More people are looking for natural solutions to treat minor medical problems. Some turn to natural herb supplements from their local health food store, while others buy them off the net. Unfortunately, in either case, it is difficult to tell if you are getting a high quality herbal supplement-or even one that’s safe. There’s very little resolution of the herbal supplement industry which means it’s important to do some research before purchasing supplemental herb products. Here are some measures to increase the odds that you are getting an herbal supplement that’s safe and effective.
With so little regulation in the herbal supplement industry, herbal supplements often come from overseas and may be performed with cheap herbal extracts that have been diluted down. Herbal supplements are certainly not right for everyone, but if you decide to use them, it’s important to buy only from businesses that have a track record of producing safe, high quality products. Be wary of new companies until they have had time to prove their worth.
Before buying from a firm that sells supplemental herbs, call and inquire about their quality assurance program-but do not stop there. Ask to obtain a copy of their specification sheet-which outlines what tests they run on each supplement-and the results. In addition to routine testing, they should also check for heavy metals and the existence of microbes such as bacteria and fungi that can contaminate herbal products. Don’t purchase from a company who’s unwilling to send out a specification sheet. This should raise a red flag.
The specification sheet for a natural herb supplement should list ‘total ash’ and ‘acid-insoluble ash’. This will give some idea of how pure an herbal supplement is. If these two values are high, the product may contain fillers such as sand, and isn’t a high quality herbal supplement.
But, What About…
If you use a great deal of herbal supplements, consider joining Consumer Labs online. This is an independent testing firm that tests supplements to make sure they contain what they are supposed to. It’s a good way to see if it’s a high quality herbal supplement before spending money on it.
Not. Even. Close. The long term consequences of most herbal supplements have almost never been tested. Many scientists have found herbal supplements that act like low level poisons, and others that-while not inherently dangerous-would do to your body the same damage as going outside and eating a branch every day. There are a lot of safe herbal supplements, but many, many more that have very little testing.
Finally, it is best to take any supplemental herb under a medical professional’s care. Natural does not always mean safe and it is important to be monitored closely for side effects with any treatment-whether it’s natural or not.