How to Safely Use Herbal Supplements

Botanicals Can Help with Many Conditions but are not Regulated by the FDA

Copyright © Annette Hazard; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission. Posted February 4, 2013

Herbal supplement capsules; photo courtesy Annette Hazard


Herbal supplements, which are also called botanicals, have been around for hundreds of years. The number of people using herbal supplements is increasing.

In fact, studies have shown that three out of four of the people in the world have used an herbal supplement at some point in their life. It is estimated that 20 percent of people in America have used an herbal supplement within the past year.

Many of the people who use botanicals are using them in the place of a prescription medication. Milk thistle, garlic and black cohosh are examples of some of the most popular supplements.

Supplements Can Cause Side Effects

You should be very cautious when you are taking supplements. There are some supplements that can interact with medications and cause unpleasant side effects. A supplement can also worsen a preexisting medical condition.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that herbal supplements are not regulated in the same way that medications are regulated. Before a medication is put on the market, they must meet specific standards of safety and efficacy.

Not Regulated by the Food and Drug Administration

In the US, companies who manufacture herbal supplements are exempted from those regulations by The Dietary Supplement and Health Act. In other words, they are not regulated by the FDA although they do publish issues of concern.

Given that fact, know that when you are shopping and read the nutrition label, take what it says with a grain of salt.

Before you take an herbal supplement, you should consult with your doctor. This is especially important if you are already on a prescription medication.

Again, herbal supplements can interact with a number of prescription medications. For example, St. John’s wort has been shown to interact with digoxin, allergy medications, blood thinners and antidepressants.

Ginkgo and ginger can interact with drugs that are used to treat breast cancer. Saw palmetto and garlic are two of the many supplements that have been shown to potentially cause adverse side effects.

Diarrhea and headache are two of the possible side effects that can result from using saw palmetto. Garlic can cause nausea, bad breath and body odor.

Allergies and Age Must be Considered

Herbal supplements can worsen allergies, so if you have had a history of allergies, take note. If this is the case you want to inform your doctor of that before you start taking any supplement.

Furthermore, if you are an older person who is on multiple medications, then you should inform your doctor before you start taking an herbal supplement.

It is important to remember that just because something is natural does not mean that it is free of side effects. That is why it is important to always ask questions. When it comes to your health, there is no such thing as being too cautious.

About the Author:

Annette Hazard is a healthy living and exercise blogger. She suggests to learn more about herbal supplements click here and for weight loss supplements click here. She is also an avid cyclist and enjoys spending time with her husband and daughter.

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