Herbal supplements also referred to as botanical are mixtures extracted from plant roots, shoots, buds, and berries. They have been used in age-old recipes and are believed to have healing powers. Historically they have been used as medicines to heal wounds, relieve fever, prevent illness and act as relaxants.
Herbal supplements come in different forms depending on how the individual wishes to use them. These include teas, capsules, ointments, oil, and liquid extracts.
Are Herbal Supplements safe for health?
Herbal products are regulated by Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are categorized as dietary supplements and thus are not as strictly administered as over-the-counter drugs are. The main regulation to be followed by companies includes ensuring that their products are free from contaminants and are manufactured under hygienic conditions.
However, not all herbal supplements are safe to use. Before herbal products are used individuals need to consult their doctors and dieticians. In the majority of cases, dietary supplements are combined with conventional medical treatment. Before using herbal supplements it is important to consider the following points.
• Dietary supplements have their own set of side effects and reactions.
• The long term effects of most of the supplements are not fully known
• In most places, herbal supplement making and manufacture are not properly standardized.
Important Herbal Supplements and their Benefits
• Kava: used mainly for the treatment of insomnia and anxiety, however excessive use of it can damage the liver.
• St. John’s Wort: This is a popular supplement used in the treatment of depression and sleep disorders. A prominent side effect includes the individual getting sunburned.
• Ginkgo: used for supporting and improving memory.
• Ginger: Popularly used for easing nausea caused by chemotherapy and surgery.
• Aloe: used mainly in skin products for treating burn marks healing wounds.
Who should not use Herbal Supplements?
Due to the absence of conclusive scientific research on the risks of herbal medicines, it is best to avoid them if:
• You are younger than 18 or older than 60
• You are pregnant
• You are breastfeeding
• You are going to have surgery
• You are under some medical treatment
How to safely use herbal supplements?
After you have done your initial homework on the benefits and risks of herbal supplements and plan on starting a dosage, you need to play it safe by following these steps:
• Choose the brand wisely
• Keep a track of your medication
• Ask your doctor
• Do not skip the dosage.