Our herbal supplements contain a mixture of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or botanicals. Research has affirmed medical advantages of some supplements, but not others. To utilize supplements safely, read and take according to the guidelines, and understand that “common” does not always mean “safe.” Be mindful that a natural supplement may contain many ingredients and that every one may not be known. Some supplements may interact with drugs or pose dangers if you have medical issues or are going to have surgery. Most dietary supplements have not been tested in pregnant women, nursing moms, or children.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) manages dietary supplements; however, the regulations for dietary supplements are diverse and less strict than those for prescription or over-the-counter medications. Inform all your doctors about any drugs you use. Provide a full picture of what you do to maintain your health. This will help guarantee and safe treatment.
Supplements were defined in a law passed by Congress in 1994 called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). As indicated by DSHEA, a dietary supplement is an item that:
- Is proposed to supplement the diet
- Contains one or more vitamins, minerals, herbs or different botanicals, amino acids, or their constituents
- Is proposed to be taken by mouth as a tablet, powder, softgel, gelcap, or fluid
- Is marked as being a dietary supplement
Home grown supplements are one kind of dietary supplement. A herb is a plant or plant part (for example, leaves, blossoms, or seeds) that is utilized for its flavor, fragrance, and/or potential health-related properties. “Herbal” is frequently utilized as an equivalent word for “herb.” A home grown supplement may contain one herb or mixtures of herbs. The law requires that the majority of the herbs be listed on the label.
Research has demonstrated that a few employments of dietary supplements are valuable to health. For instance, researchers have discovered that folic acid (vitamin B9) prevents certain birth defects. Other research on dietary supplements has not shown advantage; for instance, a few studies of the natural supplement echinacea did not discover benefits against the common cold.
Safety with supplements
In case you are considering or using a dietary supplement, here are a few points to remember:
- Inform all your doctors about any drugs you are taking. Provide for them a full picture of how you take care of yourself. This will help guarantee safe treatment. For tips about talking with your doctor, see NCCAM’s Chance to Talk crusade.
It is essential to talk with your doctor if you:
- Take any drugs (whether medicine or over-the-counter). Some dietary supplements have been found to interact with drugs. For instance, the home grown supplement St. John’s wort interacts with numerous drugs
- Are replacing your standard medicine with one or more supplements
- Hope to have surgery. Certain dietary supplements may increase the risk of draining or influence the reaction to anesthesia
- Are pregnant, nursing, trying to become pregnant, or considering giving a child a dietary supplement.
- Have any medical conditions
Some dietary supplements may hurt you if you have specific conditions. For instance, by taking supplements that contain iron, individuals with hemochromatosis, an inherited disorder in which iron aggregates in the body, could further build their iron levels and increase their risk of adverse reaction, for example, liver disease.
If you are taking a supplement, read the directions. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions, especially about the best dose for you to take. If you have any reactions that worry you, stop taking the dietary supplement and contact your doctor. You might likewise need to contact the drug company, and you can report your experience to the FDA’s Medwatch program.
Remember that while numerous supplements (and some physician-endorsed medications) originate from natural sources, “common” does not always mean “safe.” For instance, the herbs comfrey and kava can damage the liver. Additionally, a producer’s use of the expression “confirmed” or “ensured” does not always ensure item quality or consistency.
Be mindful that a natural supplement may contain many unknown ingredients. Scientists are seeking to understand which ingredients are safe and healthful to take. Remember:
- A natural supplement may not contain the right plant species
- The quantity may be different than the label states. That implies you may be taking a different amount of the dietary supplement than you think
- The supplement may be contaminated by different herbs, pesticides, or metals, or even unlabeled, illicit drugs