| Wed, Oct 22, 2014 @ 09:00 AM

Culinary Herbs vs Herbal Supplements

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

herbs and spicesCooking with herbs and spices in their culinary form add flavor and depth to most dishes. Some culinary herbs and spices may even have medicinal properties. But did you know that certain herbal supplements can have a negative effect on some medical conditions and interact with certain medications?

Culinary Herbs

Culinary herbs and spices are delicious. Some are warm, some are sweet, and some are tangy. Using culinary herbs and spices may even be good for you. Health-conscious cooks will often use herbs to replace some of the fat and sodium in certain recipes, making the whole dish healthier—and tastier. Some herbs and spices contain vitamins and minerals as well.

  • Basil contains magnesium. It may have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial characteristics.
  • Cayenne pepper contains vitamin A. It may reduce pain and cholesterol.
  • Cilantro contains fiber, iron and disease-fighting phytonutrients.
  • Dill contains iron and calcium. Dill oil may help neutralize carcinogens.
  • Parsley contains vitamins K, C and A, and heart-healthy folate.
  • Rosemary contains fiber, iron, and calcium. It may also increase circulation and improve digestion.
  • Sage contains acids that function as antioxidants. It may help improve memory.
  • Thyme contains vitamin K. It may help protect cell membranes.
  • Turmeric contains manganese, iron and vitamin B6. It may help relieve arthritis pain.

Herbal Supplements

According to NIH Senior Health, an herbal supplement may contain dozens of compounds and all of its ingredients may not be known. For most herbs, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to show whether they are safe. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has warned the public that some products marketed as dietary supplements contain illegal and potentially harmful ingredients, such as prescription drugs and related substances.

St. John’s wort is one example of an herbal supplement that can interact with a variety of prescription drugs, sometimes making the drugs less effective. Many other herbs, including garlic, ginkgo, and valerian, may interact with:

  • anticoagulants (blood thinners)
  • antidepressants
  • sedatives
  • drugs that prevent transplanted organs from being rejected
  • drugs used to treat diabetes or cancer

It is recommended that you talk to your doctor if you are concerned about herb and drug interactions, particularity if you have a chronic health condition or are taking any medications. Bring a list of all your medications and herbal supplements to your doctor’s appointments and your annual Medicare Wellness Visit, covered under Medicare Part B.

For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.


11 Herbs Every Cook Should Use: Get healthy recipes using common herbs—


Herbs and Medical Conditions Learn how certain herbs may interact with medical conditions and medications—NIH Senior Health

Most Patients Don’t Tell Their Doctors They Take Supplements: AARP.org


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