Question: I take it that herbs or fruit extracts that come in supplement pills, by definition are considered as having some pharmacological properties to them, correct? Can one then also speak of herbs providing some sort of nutrition to the body, meaning providing nutrients to the body, not just acting like a natural drug?
Answer: The answer is both. There are countless substances in the human body, and there are also countless substances in herbs and fruit extracts. Some of the substances in herbs act as pharmaceutical agents, similar to medications. It just happens that some herbs have substances in them that are also found in the body and act as nutritional replacement or supplementation. For instance, Goji berry extract has a high concentration of zeaxanthin, which, along with lutein, are carotenoids found in the retina of the eye. Zeaxanthin and lutein help improve vision. In this case, the zeaxanthin in goji berry is acting as a nutritional agent. Herbs also contain many vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and flavonoids which have nutritional value. These substances are used by the body for structural repair, hormone synthesis, and enzymatic activity. However, most herbs, as compared to foods, are ingested in small amounts therefore their nutritional contribution is often minimal.