How can we use botanicals as dietary supplements?

Medicinal plants are a source of a wide variety of biologically active compounds. For many centuries, crude material or pure plant extracts have been used extensively for treating various disease conditions.

This blog post will provide you with some answers to questions that you may have on the topic of botanical food supplements.

What are botanicals?

Botanicals are preparations made from plants, algae, fungi or lichens (1). Typically labeled as natural or herbal products, they are widely available as food supplements. Examples include ginseng, ashwagandha and curcumin.

Are they safe to consume?

While botanicals have a long history of use in traditional medicine, some concerns exist about their safety and quality. These include the risk of chemical or microbiological contamination (1). There is also a need to ensure that the concentrations of the biologically active agents in these extracts are within safe limits.

In Europe, the food safety authority (EFSA), provides a science-based approach to establish the safe use of botanicals or derived preparations (1). It also publishes a ‘Compendium of Botanicals’ that are reported to contain naturally occurring substances of possible concern for human health when present in food (2).

In the USA, lawfully marketed botanical dietary supplements are subject to Investigational New Drug (IND) requirements (3). Thus, when a producer sticks to the established guidelines, botanicals are safe for consumption.

At PlantaCorp, we ensure that our ingredients and products are safe to consume according to established guidelines, no matter which part of the globe you are in.

Are botanicals better than multi-vitamins?

Deciding whether a vitamin or herbal supplement should be included in a person’s daily supplement list depends on many factors.

Factor 1: Diet

If an individual usually consumes a lot of grains, vegetables, and fruits, an herbal supplement may not be needed. On the other hand, if one consumes a lot of meat, liver and other animal products, protein supplements may not be needed.

It is to be noted that we use the term “may” above because it is estimated that more than 3 billion people around the world are still unable to consume a healthy diet (4). Since dietary energy requirements differ by gender and age, and for different levels of physical activity (5), supplementation with effective food supplements may still be needed.

Factor 2: Nutritional need

It may be argued that one’s choice of supplementation depends on what the end-purpose of that supplementation is. For example, anemia can effectively be treated with iron or folate supplementation.

Thus, if one is suffering from a known micronutrient deficiency, it is advisable to supplement his/her diet with the specific missing nutrient.

In other cases, botanical supplementation can help. For example, curcumin’s anti-inflammatory activities are useful in treating asthma (4).

Factor 3: Time

Some mild botanicals might need to be taken for weeks or months before their full effects are achieved (5). For example, valerian might help users sleep better after a few weeks of use. In contrast, a powerful botanical like green tea, a natural source of caffeine, can have strong and immediate stimulant effects.

The same can be said to be true of vitamin and mineral supplements depending on their dosage and form.

In general, we recommend that you always talk with your healthcare provider about any dietary supplements that you are using or are thinking of using. Follow the manufacturer’s suggested directions. Do not exceed this recommendation unless your physician directs otherwise.

Some common botanical supplements


Long recognized for its medicinal properties, turmeric has received widespread interest including from the medical/scientific world. We, ourselves, have mentioned this “most powerful spice of all” in several blog posts now. We even dedicated an entire blog post to its winter-related benefits.

Derived from the underground portion of the turmeric plant, this yellow plant pigment has potent anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and antiseptic effects (6). It also aids in the management of metabolic syndrome, anxiety and hyperlipidemia (7).

In healthy individuals, turmeric and curcumin can aid with exercise-associated performance and recovery. In addition, a relatively low dose can improve cognitive tasks and psychological stresses. Curcumin can thus help maintain the normal functioning of the eye, kidney, immune and metabolic system.

Curcumin’s multiple health benefits can be attributed to its ability to target multiple signaling molecules (7).  It also demonstrates activity at the cellular level.

Curcumin is recognized as safe by the USFDA and EFSA.  Despite this, some negative side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, headache and rashes have been reported (7).

Do consult your healthcare provider before consuming our 47-times more bioavailable liquid liposomal curcumin supplement.


Scientifically known as Withania somnifera (WSE), Ashwagandha is also commonly referred to as Indian ginseng. Ashwagandha extracts are typically made from the root and leaves of the shrub.

