The Safety of Herbal Supplements – What You Should Know

Herbal supplements are a hot topic in health today, with advertisements claiming they will cure everything from sexual dysfunction to the common cold Private label turkey tail. In reality, though, both herbal and mineral supplements have been used in various forms throughout history. Western medicine is now taking the use of herbs into real consideration as possible treatments for various ailments.

Dietary Supplements & Herbal Medicines | USP

In the United States, medicines and foods are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are tested for safety before being placed on the market. Herbal supplements, however, fall under a subcategory of “dietary supplements” and are regulated under a different set of rules. For this reason, it is important to do some research before choosing the appropriate herbal supplement or mineral supplement for a particular diet.

When considering which supplements might be appropriate, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine can be an excellent resource. In addition, the herbal supplements manufacturer or distributor should be able to answer questions regarding their products. While some people will simply dismiss the benefits of herbal or mineral supplements, the NCCAM or a product’s distributor should be able to point you toward solid scientific findings relating to the efficacy of various products on the market.

What is not in question is the fact that many herbal supplements do have well-documented effects, both good and bad. This means that they can interact with both over-the-counter and prescription medications. For this reason, it is always important to mention any supplements being taken, including vitamins, when speaking with a doctor or pharmacist.

Medical conditions, including pregnancy, can be affected by anything ingested, so a medical professional is a great resource for understanding what should and should not be taken. For example, a doctor may recommend calcium supplements as part of a healthy pregnancy nutrition plan, while there are other herbal and mineral supplements that can cause complications when undergoing surgery. Again, research and knowledge are the most important tools a consumer has when making decisions regarding his or her health.

Another method consumers have in protecting their health with the use of herbal supplements is to be cautious. When taking a particular mineral supplement, for example, the user should follow the recommended dosages and keep a record of what is being taken and the benefits and any side effects experienced. In addition, supplements produced outside of the U.S. may not be held to any FDA regulations and can contain ingredients not considered safe by FDA standards. The NCCAM keeps a list of herbal and mineral supplements that are currently under review, so double checking this resource helps the consumer avoid questionable choices.

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