What You Need to Know Before Taking Herbal Supplements


Herbal supplements are an essential way to take charge of your health and wellness in natural ways. Global regulations ensure that each product meets specific manufacturing standards. Still, these rules cannot guarantee that what you purchase is either safe or effective.

It is up to you to perform your due diligence before purchasing to ensure your money goes toward high-quality products. 

Herbal manufacturers in the United States don’t require the FDA’s approval to put products on store shelves. All herbs, including natural products, can have medication-like effects on the body. 

Anything with the power to lower your cholesterol or blood sugar carries a side effect risk to consider.

Before you start taking anything new, it helps to speak with your doctor. If you take prescription medications, check to see if adverse interactions could happen. Anyone with chronic health problems, women who are pregnant, or breastfeeding should also have a medical consultation before taking herbal supplements.

How Safe Are Herbal Supplements?

The FDA regulates herbal supplements differently than they do with food or medication. These products get classified as a dietary supplement. That means five rules govern the industry under the current set of standards.

  • Companies cannot make specific medical claims about their products.
  • Manufacturers do not need FDA approval before they start selling their items.
  • A product can claim to address nutrient deficiencies, provide health supports, or mention links to specific body functions if they can produce supporting research. Companies must include a disclaimer that says the FDA hasn’t evaluated the claim.
  • All manufacturers must follow the current good manufacturing practices to meet quality standards. This rule prevents contaminants and incorrect ingredients from entering the supply stream.
  • When the FDA finds an unsafe product, it has the authority to take action against the producer, distributor, and manufacturer. The outcome may include warnings or a demand to remove the product from the market.

These rules cannot guarantee that an herbal supplement is safe for everyone to use. Natural products pose unexpected risks because the active ingredients create robust outcomes in the body.

It is not unusual for herbal supplements and some prescribed medications to create harmful results. That’s why most medicines have warnings not to take them with grapefruit-related supplements.

How to Take Herbal Supplements Safely

Once you’ve completed your homework and spoken to your doctor about the supplements you want to take, you’ll want to play it safe by planning ahead in these areas.

First, follow the instructions from the supplement manufacturer in their entirety. Do not exceed the recommended dose or take the item longer than recommended.

Next, it helps to keep track of what you consume. It may be useful to take a single supplement first to determine if it’s helpful. If the item doesn’t work as intended, you can stop using it right away.

It is best to choose your supplement brand wisely. The product should receive third-party evaluation and testing.

Finally, check with the FDA periodically for alerts and advisories. This last step ensures that you can stay as safe as possible when taking a supplement. 

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