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5 min read

Ultimate Guide to Botanicals: Benefits, Uses, Nutrition & More

Posted Mar 30, 2022 Updated Jun 28, 2024

As the use of natural, plant-based products in our everyday lives continues to increase, it’s no surprise that plant-derived botanicals are growing in popularity. You’re likely to see botanicals in more and more products you buy. They have uses in everything from supplements to skincare products to food (and of course a certain soda). So it’s worthwhile to know what they are!

Don’t worry, this guide to botanicals isn’t going to be long and boring. Learning about botanicals is fairly straightforward, although there is a lot of science behind their uses. Let's dive in...

What Are Botanicals?

Botanicals are plants used in traditional and herbal medicine to treat ailments due to their potential therapeutic properties. In other words, imagine plants being your friendly neighborhood doctors! That's what botanicals arenature's very own medicine cabinet. For thousands of years, people have turned to these green gurus for their healing powers. So, the next time you think health, think botanicalbecause they're not just plants, they're power-packed health warriors!

Humans have likely used botanicals for their healing properties for as long as we’ve existed. Archeological excavations of medicinal plants date back 60,000 years ago. We also know that one of the oldest written records on medicinal plants dates back to 1500 BCE in ancient Egypt. That's some long-standing history right there! Now, modern research is starting to build a body of evidence to support many of these historical functions.1

What Are Some Examples of Botanicals?

Throughout human history, our ancestors have used hundreds of botanicals that range from roots, bark, berries, leaves, and more. Any plant whose function is to help treat an ailment is a botanical. Today, many of these plants continue to play a healing role. 

Examples of the most commonly used botanicals include: 2,3,4,5

  • Aloe vera
  • Bamboo
  • Beetroot
  • Black Cohosh
  • Bilberry
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Cranberry
  • Dandelion
  • Echinacea
  • Elderberry
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Ginkgo
  • Ginseng
  • Green Tea Extract
  • Marshmallow root
  • Milk Thistle
  • Nettle
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Valerian

Are Botanicals Dietary Supplements?

In America, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has a fairly simple definition of dietary supplements: “products taken by mouth that contain a ‘dietary ingredient.’”6 The FDA considers dietary ingredients to include herbs or botanicals, as well as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and more. So, in short, yes, botanicals are considered dietary supplements.

What Are Some Common Uses & Benefits Of Botanicals?

People commonly use botanicals to support health and treat symptoms for the following conditions:7

  • Cardiovascular and circulatory functions
  • Digestive, gastrointestinal, and liver functions
  • Endocrine and hormonal functions
  • Genito-urinary and renal functions
  • Reproductive functions
  • Immune functions
  • Skin, muscular, and skeletal functions
  • Neurological, psychological, and behavioral functions
  • Metabolic and nutritional functions
  • Respiratory and pulmonary functions

Although botanicals target a variety of health issues, we need more research to support many of these uses. There is, however, good research to support the usage of some botanicals to maintain health. For example,8

How Are Botanicals Commonly Sold and Prepared?

Botanicals come in a wide range of forms, as both fresh and dried plant materials, capsules, whole foods, liquids, and more. You can prepare and consume botanicals whole or you can crush and dry them into a powder.

Take ginger, for example. You can find fresh ginger root, dried ginger root as tea, ginger in ginger ale, or ginger capsules in the dietary supplement aisle. Oftentimes, there is a single chemical in a botanical that has the most potent health properties. Manufacturers may isolate this chemical and sell it as a dietary supplement, usually in tablet or capsule form. For ginger, that chemical is gingerol. Research shows that gingerol has antioxidant, anti-tumor, and anti-inflammatory properties.9,10

You can also process botanicals further as a botanical extract. This occurs when you soak the botanical in a solvent that's then able to retrieve certain chemicals or beneficial parts of the plant. Different preparation methods can extract different bioactive components of the botanicals. For example, alcohol best extracts essential oils, water extracts sugar, and glycerin is a great way to extract mucilage.11

Here are a few ways to prepare a botanical extract:

  • Alcohol extraction
  • Wine extraction
  • Vinegar extraction
  • Glycerin extraction

Botanicals are often sold as:

  • Alcohol tinctures, when you soak a botanical in a solution of alcohol and water.
  • Extracts, when you soak the botanical in a liquid solvent, such as water or alcohol, to extract the desired constituents.
  • Tea, when you steep a fresh or dried botanical in hot water.
  • Infused oil, when you add a botanical to an oil to extract oil-soluble compounds.
  • Syrup, when you process a botanical into a concentrated sugary extract.
  • Salve/balm/cream, when you add botanical extracts to oil-based creams.
  • Capsules/tablets/lozenges, when you process botanical extracts into common supplement forms.

