[Chlug] To Go or Not to Go Herbal, that is the Question

Sanjohan info at sanjohan.com
Sun Aug 9 21:36:12 EST 2009

Dear Customer,

Many people nowadays are turning to “organics” and “naturals” otherwise
known as herbals. The rising popularity of herbal supplements has
created a new fad if not a new health lifestyle. But before you join the
bandwagon, here are some things you need to know about this mean,
“green” dietary supplementing machine.

What is the difference between a drug and a dietary supplement?

According to the definition set by food and drug administrations in
different countries, drugs are chemicals that can prevent, prolong the
life, treat other effects of a health condition, improve the quality of
life, and/or cure ailments and diseases, or alter the function of any
part or chemicals inside the body. These drugs have approved therapeutic
claims. For example, paracetamol is a drug given to bring down the body
temperature in fever. Ascorbic acid is indicated for the treatment of
scurvy. Iron supplements are given to treat mild cases of anemia. 

Herbal supplements are not classified as drugs but as dietary
supplements. The main difference is that they do not have approved
therapeutic claims unlike in the case of drugs. Moreover, dietary
supplements could either contain vitamins, minerals, herbals, or amino
acids, all aimed to add to or supplement the diet of an individual. They
are not intended to be taken alone as a substitute to any food or

Most of the manufactured medicines we now have once came from animals
and plants. Through the years, chemists isolated the life-saving or
life-curing components and separated them from the harmful ones. This
lead to the further drug research and drug development that lead to the
production of a different variety of drugs for many ailments and
conditions from synthetic sources. But still we have semi-synthetic
drugs, as well as drug that more or less approximate more natural
composition. Since herbal supplements are made from a mixture of crude
herbs reduced into powder or gel form, and later on packaged as tablets
and capsules, there is a possibility that life-threatening or at least
body chemistry-altering components are still present, thus the
expression of concern from the medical community. 

Is there a growing concern with the use of herbal supplements?

Yes. With the rising popularity of using and consuming anything herbal
or organic is the proliferation of fake herbal supplements that threaten
to endanger lives. If that’s the case, then why are herbal supplements
given drug administration approvals? One way of ensuring the safety of
the people is to have all candidate drugs, food, drinks, and dietary
supplements registered with the proper authority. Otherwise, they would
pose more risk with these things being sold in the black market for a
hefty sum. We could ensure the quality and safety of herbal supplements
if they get proper classification with the food and drug administration.
Moreover, people may be able to file the proper complaints in the event
a worsening of health condition is proven to be linked to the use of a
particular herbal supplement. 

Is using herbal supplements worth the risk?

Yes. It cannot be discounted that many who have tried herbal supplements
experienced an improvement in their health—whether this is due to the
herbals themselves or due to a placebo effect, as long as they do not
worsen the condition of an individual, then using them is worth the
risk. But of course, certain things must be considered before taking
those herbal supplements:

Your doctor knows best. 

First of all, clear your condition with your doctor. Ask him/her if
taking a particular herbal supplement is safe given your health
condition. People with heart, liver, or kidney trouble or malfunction,
are usually not advised to take these, or at the minimum is to take
these herbals in minimum amounts. All substances pass through the liver
and kidney to be processed and filtered respectively. Kava, which is
used to relieve people from stress, has been pulled out from the
Canadian, Singaporean, and German markets because it contains substances
that cause liver damage. Certain herbals such as Ephedra used for losing
weight, contains chemicals with heart-inducing effects that can increase
heart rate, which in turn can exhaust the heart and cause heart attacks
in several documented cases by the American Medical Association.

Follow the directions for use.

Never take more herbal supplements than what is directed by the doctor
or as instructed on the bottle. Each individual reacts differently to
the components of herbal supplements. While it is perfectly safe for one
individual to take in a supplement of primrose oil capsules, another
person may be allergic to it. 

Sanjohan - www.sanjohan.com <http://www.sanjohan.com> 
E-mail: info at sanjohan.com <mailto:info at sanjohan.com> 
Tel: +27 21 873 7124
Fax: +27 21 873 7124

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