The Safety of Herbs and Supplements
Herbal and vitamin supplements have become incredibly popular in recent years as the health benefits are becoming scientifically realized. Many people have found profound relief using herbs and supplements for chronic pain, psychological issues, and digestive problems, just to name a few.
Even with all the benefits, use caution. The safety and quality of most of these products are federally unregulated. You may recall in this past year that a number of large chain stores received hefty fines for selling products that didn’t contain the components they were advertising and instead contained a protein filler. Misrepresented ingredients on labels is just one of many factors to be aware of when buying herbs or supplements. In fact, there are many obstacles when it comes to using supplements and herbs. It is almost impossible to open up your Twitter or Facebook page and not see a post about the latest miracle natural remedy. Many articles make some pretty outrageous claims when it comes to the effectiveness of herbs and supplements. Your first red flag should be when posts are trying to push a specific product. These types of posts are primarily used to get you to buy their product and may be misleading when it comes to sighting reliable clinical results. It is very important to check the resources sighted in all published articles, especially when they are on the internet. It is easy to click on the resources link and read the abstract of the article being sighting. It is a very common practice to “cherry pick” the source research article by only pulling out the info that supports their claims, leaving out the parts that do not. This is called telling the truth and nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth.
The quality of the flora and fauna used in products should also be considered. Because of the lack of federal regulations, may products may contain hazardous materials such as pesticides and heavy metals. This is a major concern when dealing with products from China and India. Find reputable importers that take the responsibility, not only to test every product they import, but also participate in third-party testing. Companies like Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) is a certified third-party testing organization that tests for purity and hazardous materials. The GMP certified stamp should always be present on products imported from China. Even though there are little or no federal regulation standards, some states have taken on the responsibility of putting in place their own standards.
California has some of the strictest standards when it comes imports. Products that are imported via the state of California have to adhere to these laws and regulations and are far more trustworthy than products imported from other port states. The majority of supplements are purchased over the counter for self-treatment or through a recommendation from a sales clerk. In most cases, this can be a very benign if the purchase is made in a trusted store. There is little risk of doing harm. However, in terms of effectiveness, your desired results can fall short. Even though many individuals working in these types of establishments have received some modest training to know the store’s products, in most cases they do not have the ability to do any type of differential diagnosis or prescribing of a product. This can greatly decrease the effectiveness in achieving the desired results.
Unfortunately, many people will abandon the use of natural herbal therapy when they give it a single try and do not see results. It is highly recommended, when pursuing more natural treatment options, to see practitioners with a higher level of herbal medical training and experience. This approach will profoundly affect an outcome positively by providing differential diagnosis, personally crafted treatment protocols, and follow ups to insure the treatment is safe, effective, and meets your health needs.
Although there are some obstacles, if you learn to extract the truth from articles, know which products are safe, and know who to consult with, herbs and supplements can have a profound positive influence on your health and the treatment of disease.