Wellness: Herbal Supplements

Taking herbal supplements is a popular way for people to manage their health but there is very little research-based evidence proving effectiveness.  Even though herbal supplements are considered safe for most people, there are some dangers involved.  You should consult with and follow the advice of your doctor before taking any over-the-counter supplements.

Herbal Supplement Regulation:

  • Companies must follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)
  • Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval not required before marketing
  • Manufacturers not required to prove safety or effectiveness
  • FDA monitors safety after product is on the market
  • Companies can make health claims if FDA disclaimer included on labeling

Check Manufacturers’ Claims:

Label Information:

  • Name of the herbal supplement
  • Name and address of manufacturer or distributor
  • Complete list of ingredients
  • Serving size, amount, and active ingredient

Use extra caution with herbal supplements if you:

  • Take prescription medication
  • Have a chronic disease or illness
  • Are a pregnant or breast-feeding woman
  • Are under 18 or over 65

For most effective use of herbal supplements:

  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist before using
  • Avoid supplements with more than one herbal ingredient
  • Follow manufacturers’ dosage directions
  • Avoid herbal supplements made in places other than theUSAorEurope
  • Educate yourself about any possible side effects or interactions
  • Look forUnited StatesPharmacopeia (USP) Verified Dietary Supplement
  • Check expiration date
  • Avoid allergy-causing ingredients (wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, soy), artificial colors & flavors, unnecessary additives( high fructose corn syrup, carmine, shellac)


  • Effective in reducing severity of cold symptoms
  • Considered safe for short-term use-10 days
  • Various possible side effects
  • May affect the absorption of some medications; interacts with caffeine

Ginkgo Biloba:

  • Helpful in treatment of blood flow disorders
  • Used to treat age-related dementia (esp. inEurope)
  • Various possible side effects
  • Caution if you have bleeding problems, diabetes, or seizures
  • Interacts with NSAIDS such as ibuprofen and naproxen

St. John’s Wort:

  • Helpful in treating mild to moderate depression
  • Various possible side effects
  • Reduces effectiveness of birth control pills and some heart disease medications


  • Alleviates symptoms of menopause including hot flashes
  • Use daily for three months for maximum effectiveness


  • Targets the cause of migraines by preventing the constriction of blood vessels
  • Take 1200mg at onset of headache

 Glucosamine and Chondrotin:

  • For joint pain from osteoarthritis
  • Most effective when taken together
  • 1500mg of Glucosamine and 1200mg of Chondrotin daily

WEIGHT MANAGEMENT SUPPLEMENTS: some evidence of effectiveness; use in addition to healthy eating and exercise

EGCG epigallocatechin-3-gallate:

  • Found in green tea; may help with fat oxidation
  • 90-125mg green tea extract three times daily before meals

CLA conjugated linoleic acid: fatty acid that occurs naturally in dairy and red meat

  • Helps decrease body fat and increase lean body mass
  • 1.7 grams twice a day or 3.2-3.6 grams daily

Chromium Picolinate or Histidinate:

  • Targets fat
  • 200mcg three times a day

HCA hydroxycitric acid:

  • Appetite suppressant derived from a tropical fruit
  • 1500mg three times daily 30 minutes before meals


  • Fiber that acts as a laxative to absorb water
  • Reduces hunger by making you feel full

Cayenne Pepper/Ginger/Mustard:

  • Boosts metabolism to burn fat
  • Reduces appetite
  • Sprinkle on food or take capsules


  • May lower appetite and help with fat oxidation
  • Too much causes jitteriness, headaches, and fast heartbeat


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