August 15, 2011
Herbal Products: Buyer Beware
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Many people use herbal medicines believing them to be safe simply because they are 'natural'. However many of these products have potentially dangerous interactions with other drugs and can have similar side effects to conventional drugs. This new study reveals that many over-the-counter herbal products do not contain any of the key information required for safe use.
Despite their wholesome image, many herbal products have adverse effects and a third of users are completely unaware of any risks. Researchers from the University of Leeds bought 68 different preparations of five commonly used remedies (St John's wort, Asian ginseng, Echinacea, garlic and Ginkgo) at two well-known health food stores, three large chain pharmacies, and three pharmacies at supermarkets. The information provided with these products was compared to safety information, provided by the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and was evaluated for completeness and accuracy regarding precautions, interactions with other drugs, and side effects.
SOURCE: BMC Medicine, published online August 2011