Taking nutritional supplements is part of self-care. A study of dietary supplements found that 52 percent of adults used one or more supplement.

As a massage therapist you are dedicated to helping your clients’ bodies relax, heal and recharge.

It’s equally important you do the same for yourself. A healthy diet, plenty of sleep, hydration and exercise are at the core of self-care for everyone, including therapists.

For many people, taking nutritional supplements is also part of self-care. A study of adult usage of dietary supplements released in JAMA in October 2016 found that 52 percent of adults used one or more supplements in 2012 and, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, they spent an estimated $36.7 billion a year on them in 2014, the latest year for which statistics are available.

While it is always best to talk to your health care provider about which supplements are best for you before you start taking them, here are some to consider along with their intended health benefits.

Reduce Inflammation

Functional Remedies’ Clarify Reserve Hemp Capsules may be taken internally or applied topically to reduce inflammation, says the company’s market manager, Alicia Whitt. The capsules may also aid in reducing anxiety and tension by balancing the body’s nervous system.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the main ingredient. It, along with other cannabinoids, work with the brain’s CB1 receptors and the immune system’s CB2 receptors, which influence inflammation.

CB1 and CB2 receptors are part of the body’s endocannabinoid system, a biological system responsible, in part, for how cannabis impacts and interacts with the body.

CB1 receptors, primarily found in the brain, influence pain, memory, emotional processing and appetite. CB2 receptors play a role in reducing inflammation as part of the body’s immune response.

All ingredients are sourced in the U.S. and are mostly organic, Whitt said.

“Functional Remedies is very unique in that we are 100 percent vertically integrated, so we are in complete control from our seeds and genetics to our outdoor organic farm where we grow our industrial hemp.”

The company harvests the hemp and processes it in its laboratory, where all products are made by lipid infusion.

In the lipid infusion process, the company’s CB Complex is blended with a coconut oil base, which, in itself, is also an anti-inflammatory and provides good essential fatty acids, Whitt said.

Additionally, all the phytonutrients in the industrial hemp are infused, resulting in more terpenes and other cannabinoids, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols and flavonoids that are often lost using chemical extraction processes.

Sleep Deeply

TruZen capsules support healthy sleep patterns and decreased anxiety, stress and tension, uplift mood and aid in appetite suppression, say TruGen3’s co-founders, S. Michael Lioon and L. Douglas Lioon.

Anecdotal reports, they say, also have shown TruZen to be without the negative side effects some users experience with pharmaceutical drugs, such as being habit forming and causing a hangover-like feeling the next morning.

TruZen contains one active ingredient, Sebrium DCD, which is derived from a South African succulent plant, sceletium tortuosum, also known as Kanna, Channa or Kougoed.

According to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the plant was chewed by South African hunter-gatherers for hundreds of years “for the relief of thirst and hunger, to combat fatigue, as medicines, and for social and spiritual purposes.”

For fast absorption by the body, TruZen is delivered in vegetarian liquid-filled capsules. TruGen3 uses a patented, supercritical (i.e., fluid) CO2 extraction process that yields a high concentration of the extract.

All TruGen3’s products are manufactured in a current good manufacturing practices (CGMP), NSF-certified facility in the U.S., said the Lioons.

To further ensure high quality and safe products, the company maintains ISO 17025 certification (the standard most labs must attain in order to be considered technically competent) and master manufacturing records and certificates of analysis for each production lot.

Boost Immune Function

Standard Process’s Black Currant Seed Oil supports healthy inflammatory response function, said Sara Le Brun-Blashka, the company’s director of education and practitioner engagement. The fruit of black currants, a plant native to central and northern Europe and Siberia, has been traditionally used in foods and sauces and is high in antioxidants.

Black currant seeds are a natural source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), she said, which supports immune function. Besides black currant seeds, GLA is found in breast milk.

In addition to supporting the immune system, GLA has been shown to support tissue repair and blood flow and helps maintains a healthy level of moisture in the skin by supporting its function as a water-loss barrier.

Standard Process produces its Black Currant Seed Oil in its Palmyra, Wisconsin, plant where each product is subject to repeated testing at various stages of each batch, Le Brun-Blashka said. “On average,” she added, “a batch is tested six times.” The company follows good manufacturing practices and is NSF-certified.

Get Out of Pain

Many people know turmeric, a member of the ginger family, as a spice frequently used in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, but it also has a long history of usage in traditional medicines to treat issues such as indigestion, and, applied topically, to cleanse wounds or treat skin sores.

Turmeric may help maintain normal levels of COX-2, an enzyme known to cause inflammation and pain, said Jennifer Uland, the creative director of NuAxon Bioscience, the parent company of Rebel Herbs.

The spice, she said, also may support superoxide dismutase, a free radical-fighting enzyme found naturally in the body.

Rebel Herbs’ Turmeric Holistic Extract Powder is created from a lypophyllic extraction of the spice’s turmerone, a component of its oil, and a hydrophyllic extraction of curcumin, its principal compound. “This process makes the curcumin more bio-available and it enhances the benefit of the entire herb,” said Uland.

The company makes its products from herbs and spices that come from its own certified organic farms in India or are purchased for a fair price from the certified organic farms cooperative that the company helped create and finance, she said.

