Are Herbal Supplements Safe?

I just read a book by a doctor I know in which he complained about the safety issues relating to herbal supplements.  It is interesting to me that everyone seems so concerned about the safety of herbs and dietary supplements.  However in 2009 the poison control center reported zero deaths due to vitamins, minerals, amino acids or herbs.

There seem to be a deep prejudice against alternative healing methods. It is a known fact that products from India and China are frequently adulterated. That is why the good companies test their products for lead, mercury, and a variety of offending contaminants. It is important to look for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) on the label to make sure the products you purchase are tested and are free of contamination.

Why Do We Trust Pharmaceuticals?

It seems that we put blind trust into our pharmaceutical systems and make an assumption that because it is a drug it has to be safe. However generic drugs have been found to be tainted. One heparin lot from China caused 81 deaths when it was found to be contaminated. Also The People’s Pharmacy states that Generic Drugs from India may not be safe.  So why are medical doctors so very concerned over the safety of herbs?

Compare Ayurvedic to Drugs.

Look at this study comparing methotrexate to  Ayurvedic medicine done by the NIH showing that treatment with Ayurvidic medicine was as effective as methotrexate for rheumatoid. Methotrexate has life threating side effects however in 1.7% of cases. However it seems that we want to worry about  the safety of boswella, an herb which would usually be used for rheumatoid symptoms in Ayurvedic medicine. Are we so worried about herbal safety that we lose a sense of perspective? ?That doesn’t make sense to me, does it to you?

Are Herbs Safe?

I do not mean to imply that all herbal products are safe. I would only purchase from good quality herbal companies that are GMP certified. We want to make sure the herbs are tested and not full of contaminants. Also, herbs can be very powerful. There can be issues related to drug herb interactions. If you are taking herbs you should be aware of interactions. You can go to Medline to learn more about those interactions or ask your pharmacist. Also remember a lot of herbs have side effects. Red rice yeast for example can cause the same types of body aches that statins can. Check out Medline link to find side effects.

Why?

So why do you think medical doctors are so concerned about herbs and their safety? Why do you think you rarely hear the same concern about generic drugs? You opinion matters more than anyone else’s.

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About John Montague DC

John Montague DC is the owner of WebVitamins. He is active in the industry and is currently president of the NPA East.

Comments

  1. I think it’s safe to say that herbal supplements do have their own uses and effects that can be a cure or not to illnesses. And this goes for generic drugs as well. It’s just a matter of knowing the specific effects of each.

  2. If my problem was a Death Star, this article is a photoon torpedo.

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