Natural Medicine Sales in 2019
Updated | 2020-12-04
Reviewed by the NatureClaim Team
In the United States, the sale of natural medicines, specifically herbal medicines, reached a record high of 9.60 billion USD in 2019. Even though in 2014 and 2015 there were numerous negative media reports on natural medicines (such as Dr. Mehmet Oz's Senate Hearing, New York Attorney General's Supplement Investigation, and others), the growth trajectory of herbal medicine sales has been strong (see the figure above) increasing 38.7% since 2015.
The top 5 selling herbal medicines in the mainstream channels (i.e., Costco, Walmart, etc.) include:
Horehound remains the most popular herb sold in the mainstream channel. From 2018, the sale of horehound and Echinacea increased 4.2% and 4.9%, respectively. These herbs remain popular because of their medicinal properties in treating cold and flu symptoms. Horehound, in fact, is an ingredient commonly found in cough drops and lozenges. With an increase of 110.8%, elderberry has seen tremendous growth in the mainstream channel. This growth may be due to the scientific community providing evidence to support the claimed immunostimulant properties of this remedy. Turmeric/curcumin and cranberry have also grown 2.0% and 6.3%, respectively. The interest in Ayurvedic medicines have led to turmeric's rapid growth over the past four years. Cranberry remains in the top five list due to its ability to treat urinary tract infections and for its flavonoid content.
The top 5 selling herbal medicines in the natural channels (i.e., GNC, The Vitamin Shoppe, etc.) include:
- Cannabidiol (CBD)
- Wheatgrass/Barley Grass
With sales totaling about 90.72 million USD, cannabidiol (CBD) is the most popular herb sold in the natural channel. From relieving pain to reducing anxiety and stress, CBD is widely touted as a panacea. Limited research supports the claimed benefits of CBD, but there is promising evidence that it reduces anxiety. Interestingly, turmeric/curcumin sales declined 6.8% in the natural channel. This decline may be a result of consumers switching from turmeric to CBD for pain relief. Elderberry, with a 20.5% change from 2018, joined the top five list because of its claimed benefits in reducing upper respiratory tract infections. Wheatgrass/barley grass decreased nearly 10% as consumers switch to other claimed superfoods to supplement their diets. Ashwagandha, another Ayurvedic medicine of interest to consumers, has seen its sales increase 7.2%.
With this upward trend in the use and sales of herbal medicines, information about their safety, efficacy, and quality is becoming more and more important. Providing consumers with this information will build and maintain trust in the natural medicine industry.
Smith T. The supplement saga: A review of the New York Attorney General's herbal supplement investigation. HerbalGram. 2015.
Smith T, May G, Eckl V, Reynolds CM. US sales of herbal supplements increase by 8.6% in 2019. HerbalGram. 2020.
References with historical data on herbal medicine sales in the United States:
Smith T, Gillespie M, Eckl V, Reynolds CM. Herbal supplement sales in US increased by 9.4% in 2018. HerbalGram. 2019.
Smith T, Kawa K, Eckl V, Morton C, Stredney R. Herbal supplement sales in US increased 8.5% in 2017, topping $8 billion. HerbalGram. 2018.
Smith T, Kawa K, Eckl V, Morton C, Stredney R. Herbal supplement sales in US increase 7.7% in 2016. HerbalGram. 2017.
Smith T, Kawa K, Eckl V, Johnson J. Sales of herbal dietary supplements in US increased 7.5% in 2015. HerbalGram. 2016.