Over the years, herbal medicines have evolved from being administered in form of herbs and medicinal concoctions to a multi-billion dollar industry. It is amazing to see how herbs have been able to generate exponential profits over time. It clearly proves that there is still a high demand for herbal medicines, just as there was back then.
Thanks to technology, the herbal world has been revolutionized. Herbal products are not more administered in their raw states – as leaves, shrubs, roots, stems, and other parts of medicinal plants. They have been refined into colourful capsules, tablets, tea bags, powdery substances, and medicinal liquids. Based on their refinery process, herbal products have more potency and can last longer than their traditional counterparts.
Just like traditional medicine, modern herbal products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some of the common herbal products available in the market include echinacea, ginkgo, garlic, cohosh, St. John’s wort, and Saw Palmetto.
Improving Your Health With Herbal Products
Herbal products and supplements are manufactured to improve the well-being of individuals and treat health-related problems. As clearly stated above, herbal medicines are not regulated by the FDA; the reason being that the FDA regards herb supplements as food, not drugs.
When you take a look at the label on a herbal health supplement, you would see how the supplement can help treat certain health issues. However, it can’t claim to be a definite treatment for any illness or diseases. As stated by the FDA, “Dietary supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or alleviate the effects of diseases.”
You can check out the guideline provided by the U.S. National Library of Medicine on various applications of specific herbs and supplements. For example, these herbs are used for certain purposes:
- American ginseng can be used to alleviate stress, enhance digestion, increase the immune system, and many more.
- Cinnamon may be used in the treatment of diabetes, loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal problems.
- German Chamomile may be used to reduce anxiety, enhance the quality of one’s sleep, and relieve gastrointestinal problems.
There are other products out there that are purported to treat diverse symptoms. Nevertheless, it is ideal to seek the advice of your family doctor before ingesting any new substance. Also, avoid taking an overdose of the prescription listed on the label. Find out from your doctor if such a substance will interfere with any medication you have taken.
Is It Safe To Take Herbal Products And Supplements?
Just because herbal products and supplements are derived from nature doesn’t make them any safer than over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicines. Despite the fact that these products are most times advertised as being natural, their ingredients are not all the time natural to the body.
Due to the high potency of these medicinal products, they may create strong effects in the body. In addition to this, these products may have adverse effects. The risk and benefits of some of the herbal products and supplements have been studied by researchers. Nonetheless, there are more herbal medicines that need to be studied as well.
Herbal Products/Supplements And The FDA
The FDA would have to approve OTC and prescription medicines as being safe before they can be consumed by individuals. It is a different ball game entirely for herbal products and supplements, as they are classified by the FDA to be food substances. Hence, they do not need to be approved as being safe and effective before they can be administered in treating, preventing or curing health problems. It is the duty of the manufacturer to provide safe herbal medicines.
In a situation where a herbal product or supplement is found to be unsafe for consumers, such product can be taken off the market by the FDA. This happens especially when they create severe adverse effects or contain harmful substances.
Detecting The Contents Of Herbal Products And Supplements?
According to the law, it is mandatory for manufacturers of herbal products and supplements to declare the contents listed on the labels of the products as being truthful, accurate, safe. Also, they need to supply the following information on their products before distributing them into the market:
- The name of the herbal product or supplement.
- The manufacturer’s or distributor’s name and address.
- A complete list detailing the ingredients used in manufacturing the product or supplement.
- The amount of product or supplement placed in the package or container.
If you happen to come across any herbal product that does not have these items listed, it would be best to avoid it. You can access information on various supplements through the Dietary Supplement Label Database provided by the National Institutes of Health.
How To Safely Use Herbal Products And Supplements
To begin with, ensure that you consult your doctor first before taking any herbal medicine. If you need to take a herbal product or supplement, thoroughly go through the ingredients listed on the label and the direction on how to use it. Stick to the prescription provided by the manufacturer; avoid overdose as it can be harmful to your body.
In a situation where you need clarity on some aspects of the product or supplement, consult your doctor. Whereby you have certain health problems, it may not be safe to consume herbal health products or supplements, due to some of the ingredients contained in the product that conflict with the body. For example, pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers may not be allowed to use certain herbal medicines.
Also, these products may not be suitable for children and older adults, as they may produce adverse effects due to body type. Should you need to undergo surgery it is important to inform your doctor about any herbal substances you may have taken, especially if it is recent. Avoid the use of herbal products two weeks before surgery.
Even though you do not have health problems, it is ideal that you consult your doctor before taking any herbal product or supplement. To retain the efficacy of your herbal medicines, ensure that they are stored in a cool dry place.
If you would like to know more about certain herbal products and supplements, please visit this link: Blue Poppy Herbal Products.