Herbal Supplement Statistics

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By Rebekah Pierce

Reviewed by Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN - Last Updated

herbal supplement statistics

Have you ever been in a health food store and wondered, “Just how popular are these herbal supplements?” Well, the answer might surprise you. 

Herbal supplement sales have skyrocketed over the past decade, making them one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the herbal supplement statistics that will blow your mind! 

How Much is the Herbal Supplement Industry Worth?

The value of the herbal supplement industry has grown exponentially, with a projected worth of USD 70 billion in 2020 and a staggering prediction that it could reach up to USD 124 billion by 2028. 

This represents a CAGR of 6.5% from 2021 to 2028, which emphasizes the increasing popularity and demand for these products due to their purported health benefits. 

More and more people are discovering for themselves the power that natural supplements can have on their overall wellness, driving this industry’s growth even further.

However, are they safe? The answer is yes…and no. It’s complicated! Below, we’ll take a closer look at some interesting herbal supplement industry statistics so you can decide for yourself if taking an herbal supplement is right for you. 

Herbal Supplement Industry Statistics – Highlights

  • More than one-third of all Americans take some form of supplement, many of which are herbal supplements.
  • Though many herbal supplements are safe for general use with minimal side effects, as some, like St. John’s wort, are known to make certain medications less effective.
  • Consumers in the US spent $1.659 billion more on herbal supplemetns in 2020 than in 2019. 
  • Elderberry was the top-selling dietary supplement in 2020, with consumers spending $275,544,691 on elderberry supplements in 2020. 
  • 72% of American consumers have confidence in herbal supplements.

More than one-third of all Americans take some form of supplement, many of which are herbal supplements.

Source: CRN Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements

Herbal medicine has rapidly increased in popularity throughout the years, with many Americans now enchanted by the idea of healing themselves and their ailments using nothing but natural substances. 

herbal supplement statistics intro

Consumers are becoming more willing to supplement their daily nutrition intake and lifestyle choices with herbs that are traditionally thought to provide physical and mental health benefits. 

About 30% of adults older than the age of 65 take four or more herbal supplements.

Source: National Institutes of Health

This shows that many seniors are looking for safer and more natural ways to improve their health and supplement their traditional treatments. Taking natural herbs is an attractive option for those who may want additional health benefits without risking the potentially severe side effects of modern medications. 

Among the most common herbal supplements used by American adults are echinacea, cranberry, garlic, ginseng, and ginkgo biloba

Source: National Institutes of Health 

The use of herbal supplements is a popular choice for many American adults looking to improve their overall well-being. From immune-supporting echinacea to brain-protecting ginkgo biloba, these five herbs are some of the most widely used natural remedies over the years. 

Cranberry helps support the urinary tract and supports kidney health, garlic has antioxidant properties and helps boost immunity and digestion, ginseng is thought to have energy and stress relieving benefits, and ginkgo biloba has been known to promote cognitive processes such as memory and concentration.

Though many herbal supplements are safe for general use with minimal side effects, as some, like St. John’s wort, are known to make certain medications less effective.

Source: National Institutes of Health 

Herbal supplements are often seen as natural, alternative treatments for many different ailments. Although these supplements may seem safe due to their natural origins, it is important to be aware that the labeling on herbal products may not always be accurate or reflect all of the potential properties of the supplement. 

This caution is exemplified by St. John’s Wort, which has been known to decrease the effectiveness of certain medications when taken too close together. It is important to remember this quote and any other advice given on a supplement’s labeling and talk with a healthcare professional before beginning any treatment with a herbal product.

Direct sales of herbal supplements increased by nearly 24% in 2020 alone, more than twice the annual growth percentage it had seen in years prior. 

