Medical Articles

How Safe Are Your Herbal Supplements?

Many of us are untrusting of drugs approved by the FDA. All too often you see commercials on TV about the possible side effects of certain drugs and about class-action suits against pharmaceutical companies because of resulting side effects. Because of this, many of us have turned to herbal supplements found in our local natural health stores. These supplements are not approved by the FDA, but because they are marketed as "all natural", most people trust them and think nothing of taking them as part of a daily routine.

Sadly, new evidence is showing that many of these herbal supplements can also be hazardous to our health. In addition to many of these supplements manufacturers making bogus claims as to exactly what this or that supplement will help cure, studies have shown that many of these supplements can contain high levels of metals in them, including mercury and lead.

Furthermore, an alarming number of the supplements tested contain high levels of pesticide residues; higher than legal limits. With recent studies showing there may be a link between chemical pesticides and developmental disorders in children, this news is alarming! Many Americans (nearly a quarter of all adults) chose to take non-FDA approved dietary supplements every day. It is safe to assume, then, that many of these adults also have their children take these same supplements (usually in the form of a multi-vitamin).

Although the FDA has been shown to be untrustworthy in many circumstances, the truth is, they are one of the only organizations out there with the means to test drugs for safety. Unfortunately, because of legislation passed back in 1994, allowing supplement manufactures the ability to produce and sell products that have not been tested and approved by the FDA, we have witnessed a huge increase in the availability of herbal supplements that are not safe for consumption. The fact is, the FDA cannot keep up.

Many of us are upset over the recent Food Safety Bill because we don't necessarily like the FDA fooling with our food and whatnot, but the truth is, at least in this situation, it may be better to have an established organization setting guidelines when it comes to food safety.

At least by taking drugs approved by the FDA we know that the metal levels and pesticide levels are within legal limits. A good rule of thumb when it comes to any new drug on the market is to wait at least five years after it's been approved; that's when you start seeing the side effects come out. If you chose to take non-FDA approved dietary supplements, just be sure to do your research and keep your ear to the ground.

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