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Understanding the Difference Between Herbs and Probiotics

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Herbs and probiotics sound very similar, just like two sides of a coin, but in reality they are two different entities, completely different from each other. The one common underlying factor uniting these two entities, is that they are forms of dietary supplements, there ends the similarity. Many people believe in the health benefits these categories offer. But then, it would be a wiser thing to know exactly how they differ from each other!

Herbs

Herbs are shrubs which are primarily used in small quantities and offer a lot of health benefits. Each herb has a variety of uses. We can group herbs into two categories as follows:

  • Culinary herbs, as the name implies, these herbs are used to bring out flavor and taste in food and are used extensively as additives. They are nature’s flavoring agents, enhancing the quality of food, two most commonly used herbs are rosemary and sage, flavoring agents that bring out the substance in food. Since they are used in small quantities, they cannot be compared with vegetables. Vegetarians tend to use herbs and spices whilst cooking food, just to augment the quality of food, making it more appetizing and tastier. Spices are different from herbs, in it they are extracted from the non-leafy parts of a plant such as the root or the bark.
  • Medicinal herbs, also known as botanicals, are believed to offer health benefits, and are used for their therapeutic nature. There is a common belief amongst the masses that vitamin and mineral supplements enhance body immunity and help in protecting the body from diseases such as cancer and heart problems. In a similar vein, herbs are thought to be natural supplements offering therapeutic benefits. There are herbs which can provide medicinal and culinary benefits. For example, Ginger is a culinary herb which adds to the flavor of dishes such as soups. At the same time, Ginger is capable of relieving nausea and vomiting, has no side effects and can be used in small quantities even during pregnancy. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, it is a very safe and an effective food supplement. What we are interested is not in the culinary aspects of a herb rather, we are interested in focusing on the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of their usage. Herbal supplements can be made from one single herb or can be an amalgamation of different herbs.

Some examples of commonly used, popular herbs are given below:

  • Black cohosh
  • Echinacea
  • Feverfew
  • Gingko
  • Kava

A complete catalog of commonly used, popular herbs along with information such as their common names, properties, benefits and side effects have been listed online for easy reference by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Probiotics

There are plants, and then there are bacteria. Now, common perception is that all forms of bacteria are dangerous and are detrimental to health. But there are some forms of bacteria, which help in conditioning the body, improving health. These are the good guys, the friendly bacteria, much like Casper and are termed as probiotics.

The idea here is to introduce these microbes as supplements, either in the form of a powder or as a capsule, in our daily dietary intake, allowing them to condition the body, replenishing the stock of good bacteria that abound in our digestive system.

When you body is under siege, from unhealthy bacteria, you counter their effects by taking antibiotics. In this situation, the good ones naturally present in the intestines are undermined, and perish as a result of the medication.

You could use probiotics to restore the supply of naturally occurring microbes, heightening the functions of the intestines.Yeast and other such microbes also are categorized as probiotics. Lactobacillus bulgaricus or Streptococcus thermophilus, which might be used along with yogurt are active cultures of bacteria, which are human-friendly, and are used as supplements. For the treatment of diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome, as well as prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections, treatment of eczema in children etc, Scientist find a ray of hope in probiotis. The benefits could possibly accrue through the placebo effect. While whole foods provide the necessary probiotics, they are also available if food stores. Yogurt, soymilk and other soy products such as miso and tempeh, kefir (a drinkable form of yogurt), and fermented milk (such as buttermilk) as well as fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kimchi are probiotic storehouses. Yogurts that contain active cultures has to be purchased to get the real dose of friendly bacteria, hence make sure that the package contains the words “active cultures” or at least “probiotic” in their labels. You may also find the list of bacterial cultures in products like buttermilk.

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Source by Shaz Mkenzy

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