Who says money doesn't grow on trees? The herbal products industry might tend to disagree. As consumer acceptance of natural treatments pushes sales of herbal supplements through the roof, this alternative-therapy market just keeps spreading into the mainstream. Wal-Mart and Bayer Corp. have launched their own herbal supplement lines, physicians are recommending herbal supplements as inexpensive alternative remedies, and even kids and pets are receiving herbal treatments. "This is coming from the consumer," says Mark Blumenthal, founder of the American Botanical Council. "It's not like one day the medical profession woke up and smelled the herbal tea and realized there were some gentle, safe, well-researched, low-cost herbal medicines available."
So what are the newest trends in this ever-hot industry? Maureen Rogers, director of the Herb Growing and Marketing Network, points to herbal pet treatments, specialty remedies for women and kids, kava kava and St. John's wort. Rogers says the herbs to watch for are Chinese, Indian and South American herbs, as well as the cultivation of nearly extinct or endangered herbs usually harvested in the wild, like goldenseal, ginseng and slippery elm.