The number of herbal supplement users has escalated over the course of time. Currently, nearly four billion people have chosen herbal remedies over contemporary synthetic medications in treating a wide array of conditions. But then again it is important to know that not all herbs are manufactured the same way. Even though these herbs have been around for so long it still does not guarantee safety.
Not all herbal supplements receive their fair share of scientific scrutiny. Most if not all of these herbs do not go through the strict inspection of the Food and Drug Administration. In other words, herbal products can be disseminated and accessed by society without undergoing meticulous investigation.
Therefore, once you’re exposed in the herbal supplement section of a pharmacy or a supermarket you will encounter stacks of herbal supplements that are either in excellent quality or made in poor quality. It is then the responsibility of the buyer to discern which products and which company to patronize. This article will help you gain insight on the dos and don’ts of herbal supplement buying.
1 – First of all you have to know if the product you are eyeing on is safe. FDA does not categorize herbal supplements under the food section and it most definitely does not fall under drugs. These herbal supplements are categorized under dietary supplements and to be labeled as dietary supplements you need to follow a set of rules.
Acquainting yourself of these rules should be your first step to ensure the safety of your health. These regulations were put up to assure the public that the FDA still has the power and the authority to take out products that did not pass their standard in terms of safety. Again, to clarify, the FDA does not strictly regulate the influx of products but they are responsible for monitoring its safety once it is out.
2 – Taking precautionary measures like researching about the product and the company before you make that purchase is highly essential. Reading forums, feedbacks and articles published on certain herbal supplements will help give you an idea of what you are getting yourself into.
Question anything you don’t understand or that doesn’t seem right. Be especially alert to new articles with receiving newsletters that help you stay updated..
3 – Also, consulting your doctor is a wise decision for any herbal supplement buyer. Whether you’ve been on herbal supplements for a long time and you decide to switch into a different brand or a different herb, it is still necessary that you talk it down with your doctor.
Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your herb, or if you have been told to avoid a herb, call him before you taking it.
4 – Knowing the list of ingredients in every bottle is also important. Keep a list of all medications that you take (prescribed drugs, nonprescription medicines, herbal supplements, home remedies, and medical foods) and medicines that you cannot take due to allergic reactions, and share those with your doctor or pharmacist to avoid any side effects or reactions.
5 – Generally, ideal dosages are written on the label but just to be safe ask your doctor to prescribe you with the right dosage suitable for your age and weight, because the dosages depend on a patient’s weight.
Too little medication can be ineffective and too much could be harmful. Also, different medicines have different concentrations of ingredients, so always check the bottle and ask the pharmacist if you have any questions. Take the minimum effective dose, using the measuring device that comes with the bottle.
6 – Asking for your doctor’s advice and opinion over a product is not enough you also need to look for scientific research findings. Two credible sources for these would be the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine or the NCCAM and the Office of Dietary Supplements. These websites provide honest to goodness information about herbal supplements.
7 – You should also keep track of all the medicines you are taking because some medicines may interact negatively with the ingredients present in your herbal supplement. Write on a copybook:
- The name and purpose of the medication
- How much, how often, and for how long the medicine should be taken
- How the medicine should be administered (for instance, whether it should be taken by mouth; breathed into the lungs; inserted into the ears, eyes, or rectum; or applied to the skin)
- Ask if you should avoid certain foods, beverages, other medicines, or activities while you are taking the drug
8 – Adults can take 120 mg of herbal supplements daily and this can be divided into two to three equal doses. The extract should be standardized to twenty five percent flavone glycosides. The results can be observed after four to six weeks of use. Big changes can be noticed after six long months of use. However, it is important that you seek first the approval of your health care provider and let your doctor prescribe the exact dosage and frequency of use regardless of what the label on the bottle says.