For nearly 3000 years Asian cultures have harnessed the natural power of plants to live healthier and happier lives. Today Western medicine is beginning to discover the powerful effects which herbal supplements have on the overall health and well-being the human body. In fact, herbal supplements are believed to increase energy, improve memory and even reveal a more natural and youthful skin appearance.
And, while they are growing rapidly in popularity, they are not regulated by the food and drug administration. This has both positive and negative effects on the industry. On the positive side it means that pharmaceutical industries can not charge an exorbitant amount of money for plants that can be grown in our backyard. The pharmaceutical industry has long been interested in regulating herbal supplements and vitamins in order to increase their financial bottom line.
However, at this time, there is enough of a grassroots fight in order to keep that from happening. But, the flip side of this argument is that because the federal government does not regulate the production and manufacturing of these products they are also not consistently manufactured and packaged. This means that each individual manufacturer of the herbal supplement may or may not manufacture product as pure as the next manufacture.
It is important for the consumer to actively investigate the companies from whom they are purchasing their products and ensure that they are receiving the active ingredients they believe they are.
Herbal supplements do have active ingredients that affect how the body functions, just as any over-the-counter or prescription medication might. This means that if you are considering an herbal supplementation in order to improve your overall health, you should also be sure that anything you are taking does not interact with any medications you might already be on. The best place to check this out is with your pharmacist who is well-versed in the interactions between all medications, including herbal supplements.
Herbal supplements can be risky for individuals who have underlying medical conditions and are taking multiple medications. Educate yourself about any products you intend to use before purchasing them and talk with both your physician in your pharmacist.
The fine line that distinguishes supplements and pharmaceutical medications is that pharmaceutical medications are allowed by US law to make claims as to their ability to treat certain medical conditions. On the other hand, because supplements do not undergo stringent clinical trials in the medical community the FDA does not allow labeling to include how these herbal supplements may treat certain conditions or help the overall health of an individual.
Therefore, it is up to the individual to do their own research about taking specific types of medications or herbal supplementation, and even vitamins and minerals, so that they are well aware of what the side effects are as well is what the intended benefits might be.