Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July Marks Herbal/Prescription Awareness Month

The popularity of herbal and dietary medications taken in the United States has increased in recent years due to consumers looking for way to maintain their health through other means than regular pharmaceutical products. The problem with these herbal medications also known as dietary supplements is that they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Not only are they not regulated before they are marketed to consumers, but they also have no consistencies on the dosage amounts. While pharmaceutical companies are held to standards where they are required to perform studies on effectiveness, dosage and safety, those who produce herbal supplements do not have these same requirements.

Popular supplements that consumers take regularly include vitamins, fish oil, ginseng, flaxseed and glucosamine, to name a few. While these supplements are generally safe, other supplements can be potentially harmful and can cause adverse reactions when mixed with other medications. Consumers can be thrown off by the idea of the product being natural, that they assume it is safe. But since these supplements are not regulated, the dosages can vary from batch to batch and differing brands. There could also be exposure to dangerous pesticides.

So remember, before taking any type of herbal or natural supplement; make sure to do your research! Locate dependable, well-known brands that have a reputation for providing healthy products. You can also discuss with your doctor any supplement you plan on taking especially if you are looking to add it to help treat a health condition or improve your wellness.
Do not hesitate to discuss any supplement use with your health care provider if you are:

·         Planning on replacing regular medication taken with a supplement

·         Taking any medication and plan on adding a supplement (you want to make sure they do not have bad interactions)

·         Planning on having surgery. Some supplements can increase bleeding or affect anesthesia

·         Pregnant or nursing a baby. Most supplements have not been tested on pregnant women and therefore it is not know whether these supplements are safe.

If you take a supplement and are having any unusual reactions or are not sure about a medication taken, please contact a poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If you are having life threatening reactions to a supplement taken, please do not hesitate to call 9-1-1.

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