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.


1. Tyagi A, Delanty N. Herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and seizures. Epilepsia 2003; 44(2):228-235.

2. Nsour WM, Lau CBS, Wong ICK. Review on phytotherapy in epilepsy. Seizure 2000;9: 96-107.

3. Spinella M. Herbal medicines and epilepsy: the potential for benefit and adverse effects. Epilepsy Behav 2001;2:524-532.

4. Weil A. Natural Health, Natural Medicine: A Comprehensive Manual for Wellness and Self-Care. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.

5. Schulz H, Stolz C, Muller J. The effect of valerian extract on sleep polygraphy in poor sleepers: a pilot study. Pharmacopsychiatry 1994;27:147-151.

6. Garges HP. Cardiac complications and delirium associated with Valerian root withdrawal. JAMA 1998;280:1566-1567.

7. Fetrow CW, Avila JR. Efficacy of the dietary supplement S-adenosyl-L-methionine. Ann Pharmacother 2001;35:1414-1425.

8. PDA for Herbal Medicine, 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Co., 2000.

9. Gordon E, Devinsky O. Alcohol and marijuana: effects on epilepsy and use by patients with epilepsy. Epilepsia 2001;42(10):1266-1272.

10. Ng SK, Brust JC, Hauser WA, et al. Illicit drug use and the risk of new-onset seizures. Am J Epidemiol 1990;132:47-57.

11. Ding Y, Xiaoxian H. Traditional Chinese herbs in treatment of neurologic and neurosurgical disorders. Can J Neurol Sci 1986;13:210-213.

12. Qing G, Peigen K. Studies of Qingyangshen (II): modulatory effect of co-treatment with Qingyangshen and diphenylhydantoin sodium on rat hippocampal c-fos expression during seizures. J Tradit Chin Med 1996;16:48-50.

13. Tiancai W. Effects of Chinese medicine Zhenxianling in 239 cases of epilepsy. J Tradit Chin Med 1996;16:94-97.

14. Yarnell E, Abascal K. An herbal formula for treating intractable epilepsy. Alternative and Complementary Therapies 2000;203-206.

15. Morello G. Treating epilepsy effectively. Am J Natural Med 1996;3(8):14-20.

16. Narita Y, Satowa H, Kokubu T, et al. Treatment of epileptic patients with the Chinese herbal medicine "saiko-keishi-to" (SK). IRCS Med Sci 1982;10:88-89.

17. Packer M, Kligler B. Bupleurum for the treatment of epilepsy. Int J Chin Med 1984;1(2): 55-58.

18. Nagabuko S, Niwa SI, Kumagai N, et al. Effects of TJ-960 on Sternberg's paradigm results in epileptic patients. Jpn J Psychiatry Neurol 1993;47:609-620.

19. Arnold WN. Vincent van Gogh and the thujone connection. JAMA 1988;260:3042-3044.

20. Eisenberg DM, Davis, RB, Ettner SL, et al. Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997: results of a follow-up national survey. JAMA 1998;280:1569-1575.

My Life My Diet

My Life My Diet

I lost over 60 pounds and 4+ inches off my waist without pills, strenuous exercise, or any of the things that the diet experts tell you to do...and I did it in less than 4 months! If you have the desire, and can read through my e-book , then this is for you! I could have easily made it a lot more difficult, with stacks of information that people will never read, but why?

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment