April 16th 2012
Herbal Supplements, Are They Effective?
No this paper is not all about marijuana and whether or not it should be legalized. This is a serious paper discussing actual herbal supplements and if they are effective to use. Herbal supplements (which are sometimes called botanicals) are not relatively new. Plants have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. However botanicals are not as strictly regulated like the other medications we take. It has been revealed that makers of botanicals do not have to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration or FDA before placing their products on the market. Apparently botanicals are regulated by the FDA as “dietary supplements” not drugs or foods. There are many rules that come with “dietary supplements” however none of those rules ever guarantee that they are safe for people to use! Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong effects in the body; those products can pose unexpected risks. Studies show that “taking a combination of herbal supplements or using supplements together with prescribed medications could lead to harmful, even life-threatening results” This is why people should always talk to their doctors first before taking any type of herbal supplements. Manufacturers of herbal supplements are responsible for making sure that their claims about their products are true and not misleading and that they're backed up by adequate evidence. However, they are not required to submit this evidence to the FDA. Not everyone should take herbal supplements because they have many risks to them. This is why it is very important to talk to a doctor before using them. In high risk situations your doctor might even tell you to avoid any type of herbal supplements. For people who take prescriptions, pregnant women, and people having surgery, and anyone younger than eighteen or older than sixty-five herbal supplements could be even more dangerous for them than others. Certain herbs can cause serious side effects when mixed with prescription drugs. Medications that may be safe for you as an adult could be extremely harmful to your unborn child. If you’re getting surgery herbal supplements can affect the outcome of it, some may decrease the effectiveness of anesthetics or cause dangerous complications, like bleeding or high blood pressure. Older adults may metabolize medications differently due to their age; and few herbal supplements have been tested on children or have come up with safe doses for children. If you feel as though you have done all your research on botanicals and you want to use them make sure you follow the instructions on the labels, keep track of what supplements you take, and check alerts and advisories. However I can’t say that all herbal supplements are bad for you because they have been used for thousands of years, in fact longer than recorded history even. “The Ancient Chinese and Egyptian papyrus writings describe medicinal uses for plants as early as 3,000 BC”. Cultures -such as African and Native American- used herbs in their healing rituals, while others developed traditional medical systems in which herbal therapies were used. Researchers found “that people in different parts of the world tended to use the same or similar plants for the same purposes”. Herbs however are very tricky to use because different conditions can affect their effectiveness on people. Things like the type of environment in which a plant grew will affect it, as will how and when it was harvested and processed. This is why it is so tricky to really figure out the quality and effectiveness of herbal supplements. However like I said herbal supplements do have a positive side. Although they don’t undergo the same regulations as other drugs there have been recent studies from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation in Los Angeles that show herbal supplements are an effective method for treating…