Herb Supplements Are an Important Complementary Form of Medicine in the United States


Per a report that will be published today by the National Health Care Surveys (NHCS), nearly 18% of Americans took herbal supplements in 2012, making them the most common form of complementary medicine in the U.S. besides vitamins.

The report also shows that a large percentage of those who consume herbal supplements do so following a visit to a chiropractor, a yoga session, or a massage. People in the West and Midwest more commonly use complementary medicine, but there is no evidence as to why it differs throughout U.S. regions.

The greatest use of herbal supplements (and other non-vitamin complementary medicines) is in the Mountain region (consisting of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado) in which 28.7% of adults said they consumed such supplements. There are a variety of herbal supplements, with the most common including: Black Cohosh, Echinacea, Evening Primrose, Feverfew, Garlic, Gingko Bilboa, Ginseng, Goldenseal, Green Tea, Hawthorn, Saw Palmetteo, and St. John’s Wort. You can read more about them on this University of Chicago Medicine webpage.

The trend was similar among those in the Pacific region. A total of 23% of adults said they used supplements and that could be relative to the statistic that 12% of adults in the Pacific region also practiced yoga. Additionally, 23% of adults in the central northern U.S. – North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri – consumed herbal supplements and 16.4% sought treatment from a chiropractor or osteopathic doctor.

The south comprised the lowest statistics among all of these categories: 6% visited a chiropractor or osteopathic doctor, 5% participated in yoga, and it was also the region with the lowest consumption of complementary medicine. The researchers believe that the regional differences are associate with cultural, economic, and environmental factors, but it’s not for certain.


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