A DRUG is "any chemical, or combination of chemicals, which causes biological activity above and beyond purely nutritional value, or as labeled by the FDA."
(with a few exceptions: insulin, B12 injections, and folic acid (over 1mg), and certain other nutrients and ingredients 'natural' (to the body) are still regulated as 'drugs' by the FDA - to limit abuse and misuse... because too much CAN hurt you).
Yes, companies should have safety concerns for the quality of the ingredients they use in their product; and consumers should expect some rational accountability, especially when ingredients come from countries most American's can't safely drink the water or eat fresh vegetables from the commercial fields in that nation. (However, spring 2018, the tainted E.coli outbreak with Romaine Lettuce, was traced back to a mega production farm in Yuma, AZ. Serious and repeated washing, prior to consumption, *might* have helped).
Bulk ingredients should be tested for containments, heavy metals, and have some consistency standards someone with a nutritionist background can actually justify. Much information and science already exists... and sadly is often ignored by many 'product buyers' in stores, opting to reward those big advertising budgets, regardless of quality, safety, or effectiveness. Consumers just have to take the time to look beyond the smoke & mirrors, big ad campaigns, and avoid products using celebrities being paid to promote stuff they didn't actually spend their own money on or use prior to being hired.
There is a long list of herbs, which act as ‘blood thinners’ OR interfere with clotting.
Here are a few herbs, still commonly found in supplements sold for 'daily use' that should be a valid concern (and warning flag) for all consumers:
(listed in alphabetical order) angelica, anise, arnica, asafetida, bog bean, capsicum, celery, chamomile, clove, danshen, fenugreek, feverfew, garlic, ginger, gingko, ginseng, horse chestnut, horseradish, licorice, meadowsweet, papain, passion flower, poplar, prickly ash, quassia, red clover, turmeric, wild carrot, wild lettuce, willow, and many others… but these all have science demonstrating they absolutely impact and can negatively effect blood flow, and clotting.
Most are not a serious problem, for healthy people in low doses, under normal circumstances. But... these are just some that are actually on the ‘watch list’ for anesthesiologists, and emergency room surgeons, because of their direct impact on the heart and blood flow, especially in emergency and surgical situations.
To complicate matters further, many people are getting several of these herbs at the same time, on a pretty regular basis, in their cocktail of daily supplements. More often with those people that are actively using herbal supplements, and products labeled as ‘all natural’ pain, control, or quick healing promoters. People, especially those with clotting and pressure issues, should be extra careful with any ingredients that can influence clotting and bleeding. Awareness is key.
Yes, there should be appropriate warnings (listing all known and suspected real concerns) for all pharmacologically active substances used in a product which can be potentially dangerous if over used, abused, or there is an emergency situation.
There should be some balance... and common sense employed... as well as real consumer education.
Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients natural TO THE BODY should be regulated (governmentally) differently than 'ingredients' that have 'drug activity' (pharmacological activity). The difference being, those 'nutrients' natural to the body shouldn't be burdened with over regulation, so long as reasonable safety concerns exist in the company (and their formula).
Herbs have little to no nutritional value, but they do contain various chemicals, some with very specific biological activity within a body. Therefore, Herbs are drugs. The distinction between medicinal herbs and pharmaceuticals is completely a fallacy.
However, Medicinal Herbs are typically marketed based upon tradition and anecdotal testimonials with insufficient scientific evidence for safety or efficacy, consistency, potency, or actual limitations to the use.
For example, a person taking a regular dose of ginko biloba, turmeric, and a long list of other 'herbal' remedies cannot undergo certain major surgeries because they could bleed to death.
Many herbal remedies will absolutely interfere with anesthesia (in the event of a surgery)... either increasing its effectiveness, or interfering with it's ability to block the pain, or otherwise 'put the person under.'
Many medicinal herbs have been shown to actually change the 'uptake' and strength of different medications, vitamins, and even common nutrients necessary to a healthy body.
Source and Processing are also vital, Some herbal products really do have unhealthy and potentially dangerous levels of heavy metals (often found in cheap minerals, and plants grown in soils from counties that have water 'we' (Americans) couldn't drink, using fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides long since outlawed in most countries... and ultimately, just aren't very regulated for their quality control). While 'heavy metals' do not have an immediate effect, science has proven they can build up in in the body, especially the liver, kidneys, and brain... until the impacted organ stops working correctly.
