Herbal supplements are products which are derived from plants and people use them as dietary supplement or to augment their traditional medical treatments.

Herbal supplements had been here for quite a while.  Based on our experience, we know that some of them can have drug-like effects which can be harmful.  Yet the Food and Drugs Administration does not regulate them as drugs but as supplements.  This means that makers of herbal supplements are allowed to put their products in the market without the need to get prior approval from the FDA.

You use herbal supplements for their benefits, but since you already know that they also carry potential risks, you should make it a point to talk to a medical professional before buying them.

A doctor’s guidance is necessary if you fall under any of these conditions: i) you are suffering from chronic health issues, ii) you are breastfeeding or pregnant, and iii) you are under medication.

Here are some important facts that you should know about herbal supplements:

1. Manufacturers of herbal supplements are not required to seek FDA approval to put their product in the market.

2. Manufacturers are required to observe good manufacturing practices.  This is to ensure product quality and to see to it that contaminants such as pesticides and lead are avoided.

3. The FDA can take action against the manufacturer or distributor or both if it finds out that the product is unsafe.  The FDA action can range from a warning to the removal of the product from the market.

For purposes of traceability and identification, the FDA requires herbal manufacturers to include the following information in the labels of their products:

– The name of the herbal supplement

– The name and address of manufacturer or distributor

– The formula or a complete list of ingredients or the product

– Serving size or dosage

You must be sure that you understand the information provided on the label of your herbal supplement.  If anything is unclear to you, ask your doctor to explain it to you.  There’s nothing better than being sure especially when your health is concerned.

Another way to verify the ingredients of the product you buy is by checking it out at Dietary Supplements Labels Database.  The database contains information on the ingredients of herbal supplements that are sold in the American market.  You can access it at the website of the National Library of Medicine.

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