The Regulation of Herbal Medicine

There is a tendency to put great trust in herbs because they are "natural" and, therefore "better" than artificially produced pharmaceutical drugs. Herbs are not considered drugs by the FDA, but rather dietary supplements that are largely unregulated, unlike drugs. As a result, the amount of active ingredient can vary between products manufactured by different companies, and even between batches produced by the same company. A company that produces herbs has to provide a reasonable assurance that their products are not harmful and the company cannot claim that its product cures or prevents a disease. Otherwise, a company can make any other claim about the supposed benefits without supporting evidence. No legal requirement stipulates that herb manufacturers list the contents, side effects, safety, efficacy, or drug interaction information on the label. The FDA can only recall an herb if harmful effects are found. This information highlights the fact that patients should find out as much as possible about an herbal preparation before taking it.


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