The use of herbs and vitamins to boost health and offer an alternative treatment for illness has always been popular and is continuing to rise.

More and more herbal treatment are becoming available.

Siobhan Ryan looks at the growing popularity of natural remedies and treatments and what benefits they have.

The link between conventional medicines and natural alternatives is a closer one than most would assume at first.

Many familiar medications of the 20th Century were developed from ancient healing traditions that treated health problems with specific plants.

Today, science has isolated the medicinal properties of a large number of botanical plants and their healing components have been extracted and analysed.

A number of plant components are now synthesised in large laboratories in the preparation of pharmaceutical drugs.

For example, digitalis (a heart regulator)and ephedrine (used to decrease respiratory congestion) were originally discovered through research on plants.

Many other drugs listed as conventional medications are also derived from plants.

Salicylic acid,a precursor of aspirin, was originally derived from white willow bark and the meadowsweet plant while the chinchona bark is the source of the malaria-fighting quinine.

Vincristine, used to treat certain types of cancer, comes from periwinkle, and the opium poppy yields morphine, codeine and paregoric, a treatment for diarrhoea.

For many people, taking regular vitamin and herbal supplements derived from natural plants and herbs is an important part of their lifestyle.

They say the regular doses help with a variety situations ranging from general pep up to dealing with more long-term conditions.

Nigel Grosse believes there has never been any doubt about the importance of natural herbs and vitamins and stresses the way they are packaged is important as well.

Mr Grosse, from Brighton, says the only way to get the best out of the products is to make sure they are all absored into the bloodstream as quickly as possible.

Sometimes, pills and capsules can be artificially bound with chemicals or non-vegetarian substances such as gelatin, which can put off a large number of people.

He himself, only uses capsules made from the vegetarian-friendly substance of plant-fibre which is easy for the body to absorb.

He says: "There are some capsules and pills that use artificial components to bind them together and this can affect the efficiency of the herbs being used; unless they absorb efficiently and effectively you're wasting your time.

"The vegetarian capsules dissolve into the blood stream easily and the whole benefits of the vitamins and herbs are felt without any other interference."

Mr Grosse has developed his own range of herbal vitamins and products in which he only uses raw organic herbs in vegetarian capsules.

He says: "I have always been interested in natural alternatives and believe they are a major benefit for many people. There are so many properties that herbs and vitamins have that, if taken regularly, can really help to boost a person's health and lifestyle."

One of the products on offer is Milk Thistle which can be used as a tonic for the liver. It's also used for a whole range of liver and gall bladder conditions including hepatitis and cirrhosis.

As its name implies, it also promotes milk secretion and is perfectly safe to be used by all breast feeding mothers.

Another popular product is Ginkgo, which helps with memory loss and circulation while Kava Kava can help with sleep and anxiety.

Amanda Phillips, 41, from Hove, is a great believer in natural products. She says: "I have problems with my heart,and while I have conventional medical treatment, I have also been recommended to take Ginkgo for my circulation.

"After a while, you tend to get tired and suspicious of artificially-created products which is why I spent a long time looking for alternatives."

Brighton GP Samuel Anderson says that while he appreciates many natural therapies have a good effect, sometimes conventional medicine is the only answer.

He says:"In general I can see why alternative medicines are popular and certainly there are many vitamins and herbs that can can help boost patients systems However I would always recommend that anyone with consistent problems should get in contact with their local GP.

For details about Mr Grosse's products, call Solo Nutrition on 01273 628747