dietary supplementsFor brevity ,this post may, essentially,  exclude vitamins and Minerals. The worldwide market for these products in over 50 Billion US$.  American, European, South American, Asian, and African civilizations have all, sometime or the other, made use of botanicals or say plants and their extracts for healing purposes.

What are they and what are essential guidelines and expert comments on this?- A Review

Some most important or common supplmenst that you would have heard or read about could include: Acai (Euterpe oleracea) , Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Cimicifuga racemosa), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) Capsicum pepper, cayenne (Capsicum frutescens, Capsicum annuum) , Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinol, Ubiquinone, Ubidecarenone), Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon, Vaccinium oxycoccos), Creatine, DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), Echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia), Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis), Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), Fish oil, Flax, flaxseed oil, linseed (Linum usitatissimum), Garlic (Allium sativum), Ginkgo biloba, Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, Panax ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus), Glucosamine and chondroitin, Green tea (Camellia sinensis), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna, Horse chestnut seed extract (Escin, Aesculus hippocastanum) , Kava kava (Piper methysticum), Melatonin, Milk thistle (Silymarin, Silybum marianum), Omega-3 fatty acids, Probiotics, Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), Soy isoflavones (Glycine max), St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) etc.

The list goes on and is very exhaustive I think and opened a new paradigm of me actually thinking there were only a few out there. I would, have loved to take each one and talk about their advocated use and benefits alongside any harms (say toxicity) they may cause in the longer run but feel it is a food for thought and will take them one on one in following posts.

Though some countries regulate sale and prescribing these formulations or extract most people use these for purpose of enhancing health, and helping themselves to use these wonder self medication potions for, common chronic symptoms or diseases such as memory loss, arthritis, and fatigue.

A similar product’s efficacy, safety, and therefore clinical usefulness remains to be dependent upon its quality parameters such as – Plant species used, Plant parts used, Harvesting and storage conditions, Processing, Accuracy of labelling, Standardization and of course the Purity.

Nevertheless, talking about the efficacy, more recent adequately powered rigorous double-blind placebo-controlled trials of standardized well-defined preparations suggest the contrary. On the other hand, several herbal medicines and dietary supplements evaluated in controlled trials show therapeutic promise.

You would be surprised to know that some like alfala, juniper, burdock & alovera have a hypoglycemic (Low sugar levels) effect when tested in labs, while some like devils claw and ginseng have a hyperglycemic (high blood sugar levels) affect on the body.

Alfalfa, Fenugreek, Cohosh, Garlic or Ginger have a hypocholesterolemic ( Low Lipid – cholesterol) effect while, some like the Hydrocolyte, Plaintain, Scullap and Tansy increase cholesterol levels.

Herbs to be taken with caution as they tend to affect harmone levs include alfla, Aniseed, Bayberry, Fucus, Ginseng, Motherwort or red clover from a growing list of over the counter preparations being sold.

You would be as surprised to learn that some also make you hypertensive ands this list includes Bayberry, Broom, capsicum, Cola, Gentin, Ginseng, Mate’ and vervain.

An up to date summary and recommendations, appropriate would be as under:

Herbal treatments are widely used by patients in the United States and elsewhere. They have the potential for both benefit and harm.

Patients should be asked about use of herbal treatments in a nonjudgmental manner as part of the medication history.

Patients can be advised about herbal product use or avoidance based upon a product’s quality, efficacy, and safety .

Uncertainty in quality and the relatively few well-designed studies make it difficult for physicians to proactively recommend herbal therapies for most patients.

When patients decide to use herbal therapies they should be monitored for evidence of benefits and harmful effects, including side effects.

We suggest that pregnant and nursing patients be advised to avoid herbal therapies.

An option for counseling patients who seek advice about what brand of herbal medicine to use is to recommend brands that have been tested by independent sources such as Consumer Labs.

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