Source: HerbalGram

2020 was an important year for herbal supplements. Direct sales of these natural remedies increased by a staggering 24%, more than double the growth percentage seen in previous years. This clear shift in consumer behavior can be credited to the expanding awareness of the psychological and physical benefits that come with taking herbal supplements, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Consumers are now more likely to rely on herbal supplements as a naturally-derived, healthy choice when it comes to boosting their overall wellbeing. With health trends leaning toward choosing herbs over typical over-the-counter drugs, it is no surprise that direct sales have skyrocketed as more people become proactive about supplementing their good health.

Consumers in the US spent $1.659 billion more on herbal supplements in 2020 than in 2019. 

Source: HerbalGram

The convenience and accessibility of herbal supplements has led to increased consumer interest in this area of medicine. 

While herbs have been used for centuries as natural treatments, modern technology has provided an easier avenue for people wishing to purchase such medications, resulting in substantial growth in the herbal supplement market. 

The desire of many people to find relief without the need for prescription drugs appears to be one of the major factors driving sales, as more and more people are turning to herbal supplements as an alternate form of medicine. 

80% of people worldwide rely on herbal medicinal products and supplements for some part of primary healthcare.

Source: Frontiers in Pharmacology 

It is clear that herbal medicinal products and supplements are among the main forms of primary healthcare all over the world. 

herbal supplement statistics

Herbal medicine has been used for thousands of years and is still a pillar of traditional healing around the world. Even in parts of the West where pharmaceutical medicines reign supreme, more and more people are turning to natural remedies and supplements to stay healthy, with increasing acceptance from mainstream medical professionals. 

Elderberry was the top-selling dietary supplement in 2020, with consumers spending $275,544,691 on elderberry supplements in 2020. 

Source: HerbalGram

With the many dietary benefits that elderberry has to offer, it’s no wonder the natural supplement was one of 2020’s highest-selling items. Elderberries are naturally packed with antioxidants, meaning they can help support a healthy immune system and may even help reduce inflammation. 

It is a popular choice during cold months as well, as elderberry can be used to treat symptoms of the common cold and flu. Not only this, but elderberries are full of other vitamins, such as Vitamins A, B6, C, and K. 

elderberry supplements

72% of American consumers have confidence in herbal supplements.

Source: Zippia

While consumers should use caution when taking any supplement, the growing body of evidence supporting their effectiveness has been encouraging. Herbal medicine is used to support bodily functions or treat various medical conditions and includes a variety of natural ingredients from plants. 

Since different herbs contain unique concentrations of active components, it’s important to understand the potential side effects and interactions before taking any supplement. But with more research and understanding into the benefits provided by herbal supplements, public confidence has only grown stronger.

Immune health is the most common reason or second-to-most-common reason (depending on age group surveyed) for taking herbal supplements in 2020. 

Source: HerbalGram

While rigorously tested pharmaceutical drugs dominate the healthcare market, pre-made herbal remedies have seen a surge in popularity due to the perceived benefits of natural ingredients, coupled with a desire for more holistic prevention and overall well-being. 

This shift reveals people’s willingness to take control of their own health, hoping that these supplements can provide protection as our world navigates this unprecedented era.

Of the Americans who take herbal supplements, only about a third of them inform their physicians that they are doing so.

Source: American Family Physician 

Most Americans now realize that herbal supplements are a viable option for improving their health, yet a concerning amount fail to tell their physicians about it.

It is important for people to know that when complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments and therapies are used in conjunction with standard medications, it is vital for doctors to know about them so potential side effects or interactions can be avoided. 

In this sense, it behooves everyone to make sure they communicate what treatments they are using in order to stay healthy and avoid any potentially hazardous reactions. The takeaway here is simple: communicate with your physician if you’re taking herbal supplements!

In China, the use of herbal medicines represents 40% of all healthcare services.

Source: Frontiers in Pharmacology

This quote is a testament to the power of traditional medicine in China. For centuries, Chinese citizens have used herbs and other botanicals as part of their medical treatments, a practice that has continued even into the modern age.

This reliance on nature reflects the Chinese people’s commitment to the ancient system of holistic health care, with herbal medicines playing an integral role in countless successful treatments. It reminds us that traditional techniques still hold incredible value in modern times.