For instance, yucca, promoted as being great for relieving pain and inflammation, contains steroid saponins, chemicals that are directly related to the steroids, which can actually cause joint degeneration with daily, prolonged use.
Understand, since plants can't fight off insects or animals that want to eat them, some plants contain chemicals that cause changes in the way the predator's body works. These chemicals do many different things in the body that eats them.
Some act like the body's own hormones (like testosterone, estrogen, even steroids), while some actually attack the body's immune system.
Depending on the specific plant (chemicals), the amount eaten, contaminants allowed, frequency of the dosing, and the size and type of animal or person, ingestion of medicinal herbs really can be dangerous... and many actually have some scientifically documented cases of seriously negative interactions, and/or consequences, including death, abortions, seizures, or an altered activity of the nervous system.
Many herbs can also be used as antibiotics and anti-fungals, because they can also kill bacteria and fungus.
Nutrition and health products are part of a tricky multi-billon dollar industry. Although it appears that nearly any company can 'jump in,' not all companies have truly effective products, ethical values, and an honest NUTRITIONAL BACKGROUND.
Most 'product' studies are funded BY THE MANUFACTURER of that product, which has an absolute vested interest, therefore reason to skew the facts and selectively pick which points of fact (and numbers) to focus on (and which to avoid). There should be at least two years of safety studies involving NEW INGREDIENTS used in a product that hasn't been previously studied by some independent third-party, college or university, somewhere in the world (not funded by the company wanting the ingredient approved). Understand, most 'nutrients' and 'herbs' have a lot of data on them. The studies should include biopsies of the organs, especially brain, liver, kidneys, and heart of test animals (monogastric mammals, such as mice, rats, pigs, etc. as appropriate).
No one can obviously know IF there are any dangers or damage from an ingredient (especially with drug activity) when there is daily prolonged use for months and years... unless the studies last that long. Anything else is just speculation, and purposeful overdosing to gain some quick 'safety parameters.'
It is vital that safe and ethical studies were done ON INGREDIENTS, preferably by third party science types that have no vested interest in the ingredient, product, or company(ies) selling the product. Otherwise... you, your loved ones, or someone know could be the next 'guinea pig.' A basic safety 'study' really should be on each and every INGREDIENT CONTAINED WITHIN THE PRODUCT!
The negative effects may take days, weeks, months and, sometimes, even years.
A lot depends on three factors:
~ 1) the company - the quality, consistency, and accuracy of the label... and what is actually IN THE PRODUCT.
~ 2) the individual body, the quantity taken, a person's diet, other supplements being used, quality of the ingredients ingested, and the specific herb used.
~ 3) ENVIRONMENT – what the usual diet, water supply, exercise, and genetics are… can also have an impact upon how nutrients are used, stored, and expelled from a body.
The one thing that is certain is that every single drug in existence – whether 'natural' or synthetic – will eventually cause one or more of the above RANTS problems if they are overused, misused, or abused – and that includes daily use for more than a few weeks.
The number of products claiming to help this or that have been growing rapidly over the last 30 years. You can't avoid the array of advertisements claiming some 'magic bullet' or 'miracle cure' or will 'eliminate _______ problems' or 'cure ________' (you fill in the blanks).
and is the most common type, especially on store shelves. The reality is that all oral supplements offering a 'quick fix' are using ingredients (usually herbs: plant derived drugs) that merely mask, cover, or block the symptoms. While they can help with the pain, they ultimately allow the body to continue getting worse, and often causing further injury or problems.
by supplying the body the building blocks necessary to help the body heal itself (when possible), in forms it can readily use, which is the best long term option.
This second option is not the 'quick fix.' It does not eliminate the pain and suffering in hours or days, but over time... as healing occurs. But it is far better for the body.
(Hint: if you're in pain, use pain killers as prescribed, as necessary, but never daily, for prolonged periods of time!)
Please don't misunderstand. There are some good and beneficial herbs, but they are ALL PLANT-DERIVED DRUGS and should not be used each and every day for a prolonged period of time.
People really need to understand, and remember, just because things are 'natural' doesn't mean that they are natural to the body or that they are good to use daily. Or that they will remain 'good' if over used, misused, or otherwise abused.
Certain plants, like grass, hay, wheat, as well as most fruits and vegetables... were initially designed 'as food' stuff, to 'nourish' a body, and are things mammals can usually safely eat... but there really are some people that have very real allergies to certain types of food stuff. Peanuts are one of the most common allergies here in America.