This herb is a purported adaptogen. This means that it can help your body adjust to physical, chemical, or biological stress (8). One way that it may do this is by reducing the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body (9).

Its calming ability, may, thus help relieve tension and help one sleep better. A 12-week clinical study also indicated that depression and anxiety symptoms were improved by adjunctive treatment with WSE (10). 

This herb whose name means “strength of a horse,” has the ability to make one feel strong, sturdy, and focused (9).  Unlike caffeine that can make you feel jittery or anxious, ashwagandha, can help you feel energized yet calm. It has also been traditionally used to improve muscle mass and increase overall strength (9).

Do you recommend liposomal ashwagandha supplementation?

The first pass effect is a phenomenon in which a drug gets metabolized at a specific location in the body (11). This results in a reduced concentration of the active drug reaching its site of action or the systemic circulation. The first‐pass metabolism of ashwagandha might be the main barrier in achieving good oral bioavailability (12). However, scientific studies have proven that the encapsulation of ashwagandha in liposomes or starch may overcome this barrier (13; 14). Its bioavailability is thus increased.  

Contact our Business Development team today to find out more about the health benefits of liposomal ashwagandha supplements. 


Quercetin is a plant-derived chemical (also known as a “phyto” chemical). It belongs to the chemical class of biologically active flavonols (15). It is presumed to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunoprotective, and even anticarcinogenic effects (16).

Quercetin is naturally found in a number of vegetables and fruits (such as onions, apples, and tea). However, your body does not necessarily absorb all of it. Humans lack the enzymes needed to metabolize certain forms of quercetin (17). As a result, there is minimal intestinal absorption.

Other problems associated with quercetin consumption include poor solubility and oral absorption.

Is dietary supplementation of quercetin a better alternative?

Scientific evidence of the use of purified quercetin derivatives dates back to 1918 (18). In these studies, purified quercetin was shown to strengthen the capillaries and provide relief to patients with genetic brain hemorrhage conditions. Subsequently, purified quercetin has been proven to have several other benefits such as being an anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer agent.

In general, the oral intake of quercetin in humans seems to be well tolerated (16). Only a very low incidence of adverse effects has been observed to date. According to the USFDA and Italian regulations, up to 200 mg high-purity quercetin supplements are safe to consume daily (16).

In spite of this, quercetin’s application, thus far, has been limited by its poor solubility, poor permeability and instability (19). Recent clinical studies using the supplementation of quercetin in the liposomal form have however, shown promise (20). Liposomal quercetin thus seems to be able to overcome all the shortcomings of the non-liposomal form.


Resveratrol is a natural phytochemical present particularly in grapes, blueberries, and peanuts (21). It is the compound that is purported to make a glass of red wine healthy.

Resveratrol has been reported to display antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, and antitumor actions (21). However, the mechanisms by which the beneficial effects of resveratrol are exerted have not yet been fully elucidated.

Why not just drink a glass of wine?

Resveratrol is fat-soluble and as such is poorly water soluble. This affects its absorption and membrane transport. Resveratrol, therefore, suffers from a low bioavailability (21).

Encapsulation offers a potential approach for enhancing resveratrol’s solubility and improving its bioavailability (21). Furthermore, the small size of our liposomes improves its physical and chemical stability, compatibility in oral dosage forms and oral bioavailability.

Is there anything I should consider before botanical supplementation?

If you have a pre-existing medical condition and/or are under specific medication, please consult your physician before taking a botanical supplement. Supplementation can interfere with certain medication and may result in adverse outcomes.

Market trend

It was estimated by the WHO that around 80% of the world population rely on medicinal plants as their primary healthcare source (22). Consumer desire for “naturally” healthy products is creating alternative growth opportunities.

Since most of the botanicals already have a strong-hold in Eastern medicine, the Asia Pacific region dominates the global sales of botanical products (23). In Italy, botanicals were valued at more than 203 million euros in 2019 alone (24).

Talk to us today and join the liposomal botanical supplements revolution!

Key takeaways

Some of our botanical supplement recommendations based on product category


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