Sales of ashwagandha, an herb used for its stress-relieving benefits, was another top-selling herb in 2020, with sales increasing by 185.2%.

Source: HerbalGram

An adaptogen root native to India, ashwagandha helps the body naturally cope with and manage physical and mental stresses caused by our everyday lives. This increase in demand mirrors the search for additional tools to aid better mental and physical health during a difficult year. 

Between 40 and 60% of all American adults with chronic diseases take dietary supplements, with 20 to 25% using them concurrently with prescription medications. 

Source: American Family Physician 

This means that over half of adults are using some form of dietary therapy, which is quite concerning due to the fact that dietary supplements are not regulated. Their effectiveness and safety can’t be guaranteed. 

Furthermore, there is potential for serious complications when taken in addition to prescription drugs due to interactions or overdoses. It seems wise to only take dietary supplements after consulting with a doctor or other healthcare professional.

Mainstream ACV supplements that were marketed for their benefits to cleanse and detox (as well as other digestive health benefits) had some of the greatest overall sales increases in 2020.

Source: HerbalGram

As explained by some consumers, these products helped them to cleanse and detox their bodies, as well as promote better digestive health overall. 

While there have not been any mainstream scientific studies to back up this claim just yet, a lot of people swear by the effects of taking these supplements, which likely contributed to their success in 2020.

Among herbal supplements that experienced decreased growth in 2020 were garcinia, ivy leaf, and CBD. 

Source: HerbalGram

Despite the ongoing pandemic, 2020 was still a big year for health and wellness products. Interestingly, there were some herbal supplements whose popularity proved to be adversely affected. 

Surveys conducted during the end of the year showed sales decreased for garcinia, ivy leaf, and CBD. Many believe this is because people have shifted their focus more to immunization and overall health maintenance due to the virus. 

The herbal supplements with the highest risk of drug interactions are Goldenseal and St. John’s wort. 

Source: American Family Physician 

Understanding the potential interaction risks for herbal supplements is an important step to take in order to ensure that you make the best choice for your health. Goldenseal and St. John’s wort are two herbal supplements known for their possible serious drug interactions. 

Both of these alternatives have the potential to interact with prescribed medications, causing unintended consequences and possible long-term health implications. In some cases, these symptoms are severe enough to require medical attention. 

Before adding a dietary supplement to your routine, discussing it with a medical professional is key to avoiding dangerous reactions between medications and natural treatments.

In a 2020 FDA analysis of 147 products advertised as containing CBD, another top-selling herbal supplement, almost all had levels of CBD that did not match the product description. 

Source: HerbalGram

This quote highlights an alarming issue in the health-supplement industry: many products are not living up to their claims. This has been illustrated by a 2020 FDA analysis of 147 products advertised as containing CBD, a popular herbal supplement. 

The results have shown that almost all of the supplements tested were found to have levels of CBD, which were lower than what was promised on the packaging. This is unacceptable and it can create serious health risks if consumers trust their product and take what’s listed without question. 

It’s important for everyone to be aware of this issue so they can be more informed, and hopefully protect themselves from subpar products and possible health hazards.

Final Thoughts

Herbal supplements are clearly here to stay as evidenced by these statistics showing incredible growth across multiple categories within this industry over recent years. 

Whether you’re looking to improve your overall health or trying to find relief from specific physical or mental ailments, there’s no doubt that exploring natural alternatives like herbs or nutritional supplements could be beneficial – so why not talk to your doctor about whether taking herbal supplements is right for you?

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Rebekah Pierce

Rebekah Pierce is a professional writer specializing in a variety of niches, including health and fitness. Her unique blend of experience managing and owning a regenerative farm, along with a background working in both secondary and higher education, gives her the versatility needed to write about a variety of topics. She has a B.A. in English and a M.S.Ed. in Special Education. She's an avid runner, having completed multiple marathons and half marathons, and believes in the profound power of overall health, wellness, and good nutrition when it comes to changing lives!