This is the second of a two-part series that covers the important facts that you need to know about herbal supplements. (click here for part 1)

In this article, we will continue to uncover more information about them so that we will be able to enjoy their health benefits without experiencing their risks.

Should You Believe their Claims?

Even if the formula or ingredients of most brands of herbal supplements are verifiable with the Dietary Supplements Labels Database, their manufacturers have claims that are not easy to ascertain.  This is because these manufacturers are not required to submit proof of these to the FDA.

If you are really serious about using natural supplements for your health, you should take extra steps to check the truth of the claims.  This is to ensure that you have the right product before you decide to reach in for your wallet.

Here are some steps that you need to make to get reliable information about your herbal product:

1. Ask your doctor.

A doctor or a pharmacist is the best person that you can run to for information regarding health products manufacturers’ claims. They might not have the exact information about certain brands, but they will be able to give you some reliable insights about their benefits and risks.

2. Verify if the claim is put on record.

Another way to verify the truth of these claims is to look for scientific research findings.  You can get the information from the websites of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) or the Office of the Dietary Supplements.

3. Contact the manufacturer.

The product manufacturer or distributor would be more than willing to provide information to substantiate their claims.  So if you have questions regarding their product, contact its manufacturer and ask to talk to someone who holds the information you want.

Precautions before Taking Herbal Supplements

Although they are natural products, herbal supplements can be harmful if they are taken incorrectly.  You should exercise caution by talking to your doctor before you take your herbal supplements.  Here are some instances which can prevent you from using them:

1. If you are taking medications.  There are herbs that can react differently when mixed with drugs.

2. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.  To ensure your baby’s safety, you should seek professional approval before taking drugs or herbal supplements.

3. If you’re having surgery.  Some herbal supplements can reduce the effect of anesthetics.  They also have the tendency to cause serious complications, such as bleeding or hypertension if you take them before a surgical operation.

4. If you’re below 18 years old or older than 65.

Older individuals have slower metabolic processes and their bodies might react differently to the supplements.

Medical professionals do not advise children and adolescents to take herbal supplements because safe doses for these age groups have not been established yet.