Herbal Infusions vs. Supplements – Which is More Cost-Effective?

Herbal Infusions vs. Supplements: Which is More Cost-Effective?

In my previous article, I wrote about how I rely on herbal infusions for whole-body wellness instead of supplements. Some people mentioned that they’re not able to wildcraft all of the herbs that I mentioned in the article and didn’t think herbal infusions would be cost-effective in comparison to just using supplements. I decided to use this post to break down the costs and do a comparison of herbs vs. supplements.

Hope this helps some of you!

How Much Do Supplements Cost?

Let’s take a look at some of the popular supplements out there…

Nature’s Plus Source of Life Prenatal Vitamin – This is actually one that I promote if you are wanting a vitamin and not herbal infusions. It is plant based, free from artificial colors, preservatives, yeast, wheat, soy, and milk. A 90 count bottle will last you for 45 days. The cheapest place I have found this supplement is at Vitacost for $18.11.

Not a bad price at all, but that is only at Vitacost that I have seen that price. At my local health food store, this product costs over $20.

The downside to these prenatals is that they are specifically formulated for women during their childbearing years. It isn’t designed for children, men, or menopausal women. However, herbal infusions can be used by the entire family – you can also alternate which herbs you use to accommodate your family’s needs.

Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil – This brand of cod liver oil is the one that I see promoted the most by health bloggers. From what I can tell, it appears to be a very high-quality brand of fermented cod liver oil, but it is costly.

Most people take fermented cod liver oil for the Omega 3’s and 6’s. While fermented cod liver oil is an excellent source for those, it certainly isn’t the only source. I get my Omega 3’s and 6’s from fatty-acid rich superfoods and herbs like purslane. Another reason people take fermented cod liver oil is for the high vitamin D content found in it. While this is certainly a bonus, especially for those who live in locations with fewer sunny days, it isn’t entirely necessary. Vitamin D can be obtained from fresh livers, sunlight, nettles, alfalfa, fatty fish, certain wild mushrooms, and dairy. All of these foods can simply be added to your grocery budget and the need for supplementation be eliminated.

For roughly a 30 day capsule supply of this brand of cod liver oil, you would spend around $29.95 on up.
I understand the benefits of fermented cod liver oil and am not trying to downplay those benefits, but I do feel that if people want to embark on a healthy life while on a tight budget, high-quality fermented cod liver oil might not be within their budget.

Probiotics – The majority of people who are health-conscious take probiotics. I choose to get my probiotics from foods, such as raw dairy and fermented foods (the costs of these foods are included in my monthly food budget, which is only $200 for my family of 4).

A popular brand of probiotics is Bio-Kult. You can purchase on Amazon (but I don’t recommend purchasing supplements from Amazon) a 2 month supply of these for $41.94. From what I have read, the Bio-Kult capsules can be opened and given to children, but I haven’t tried this myself.

The brand that I have used in the past and have liked was Nutrition Now PB8. You can purchase a 2 month supply of this brand for $8.79 on Vitacost (again, the cheapest place I have found them at)

How Much Do Herbal Infusions Cost?

(These prices are from Mountain Rose Herbs)

Nettle Leaf– 8oz for $6.25 ($11lb)

Red Raspberry Leaf – 8oz for $5.25 ($9lb)

Rose Hips – 4oz for $3 ($9.50lb)

Oatstraw – 4oz for $3 ($9.50lb)

Comfrey – 4oz for $3.50 ($10.50lb)

Mullein – 4oz for $3.50 ($10.50lb)

Yellow Dock – 4oz for $3.50 ($11lb)

Red Clover Leaf – 4oz for $3.50 ($11lb)

If you were to use these monthly the way I do, you would need: 1 oz rose hips, 1 oz mullein, 1 oz comfrey, 1 oz red clover, 4 oz oatstraw, 4 oz yellow dock, 8 oz red raspberry leaf, and 8oz nettle.

If you were to purchase enough herbs from Mountain Rose to do my method of infusions, you would spend $31.50. Plus, you would have leftovers. The upside with Mountain Rose Herbs is that if you purchase in bulk (by the pound), you actually save money in the long run. If you choose to purchase enough for a two month supply, or enough for two people, you would spend $47.25.

So Why Infusions?

Clearly there isn’t a massive price variance between infusions and supplements, but the costs of infusions can easily be lowered through wild foraging and growing your own. So why am I so adamant about using infusions over supplements? Infusions provide you with the whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals attributed to the particular plant infused. Infusions present vitamins and minerals in their absolute most natural form, which is easily absorbed by the body. Supplements are often filled with synthetic forms of vitamins and minerals, which are difficult for out bodies to absorb. Supplements also contain fillers (such as binding agents, flavoring agents, etc.) that detach from the benefits of the supplement. Also, if you eat a well rounded diet that is rich in wild foods and superfoods, as well as live a healthy lifestyle and get plenty of sun, you will likely get all of the vitamins and minerals you need in their whole and pure form.

While I certainly don’t see supplements as evil, I don’t feel that they serve a huge benefit to those who are already working with plant allies and wild foods to heal and nourish their bodies. Supplements are excellent for those who are having a difficult time obtaining certain foods and herbs, but they really shouldn’t be relied upon for long term usage.

Herbal infusions are one of the best ways to obtain a wide array of vitamins and minerals in their most natural state. Infusions also provide all of the vitamins together, so that they can work in unison and be easily absorbed by the body. Our bodies have a difficult time absorbing synthetic vitamins. It is also incredibly difficult for our bodies to absorb vitamins in a singular fashion (such as vitamin D capsules, vitamin A capsules, etc.). We are designed to consume vitamins and minerals in their most naturals forms and along with other vitamins in order to aid our bodies in easily absorbing them. Without other vitamins acting alongside the vitamin we are trying to get more of, our bodies simply will not absorb the vitamin properly. This is the basic notion behind a whole foods diet.

While supplements can be quite handy in times of need, they are certainly not always necessary. I have relied on supplements when times have been tough, but they have never been a part of my regular wellness routine. As always, consult with your primary health care professional before making a choice as to whether infusions are right for you. Also, do your own research and come to your own conclusions. It is your body, after all. Take charge and be healthy!

What’s your opinion on infusions vs. supplements? 

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