, such as mood disorders, heart disease, arthritis, women's health conditions, and digestive disorders.

It would be interesting to know how many of these products were self-prescribed and how many were recommended by a health practitioner.  Consultation with a health practitioner before taking herbs and supplements is always recommended in order to avoid adverse side effects and drug interactions. 

Top Herbs in the United States

Herb $Millions Condition Commonly Used In
Ginkgo biloba 147 Increase brain blood flow, prevent dementia, improve memory, antioxidant
St. John's Wort 104 Mild to moderate depression
Ginseng 84 Fatigue and weakness
Garlic 77 High cholesterol
Echinacea 72 Colds and respiratory infection
Saw palmetto 45 Prostate conditions
Kava kava 18 Anxiety and stress
Soy 18 Menopause
Valerian 10 Anxiety
Evening primrose 9 Inflammation, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), menopause, immune disorders
Grape seed 8 Allergies, antioxidant
Milk thistle 8 Liver disease, protects the liver
Bilberry 6 Eye disorders
Black cohosh 6 Menopause, PMS, menstrual disorders
Pycnogenol 5 Antioxidant
Ginger 2 Nausea, poor digestion

Top Supplements in the United States

Supplement $Millions Condition Commonly Used In
Glucosamine / chondroitin 288 Osteoarthritis
CoQ-10 41 Heart disease, muscle disorders, antioxidant
Melatonin 31 Insomnia, antioxidant
Amino Acids 21 To increase muscle mass

Fish Oil / Omega fatty acid

14 High blood pressure, high cholesterol, inflammatory disease
DHEA 11 To slow conditions associated with aging
Acidophilus 11 Poor digestion, prevent bacterial overgrowth in the intestines
Lecithin 10 High cholesterol
Gelatin 8 Food supplement
Glucose 7 Food supplement, form of sugar
Shark cartilage 6 Arthritis, cancer

Note: The above are conditions for which these herbs and supplements are commonly used and do not necessarily reflect all possible uses or those supported by research. 

SOURCE: Drug Store News, May 2000


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