Natural health products include drugs, medical devices and other natural products. These are regulated by several different agencies but mostly by the food and drug administration. That is because while these products may have “health” benefits, they are classified as a food. So as long as they list their main ingredients and what health benefits those ingredients may have, they can be marketed for sale as a natural health product.
The Food and Drug Administration must be contacted for health and safety concerns, and the Federal Trade Commission handle unlawful or fraudulent marketing. Although the trend toward natural health products is recent, some of these remedies have been used for hundreds of years. Many products have little scientific data that proves that they really do work. To make an informed decision when deciding what natural health products to use, it is important to weight the risks and benefits. Remember that even though the product may say “natural” it does not necessarily mean that it is good for humans. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Many drugs come from natural or herbal sources and many herbal products are drugs.
- Natural health products can interact with other medications; contact your doctor to inform them of any products you may be taking.
- The effectiveness of the natural health product may depend on which part of the plant that it was extracted from and it is important to recognize if a product is using the wrong part of the plant.
- These products are not strictly controlled – be aware of quality and safety issues of the brands that you buy.
- To keep yourself safe, avoid any product that makes outrageous claims. Usually if it is too good to be true it is.
- Buy natural health remedies that come from reputable businesses. Most pharmacists can help you make this decision.
- Know the adverse effects before consuming a natural health product.
- Do not take herbal medicine during pregnancy. Most of the effects are unknown on unborn children and the few side effects that are known are harmful.
- Do not use natural health products like herbal medication on children – the proper dosage is unknown, and certain plants in large quantities are toxic to adults.
- Some people replace their conventional medication with natural health products. This can compromise your health and these natural health products are usually not replacements for existing prescription medications.
Many people jump on the natural health product bandwagon because they think that anything in nature is good for the body. It is important to remember that while nature created sweet things like fruit and vegetables, it also created snakes and wasps. The same principals apply to natural health products, just in a broader scale. Most natural health products are harmless, but some taken in large quantities can often be very dangerous. Some people have allergies that make natural health products dangerous, especially when dealing with unknown ingredients.
It is very easy to feel good about buying all natural products and to feel like you are improving your health the natural way, but it is also important to remember that while a product can be all natural, it also can be made with poor quality ingredients. Poor quality ingredients like bad fruit or poorly processed leaves can make you ill, so it is important to use caution when trying out natural health products.