Popular Herbs in the United States

woman buying supplements
BSIP/UIG/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States report taking an herbal supplement. A survey identified the most commonly used herbs and the percent of the population that uses them, based on estimates from the 2002 National Health Interview Study:

  1. Echinacea - 7%
  2. Ginseng - 4.2%
  3. Gingko biloba - 3.7%
  4. Garlic - 3.4%
  5. St. John's wort - 2.1%
  6. Peppermint - 2.1%
  7. Ginger - 1.8%
  8. Soy - 1.7%
  9. Chamomile - 1.5%
  10. Kava kava - 1.2%

Other research has identified the most commonly used supplements among certain sub-groups:

  • An intake survey of 146 hepatocellular carcinoma patients conducted between 2008 and 2012 revealed that 71% had used vitamins and 45% had used supplements. The most commonly used supplements were antioxidants (51%), multivitamins (46%), vitamin D (25%), and milk thistle (23%). Hepatitis C patients were more likely to use milk thistle and people with hepatitis B were more likely to use vitamin C.
  • A study examining the results from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey found that children in the United States appear to use herbs or dietary supplements at a much lower rate than adults. Echinacea and fish oil were the most commonly used herbs and supplements among children.
  • A survey of adult dental patients at a dental school clinic in the United States found that out of 1,240 participants, 12.6% reported using one or more herbal products, with the top five used being green tea, garlic, echinacea, ginkgo biloba, and ginseng. 
  • A 2014 review examined herbal product use by older adults and found that the most commonly used herbs were ginkgo biloba, garlic, ginseng, aloe vera, chamomile, spearmint, and ginger. Gingko biloba and garlic were the most commonly used among community-dwelling older adults.
  • A literature review of supplements used in dermatology (using the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey) found that the most popular supplements were fish oil, glucosamine, glucosamine chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids.

A Word From Verywell

It's crucial to talk with your doctor before trying any form of alternative medicine. Many popular herbs and supplements can interact with prescription and non-prescription medications and have other potential adverse effects. Yet according to a study published in the American Journal of Medical Sciences, 47.6% of people who use complementary and alternative medicine did so without informing their doctors.

Was this page helpful?

Article Sources

  • Abebe W, Herman W, Konzelman J. Herbal supplement use among adult dental patients in a USA dental school clinic: prevalence, patient demographics, and clinical implications. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2011 Mar;111(3):320-5. doi: 10.1016/j.tripleo.2010.10.012. Epub 2011 Jan 7.
  • Bent S. Herbal medicine in the United States: review of efficacy, safety, and regulation: grand rounds at University of California, San Francisco Medical Center. J Gen Intern Med. 2008 Jun;23(6):854-9. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0632-y. Epub 2008 Apr 16.
  • de Souza Silva JE1, Santos Souza CA1, da Silva TB1, Gomes IA1, Brito Gde C1, de Souza Araújo AA, de Lyra-Júnior DP, da Silva WB, da Silva FA.  Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2014 Sep-Oct;59(2):227-33. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2014.06.002. Epub 2014 Jul 9.
  • Landis ET, Davis SA, Feldman SR, Taylor S. Complementary and alternative medicine use in dermatology in the United States.  J Altern Complement Med. 2014 May;20(5):392-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2013.0327. Epub 2014 Feb 11.
  • Lee V, Goyal A, Hsu CC, Jacobson JS, Rodriguez RD, Siegel AB.  Dietary supplement use among patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.  Integr Cancer Ther. 2015 Jan;14(1):35-41. doi: 10.1177/1534735414550038. Epub 2014 Sep 15.
  • Stys T, Stys A, Kelly P, Lawson W. Use of herbal medicines by elderly patients: A systematic review.Clin Cardiol. 2004 Feb;27(2):87-90.  Trends in use of herbal and nutritional supplements in cardiovascular patients.
  • Wu CH, Wang CC, Kennedy J.  The prevalence of herb and dietary supplement use among children and adolescents in the United States: Results from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey.  Complement Ther Med. 2013 Aug;21(4):358-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.05.001. Epub 2013 May 29.