What Botanicals Are in OLIPOP?

OLIPOP isn’t your average soda. We carefully crafted OLIPOP with a blend of scientifically-backed ingredients that work together to support microbiome and digestive health. In addition to prebiotic fibers that feed your beneficial gut bacteria, our OLISmart blend features several botanicals that have been historically used to treat digestive issues. These may include:

These botanical extracts have hundreds of years of medicinal digestive health history. They also add to OLIPOP’s nutrient diversity. Research shows that diet diversity is key to a healthy gut microbiome. We hope that drinking a can of OLIPOP with our blend of prebiotic fibers and plant botanicals can help expand your diet diversity so you can reap the benefits of a nutritionally varied diet.12,13

Marshmallow Root

No, we don’t use that candy in OLIPOP! But, that being said, marshmallow root is distantly related to the marshmallow you know and love. Back in the day, we used marshmallow root to make marshmallows. Before that, marshmallow root was an herbal remedy known for its soothing mucilage—an antioxidant-rich, sap-like substance.


The petals of this beautiful yellow flower are often used as a dye for fabrics, foods, and even cosmetics. But this botanical also has medicinal properties! Rich in antioxidants, calendula petals are commonly used as an herbal remedy for their healing effects.

Kudzu Root

Kudzu root has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for over 2,000 years as a remedy for various ailments, like stomach upset, treating liver damage, and combating inflammation.

Nopal Cactus

Also known as prickly pear, nopal cactus is a good source of the soluble fibers pectin and mucilage. These fibers can help support intestinal health due to their soothing effects.

So now you know all about botanicals and their uses! So why not explore this new interest of yours and give the botanicals of OLIPOP a try?! Grab a can today and get sipping on these botanical-powered benefits. 


  1. McKenna, Dennis. “How Long Have Humans Used Botanicals?” University of Minnesota Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing,
  2. “Botanical Extracts.” Wholesale Supplies Plus,
  3. Loria, Kevin. “A Guide to 10 Popular Botanicals.” Consumer Reports, 30 Oct. 2019,
  4. Blumenthal, Mark. The ABC Clinical Guide to Herbs. 1st edition, American Botanical Council, 2003.
  5. Smith T, Gillespie M, Eckl V, Knepper J, Morton-Reynolds C. Herbal Supplement Sales in US Increase by 9.4% in 2018. HerbalGram. 2019;123:62-73.
  6. “FDA 101: Dietary Supplements.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 15 July 2015,
  7. McKenna, Dennis. “Is There Good Scientific Evidence?” University of Minnesota Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing,
  8. “Why Do People Use Botanicals?” Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing,
  9. “Botanical Dietary Supplements - Background Information.” National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, 11 Dec. 2020,
  10. Mohd Yusof, Yasmin Anum. “Gingerol and Its Role in Chronic Diseases.” Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 2016, pp. 177–207. Crossref,
  11. Green, James. The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual. Crossing Press, 2000. 
  12. Singh, Rasnik K., et al. “Influence of Diet on the Gut Microbiome and Implications for Human Health.” Journal of Translational Medicine, vol. 15, no. 1, 2017. Crossref,
  13. Heiman, Mark L., and Frank L. Greenway. “A Healthy Gastrointestinal Microbiome Is Dependent on Dietary Diversity.” Molecular Metabolism, vol. 5, no. 5, 2016, pp. 317–20. Crossref,
Cheat Sheet
  • There are hundreds of botanicals that have been used throughout human history that range from roots, bark, berries, leaves, and more.
  • Any plant that is used to treat an ailment can be considered a botanical.
  • Botanicals come in a wide range of forms, as both fresh and dried plant materials, in capsules, whole foods, liquids, and more.
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