What are herbal supplements?

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When we talk about alternative home therapy, herbal supplements can come into mind. These supplements are products that are from plants. It can be from flowers, roots, and leaves. We commonly use herbal supplements to promote general health and cosmetics. You may have heard of Aloe Vera gel that may help with burns, acne, and dry skin. The Aloe Vera pills may help with constipation as well. 

It is very important to know the difference between supplements versus prescription drugs. Both herbal supplements and prescription drugs need to be safe. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider herbal supplements as food products. This means herbal supplements do not have the same rules compared to prescription drugs. (See chart below) 

 SupplementsPrescription Drugs
Does it have to be safe?YesYes
Does it have to be effective?NoYes
Does it need good manufacturing steps?YesYes
Does it need long term studies?NoYes
Can it claim to cure or treat diseases?NoYes

If you look at any herbal supplement bottle you have at home, it will say an FDA disclaimer. The disclaimer tells us that the FDA has not evaluated the supplement. No herbal supplements can say that they can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

What good are herbal supplements then?

Saying that herbal supplements do not work at all is not correct either. There are many studies about herbal supplements. The studies support that herbal supplements may have positive effects when used properly. American Diabetes Association has a study posted about how cinnamon can lower sugar levels in diabetic patients. Always be a smart consumer. Do not just believe everything that is on herbal supplements bottles. Make sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist to see which herbal supplement is right for you. 

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