More Americans, concerned about the side effects of conventional treatment and their high costs, are turning to herbal supplements. About 60% of the American public is using herbal supplements for various health reasons such as to aid in weight loss, for digestive disorders, as sleep aids, as anti-aging products, to help support a healthy heart, immune system, and as proactive measures against cancer.Since herbal supplements come under dietary supplements, the FDA has not established any strict rules and regulations regarding their manufacturing. Just about anybody can come up with an herbal supplement. Since most of them make the same promises, and most contain the same herbs, is there any difference between the brands? How can you make sure you are getting a quality herbal supplement that will effectively work the desired health benefits for you?When it comes to herbal supplements, a good, basic education on herbs and how they are processed will help you decide the right brand for you. Here are a few simple guidelines to assist you with the decision-making process.
Go for a Reputed Manufacturer, Upholding GMPs
The manufacturing of herbal supplements requires precision. Specific parts of the plant are used for specific health purposes. Sometimes formulas require the root, sometimes the leaves, or just the bark. The initial testing by a manufacturer would need to confirm that the specific part is used, from the specific botanical species.Once this is confirmed, the quality of the botanicals needs to be tested. Herbs are usually grown on organic farms. Before being taken to the lab, the manufacturer needs to test the raw materials to make sure that the botanical specimens are free from contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, molds, fertilizers, etc. The herbal supplements need to be manufactured under strict Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), usually under cold processing and procedures that preserve the bio-active ingredients of the plant. A manufacturer who adheres to GMPs will ensure that quality is maintained at every stage of production. Sub-standard manufacturing methods will lead to an inferior quality product or render the product altogether redundant for your specific health needs.Many herbal supplement manufacturers do not conform to GMPs. Consumers need to be aware that such manufacturers exist. Your best choice would be to choose a manufacturer that abides by and adheres to GMPs.
Study Herbal Supplement Labels
The FDA requires that dietary supplements follow specific label format which must include Supplement Facts. The goal of this is to provide enough information for the consumer to make an informed decision regarding the use of the dietary supplement. The information should contain:
Don’t Go by Face Value Alone
Many manufacturers package their product very attractively. Or carry sensational testimonials on their websites to prove the effectiveness of their products. This should not be the guiding factor towards making a decision. An accurate knowledge of the herbs you plan to take would help you make the wisest choice.It is always good to check out the manufacturer. They should have their own website with contact information. Do they have a good reputation? How many years have they been in this business and what kind of credibility have they built? What are some of the other products they manufacture? Do all of them have a consistent reputation? Call up their customer service. Ask relevant questions about the product. Their customer service should be willing and helpful in clearing any doubts you may have about the product.
Educate Yourself on Herbs
Be a responsible consumer of herbal supplements. Study the herbal supplement you intend to use before you purchase it. The Internet will provide you with factual information on:
If you are still unsure, consult your doctor. In the end, it’s about you and your health needs. You need to feel safe with the brand that you’ve chosen. It’s about having confidence and trust, based on factual information, that your choice of herbal supplements will supply you the health benefits you’re seeking.
This content was originally published here.