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Herbal Supplements Essay

One of the most heavily debated topics in pharmaceuticals is the regulation of prescription drugs versus over the counter herbal supplements. The Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, studies prescription drugs for years before releasing and allowing them to be prescribed to the public. Up until 2010, the FDA was able to regulate herbal supplements (1). The information I came across was new and shocking to me for I am guilty of taking a few herbal supplements, and my parents take multiple on a daily basis.

I did not know that products can claim a nutrient deficiency, support health, or are linked to specific body functions without the FDA’s approval (1). Even though these botanical and all natural herbal supplements are almost everywhere, they do not mean that they are safe for anyone’s use! Many of these supplements contain strong ingredients that could potentially harm ones body. The FDA only controls an herbal supplements strength, purity, and composition before releasing it onto the market (1).

In 2004 the FDA banned ephedra, an herbal supplement used to treat asthma, hay fever, and the common cold (2). The herbal supplement was causing extreme side effects in many users including heart attacks and some deaths. I found that Kava has led to liver problems and resulting in some users having to go as far as to geting a liver transplant (3). The supplement Comfrey was found to be linked to ulcers and Pennyroyal was found to be linked to kidney and liver damage (3). It makes one wonder how these supplements were allowed to be sold in the first place with all this lack of testing and all these extreme side effects. Webmd.com said that almost all supplements contain contaminents (3)! I was not aware that I was putting my health into risk from buying products said to be “natural” and “herbal”, but actually and are easily sold at almost every local convenience store.

It has been said that “herbal supplements should be regulated the same way as prescription drugs”. I agree with this statement for there has proven to be risk in taking herbal supplements. Almost all herbal supplements are released to the public whereas a series of tests have to be done before a drug in the pharmaceutical industry is approved and released, leaving only a small ending percentage of the originally tested drugs to be released. Both herbal supplements and prescription drugs influence ones body through chemical procedures and, therefore, should be treated and regulated equally. Both drugs could potentially cause harm to someone. I believe that the government should form new policies regulating herbal supplements

I was not aware of the potential dangers and lack of regulation in these “natural” medicines. I will definitely be a lot more careful and do more research before blindly purchasing one again. Webmd.com shows ways to research and test these herbal supplements before using them for they are very risky (3). I think everyone should be knowledgeable on this topic for this is just new information to me.

(1)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/herbal-supplements/SA00044 (2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephedra

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