“Everything on Earth has a purpose, Every Disease an Herb to Cure it and Every person a mission.”
The Native Americans along with my very own Ancestors utilized natural herbals to treat various illnesses, aches, and pains. This has become a lost practice of the past? I can vividly remember my grandmother growing various plants/herbals and when indicated she would make teas or salves for us when we were ill. Obviously, others can recall these same memories in that under the term Complimentary Alternative Medicine (CAM), 33.2% of the American population has resorted to the use of some form of CAM rather it is the use of Natural Products (herbals and supplements), Mind Body Practices (meditation, yoga and massages) and Other Complementary Health Approaches (homeopathy, naturopathy and Ayurveda). However, of the three forms of CAM, the most popular used complementary approach is the use of Natural Products, to be exact 18% of us are seeking the natural health effects derived from the use of herbals in the form of teas, saves and supplements.
Where did the herbal gardens go? Unlike our ancestors who knew what to grow, when to grow, when to harvest and how to process various herbs; present day, the skillful art has fallen into the hands of large companies and manufacturers. I trusted my grandmother who gave me mint tea picked from her back yard when my stomach was upset. My concern today is, can I have that same level of trust in the present-day manufacturers.
Present-day Herbal Gardens are minimally regulated under a system called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), incidentally, not by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are no governmental regulations governing the production of herbals and nutritional supplements. For this reason, I personally have safety concerns because these findings have been recently reported in the literature.
- Herbals and Supplements are sold without any testing for efficiency providing only Reasonable Assurance of Safety, meaning “No Proof”
- Companies do not have to present evidence that the product even works or do what it is supposed to do.
- With limited oversight controls, there have been reported various risk of adulteration and Contamination found within the products.
- Inadequate packaging information
- The most dreaded of all, unknown toxicities and interactions.
The lack of proper oversight of herbals is disturbing, however, there are three other organizations/agencies other than DSHEA which offer relatively good oversight in rating the overall quality and purity of herbal products. Yet, I find it absolutely mind blowing that it is perfectly legal for manufacturers to choose not to utilize these agencies, it is only an option. I have high regards for those few manufacturers who choose to utilize these agencies to assure the purity and quality of their products. I tend to search the back of herbal and supplement containers before purchasing for the following quality logos:
- (a) USP: United States Pharmacopeia Dietary Supplement Verification
- (b) Consumer Lab.com
- (c) NSF International.
The days of our Ancestor’s herbal gardens are becoming a pleasant memory of the past as our dependency has fallen into the hands of manufacturers. Maybe one day with the growing interest in the usage of herbals the FDA, EPA, Farming groups, Extractors and Manufacturers will come together to set quality ethical standards and perhaps then and only then will my trust be restored.
Always remember to talk to your health care provider prior to initiating any type of herbal or supplemental regimen. When purchasing your herbals be sure to look for one of the quality indicators (logos) on the label of your product for extra assurance of product safety and quality.
Knowledge is Power-Be Safe and Stay Healthy!