Natural isn’t always 'safe' or necessarily any better than the processed, manufactured, or even the synthetic versions.
Some herbs have a proven history of really being life-threatening under a variety of circumstances.
For example, a person taking a regular dose of just ten milligrams (10mg) of gingko biloba, or many other 'herbs'; spices, can NOT suffer head trauma or undergo certain major surgeries because they could bleed to death (God help them if they were also taking some type of blood thinner, or blood pressure medicine at the same time).
Turmeric is another amazing 'medicinal herb' (especially when combined with curcumin and black pepper)... BUT it too is a blood thinner, even at low doses, and too much really can hurt you... especially if have an emergency or you're already on some type of blood thinners.
(These type of herbs can affect your pet also, and that pet can’t tell you they are having a problem).
Any ingredients that thin the blood or alter It should be used wisely, with awareness and caution.
Despite a string of negative study results regarding a variety of herbal ingredients, the 'holistic medicine' and herbal remedy industry continues to rake in tens of billions of dollars every year... filling store shelves with either garbage that doesn't really work, or 'works' merely by blocking symptoms (not what most of the products claim they are doing). The companies develop infomercials for the tv, radio, and facebook making an assortment of miracle claims, and uninformed consumers continue buying into the bait and switch game.
Medicinal herbs have no business being protected, or included, under DSHEA (the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act). Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients 'natural to the body' are one thing, but medicinal herbs can have very real pharmacological activity, and even life threatening drug-drug interactions. Further, medicinal herbs can have exactly the same type of potential for side effects - as well as toxicity - as any commercially prescribed drug. OTC herbs' danger *might* be mitigated slightly, only by the fact that most herbal products generally contain low doses of active ingredients (when used as directed).
Sadly, the very real dangers and honest negative studies seem to have little impact on the sales of herbal products and supplements with the wrong form of active ingredients overall (although they may affect the relative popularity of specific herbs to some extent).
Store shelves, and advertising are riddled with garbage products. Companies can market medicinal herbs without any prior approval from the FDA or need to provide any evidence of safety or effectiveness of the ingredients they use in their products.
The actual ingredients under some 'proprietary made up name' on the label, which means we might not even know what the exact active ingredients are... or what amounts there are.
Many herbal supplements tested off the shelf by a third party were found to NOT HAVE what the label claimed. Some companies even claim that their product supports the structure or function of the body in some way, as long as they don’t mention a specific disease by name. All of this amounts to some massive loopholes easily exploited by any unethical company.
The result of allowing medicinal herbs to fall under DSHEA has been an explosion of herbs into the supplement industry, flooding the marketplace with useless products and false claims.
It would seem to be reasonable and responsible to require manufacturers and marketers of medicinal herbal products to actually prove their products are really safe, as well as effective for whatever they claim it treats. Not only is this not required under the current guidelines, but more importantly, companies can actually continue to market their herbs with claims that have been contradicted by major scientific studies funded by taxpayer dollars. One would think the Federal Trade Commission would step in, under the Truth in Advertising regulations, but that hasn't happened yet.
For the most part, consumers are left to their own devices to sort out which products are likely to be useful... which is why consumers are seeing more celebrity endorsements, and rows of herbal supplements in chain stores.
For more information on herbal supplements, visit the following sites:
Thanks to scientists around the world, and resources made available through the internet like PubMed, WebMD, Dr. Miller's Nutritional Notes on MD's Choice,, and assorted other options... there really is some good science on-line. The problem is that there is also a lot of stuff that is less than honest regarding dangers, limits, and valid concerns. Less than scientific, with their number 1 goal selling, rather than education.
The Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) was the largest randomized, placebo-controlled trial ever conducted, with results officially reviewed in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. The primary goal of the study was to investigate what glucosamine and/or chondroitin actually did, and how it worked in a body, and if it effected osteoarthritis.
Signup for a FREE Report covering many different ingredients COMMONLY FOUND IN JOINT SUPPLEMENTS: The Good, Bad, and Useless ingredients, based on scientific studies, and professional evaluations, studies, and years of experience treating patients.
While there aren't nearly as many as one would think, there are quite a few. The list is interesting, and some are still sold in the USA... but for different purposes or under a different name.
Yes, there really are things we, as end users, can do to maximize the supplements we do take. This is a list of such things, and should help you maximize your supplements benefit while reducing the waste, cost, and issues.
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