“In this way we can ensure that the products are made from the best plants in the world.”

All the company’s products are manufactured in the U.S. in peanut- and soy-free facilities inspected by the FDA, she said. The company regularly tests for heavy metals, does third-party testing in the U.S. and has in-house quality assurance and quality control departments at its facilities in India.

Find Balance

Many of the herbs used in Royal Ginseng Energy Formula, such as ginseng and astragalus root, are known as adaptogens, said Robert Sawinski, Jadiance Herbal Formulas’ CEO and president. Adaptogens are a class of plants believed to balance the immune and endocrine systems and help the body fight stress.

“They are found to be safe for all conditions and come with numerous qualities, such as having a high abundance of antioxidants, the ability to help the body enhance protein production, and the ability to rejuvenate damaged muscle tissue,” Sawinski said.

“They help the body cope with external and internal stress,” he added, and “(t)hey can help increase physical endurance and mental alertness, maintain energy throughout the day, reduce stress, provide a deep and restful sleep, and significantly enhance the recovery process after strained physical activity and illness.”

Jadiance sources its ingredients for its Royal Ginseng Energy Formula from many parts of the world, Sawinski said, but mostly from South Korea and other parts of East Asia.

The raw herbs are formulated, and in most cases, boiled in a stainless steel kettle, which is a traditional way to process herbal extracts, he said. The extracts are then bottled straight from the kettle or blended with other natural ingredients. Each formula has at least 25 percent active herbal ingredients.

The company adheres to good manufacturing practices.

Chill Out

Formula 303 from Dee Cee Laboratories contains three natural ingredients: valerian root, passion flower and magnesium.

Valerian root has been used for centuries to calm upset nerves and for treating mood problems, pain and headache. Today, homeopaths and herbalists use valerian root for its antispasmodic, calmative, tranquilizing, carminative and pain-relieving effects.

Passion flower is used primarily as a sedative to combat excess nervousness and anxiety, to tranquilize and promote sleep, and as an anodyne, anti-spasmodic and anti-convulsant to treat dysmenorrhea and muscle cramps.

Magnesium is one of the most important essential minerals to promote proper nerve function. Magnesium is a key element in the stabilization of nerve cells, without which the nerves would be in a constant state of excitation.

According to Dee Cee Laboratories’ website, Formula 303 has been effective for relieving muscle spasms, pulled muscles, tight muscles, leg cramps, backaches and back sprains, PMS and menstrual cramps, tension and stress, and nervousness.

Dee Cee Laboratories manufactures most of its products in-house without any chemicals or preservatives used in the manufacturing process. Its manufacturing and packaging facility is registered with and inspected by the FDA, and the company’s products are manufactured under good manufacturing practices.

Accelerate Recovery

Colostrum, a form of milk produced by the mammary glands of mammals (that means humans, too) during pregnancy, has a whole range of benefits says Douglas Wyatt, founder of Sovereign Laboratories.

Taken internally or applied topically, it may accelerate recovery from injury, reduce inflammation and the pain caused by inflammation, help to build and maintain lean muscle, aid the body in ridding itself of excess body fat, reduce or eliminate food allergies and lower blood glucose levels.

But maybe its most important benefit is that it aids in supporting a healthy gastrointestinal system, Wyatt said.

“Leaky gut syndrome, i.e., permeability or permeation, of the gut allows toxins to enter the blood stream, and this is the primary cause of disease of every type, including every form of mental disease,” he said.

“Inflammation is the result of those toxins coming into the body. Colostrum LD heals and prevents leaky gut syndrome and brings inflammation into the body back into normal ranges, so we’re eliminating pain.

The company works with dairy farms in California, Arizona and New Mexico to get its colostrum from pasture-fed, Grade-A dairy cows certified to be healthy, antibiotic-free and free of the growth hormone BST and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as mad cow disease).

For its Colostrum LD, Sovereign Laboratories uses a proprietary, in-house liposomal delivery system. “Without the liposomal delivery then the colostrum just gets digested. It’s nothing more than drinking milk (so) it would provide no other benefit,” Wyatt said.

“We are the only company that produces this at what we would call a standardized, pharmaceutical-type grade,” he added. “That means every batch of colostrum that we do, we test for all of the major biological components by percentage and bioactivity so we know that every batch is going to perform the same as the last batch you got.”

The company adheres to good manufacturing practices, is orthodox kosher- and halal-certified, and is certified by SGS (formerly Société Générale de Surveillance), which means its colostrum is accepted in every country in the world, Wyatt said.

Check with Your GP

Dietary supplements can be an important part of your self-care regimen, but it’s vital that you be smart about taking them. The benefits of supplements can be negated if you overuse them, for instance. So, talk to your health care provider about which supplements you should take, and how much you should take. And make sure to do your own homework.

Check out the manufacturer and learn about their processes and procedures, and use reliable resources, such as the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements to learn about supplements and their benefits.

Editor’s note: This article is not meant to serve as a replacement for medical advice.

About the Author

Stephanie Bouchard is a freelance writer and editor based on the coast of Maine. She frequently reports news and features for MASSAGE Magazine, and her articles include “Software Engineer Turned MT Shares the Secrets of Corporate Massage Success” and “Express Your Tug-of-War Champion at Camp for Adults.