Choosing An Herbal Supplement: Cautions And Concerns

herbal supplementThere are a variety of herbal supplements available for purchase today, and very little in the way of standardization at this time.

Here are some cautions and concerns to keep in mind when you are considering purchasing an herbal supplement.

  • Single herb products will allow you to know exactly how much of an herb you are getting, while that information may be much harder to determine when you are using a multi-herb blend. Using single herb products will also allow you to determine quickly whether an herb is working for you, or know exactly what is causing a reaction if you have any negative side effects.
  • Look for standardization and certification seals. Certifying groups include Good Housekeeping, NSF International, ConsumerLab, and the U.S. Pharmacopeia. Look for the “USP Dietary Supplement Verified “seal.
  • If you are using any prescription medications, especially medicines for hypertension or anticoagulants, always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking any herbal supplement to avoid dangerous interactions.
  • Certain over-the-counter medications, aspirin for example, can also cause dangerous interactions. Again, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take any medication—over-the-counter, prescription, or herbal—without consulting your doctor first. Things that are safe for you can be dangerous for your baby.
  • Be especially cautious when using herbal supplements in children under the age of 18.
  • You should also be cautious when using herbal supplements in adults over the age of 65 as they are often taking prescription medication and the way they metabolize medications can differ.
  • If you are planning or recovering from surgery, be sure to talk to your doctor about any herbal supplements you may be taking.