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How to buy herbal supplements


Herbal supplements or remedies, sometimes called botanicals have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. However, herbal supplements aren’t as strictly regulated as medications. For example, makers of herbal supplements don’t have to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before putting their products on the market. So it’s important to do your homework and investigate potential benefits and side effects of herbal supplements before you buy.

When you buy herbal remedies, it is important to select quality products from a reliable source. Check membership in trade groups such as the American Herbal Products Association (www.ahpa.org) and the American Botanical Council providing regular updates on new science related to herbs (www.herbalgram.org) to identify the manufactures are following GMP guidelines from FDA and how they determine the identity and potency of the herbs. We recommend you buying herbs sold by reputable companies that they have been in the herb business for at least ten years. If you want to buy organic products, then you need to check the “certified organic” label on the products. Finally, check the herbal products that are standardized to contain a specific percentage of active ingredients.

The rules for dietary supplements regulated by the FDA are as follows

Manufacturers don’t have to seek FDA approval before putting dietary supplements on the market.

Manufacturers must follow good manufacturing practices to ensure that supplements are processed consistently and meet quality standards.

Once a dietary supplement is on the market, the FDA is responsible for monitoring its safety.

These regulations provide assurance that herbal supplements meet certain quality standards and that the FDA can intervene to remove dangerous products from the market.

The rules do not, however, guarantee that herbal supplements are safe for anyone to use.

The FDA requires that the following information be included on the labels of all herbal supplements

The name of the herbal supplement

The name and address of manufacturer or distributor

A complete list of ingredients — either in the Supplement Facts panel or listed beneath it

Serving size, amount and active ingredient

Don’t just rely on a product’s marketing. Look for objective, research-based information to evaluate a product’s claims. To get reliable information about a particular supplement, two good sources include theNationalCenterfor Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM http://nccam.nih.gov/) and the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS http://ods.od.nih.gov/ ). Both have websites that provide information to help consumers make informed choices about dietary supplements.

Please talk with your doctor before you take any herbal supplements, especially if you take other medications, have chronic health problems, or are pregnant or breast-feeding and younger than 18 or older than 65.

More information about other natural products

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