Are herbal supplements formulated by herbalists?

Very few herbal supplements marketed and sold by health food stores and sales companies are formulated by qualified medical or traditional herbalists. Most companies hire biologists, chemists and nutritionists or even PhDs to do the job.

Many products are formulated by PhDs (Doctors of Philosophy) and chemists with little or no clinical training and experiences (i.e they don’t see patients; is arm chair analysis). Products are usually formulated based on market demand, cost of materials and marketing appeal. You may find products with litany of herbs (sometimes more than 20) put together to impress the consumer. Ask any properly trained herbalist and it will be considered a joke. I came across a product with a liver herb as the main ingredient. The instruction written is to take it after meal. But we all know that the herb should be taken before bed for effectiveness.

The formulas concocted by traditional herbalists proceed from a different model. For example in formulating the herbal tea Phytocel, I need to take into consideration the action of the herbs (example the organs’ affinities), energies of the herbs (is it too cooling, warming or hot), the synergies of the herb actions, the nutritional content etc.

Health issues are manifestations of imbalance in body, mind and spirit. The underlying cause need to be addressed and herbs need to be taken in a holistic context. Unfortunately majority of people want a quick fix. They don’t want to address the underlying problem.

Many people asked me which herbal supplement is good for headache or sleep or… but the correct question should be – how can I treat and prevent this condition?


About sliew

I am a practicing Medical herbalist and doctor of naturopathy from Singapore.
This entry was posted in Naturopathy, Phytotherapy. Bookmark the permalink.

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