Saturday, February 27, 2021

Introduction to Herbal Medicine: Dangers & Benefits


Understand what to look for in herbal products with promising benefits…

Any herb information from the manufacture and the marketer of the supplement is a good starting point. Labels and leaflets should be given a complete study before making the decision to purchase the herbal and nutritional supplements.

“Proper herb information from the label is our right as well as privilege as consumers of medicinal plants.”

This important consumer info is better divided into four parts.

  • The Manufacturer And The Marketer
  • The Ingredients & Medicinal Form
  • The Safety, Toxicity & Clinical Research Trials
  • Herbal products over the Internet

The Manufacturer And The Marketer Duo:

Right from the beginning, there can be two possibilities. Either the formulation is manufactured by someone else and is being marketed by the other party or both the manufacturer and marketer are the same concern. This condition can arise from two perspectives. The good researcher might be without financial resource to manufacture himself. And the marketer who wants to earn money selling fad products.

Knowledgeable Researcher Marketer With Limited Manufacturing Resources:

This is  the positive condition when the marketer has limited resources for manufacturing by himself. And it makes good business sense to hire someone else to manufacture the assigned nutritional and herbal supplements. This can arise with any new and learned person who wants to sell supplements after proper research and trials. Big Hands For Him!

The Money Chasing Marketer With Limited Manufacturing Resources:

This situation arises on the contrary to the above one. Here the basic purpose of marketing concern is just to cash the rising demand of herbal supplements. We are not against building herbal business, developing great ideas and products and marketing them. But many of the offline and online marketers are chasing money. They have great online herbal stores without giving even the sufficient herb information to properly use the herbal supplements.

An example of this is the massive “weight loss rush” when Garcinia Cambogia first hit the market. While Garcinia is definitely a good herbal supplement and has been shown to provide benefit to overweight people, many of the claims have been blown far out of proportion. What’s more poor manufacturing and a bias for marketing has put many users in possible danger.

Like any good business person, our motives should be to add value (by giving herb information) to the life of our potential customer cum present visitor.

Full Fledged Marketing & Manufacturing Companies:

Some reputed companies with a long track record of research based good herbal supplements are usually at the top of this war. They sometimes offer advanced arrays of facilities in manufacturing as safety and toxicity reports, HPCL standardization of products and other herb information. Many times these are costlier products. Better products from individuals and smaller companies should also be encouraged.

Herb Information From The Advertisement:

These kind of persons or companies seek the attractive products. Their inventory is filled with products for sexual health, pen** enlargement, breast size enhancers. Besides cosmetic and obesity centered products are also in line.

Buying these products from such marketers can be harmful as there is no solid background in such products and in these companies. It is no bad to use products enhancing sexual health. We have all the right and morality to use them and also the right to get adequate herb information.

Ayurveda endorses sexual health from the ancient times as there had been eight major branches of Ayurveda in ancient times. Out of these eight specialties, one was devoted to sexual health and having healthier and efficient children.

The biggest trouble is that such products are not valuable for the time and money that we offer them. Many of these contain crude herbal powders whereas there should be extracts for enhanced effects. Many are  overpriced. No reliable web or phone support is provided. Many times we use them following some hype and not really fulfilling what we actually need.

The language on the website and on the advertisement of products reveal a lot about the intention and motive of the company. So always look for products inventory of the company and you will be surprised many more times than you expect to see it filled with sexual and cosmetic products and without relevant herb information.

The sales pitch and tone of herb information is also creating an urgency to buy the product. Too many free gifts can be an indicator. I remember one instance when the website offer to join online survey company was charging an onetime 50 dollars fee and offering a free air trip to Mauritius. Nonsense and impractical business sense.

At least we, the searchers on the net, deemed to be considered intelligent enough by these raging marketers! On the opposite we can feel the warm and friendly advice on many good websites. This warmness is further enriched with great web or phone support for the product info and and open scientific mindset regarding the feedback of products.

Pointers Of Herb Information To Look For:

  • Always look whether the manufacturer and the marketer are same and both should be verifiable for contact information. Address, Phone or Fax no. and email support are better.
  • Seek those who have good respect on internet and offline as well.
  • Find the pitch and tone of language while describing products.
  • See the other products range in the inventory for their expertise or emphasis on a particular class of product.
  • GMP Certified products are the norm today. But small and good entrepreneurs should not be left for merely not having GMP certification.
  • Kosher certified products are definitely a great reliability criteria for herb information.

“The reliability, credibility and good customer support are essential to any manufacture and marketer and especially those who deal with human health and wellbeing.”

Herbal Label Information

Herb information on the label of herbal supplements tell about the ingredients used in particular herbal formulation. It guides us about the manufacturer, marketing company, the ingredients and the resources followed for preparing the herbal formulation.

Whenever we intend to purchase the herbal supplements, we should look at the label and the leaflet that give vital data about the supplement.

There are different regulations for labels in different countries. However all of them require the correct and appropriate information that should inform the user adequately.

Various Kinds Of Supplements:

All the supplements can be placed in of the following categories.

  1. Dietary Or Nutritional Supplements: Such food supplements contain the normal parts of food – carbohydrate, proteins, fat, vitamins, minerals. These are used as additives or to fortify our dietary intake of these basic elements of diet.
  2. Herbal Or Botanical Supplements: These contain chiefly herbs or botanicals but their clear intention is not to have some therapeutic effect. Or they are not marketed to affect us like therapeutic products are marketed. According to FDA they are also put under Dietary or Food Supplements.
  3. Herbal & Botanical Supplements For Therapeutic Effects: These herbal supplements are having therapeutic claims. They are used as adjuvants or supportive along with drugs. Some of them could be used as alternative to standard medical drugs. Ideally these products should be available after proper clinical research trials.

Regulations Are Different From Countries To Countries:

Regulatory Authorities are different in various countries. Like FDA in USA and Drug Inspector Of India in India are the controlling authorities for such products.

FDA is responsible for the safety of herbal supplements only after the product is marketed. It is the primary responsibility of Manufacturer to identify the clinical research resources for various claims or benefits of the supplements.

The herb information on the label should be according to NLEA that are part of final rules published in the Federal Register in 1992 and 1993. FDA’s rules implement the provisions of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 (NLEA), which, among other things, requires nutrition labeling for most foods (except meat and poultry) and authorizes the use of nutrient content claims and appropriate FDA-approved health claims.

Indian law and regulations are definitely better and more stringent in this regard. However the practical trouble is many times with their implementations as there are tremendously large number of companies in this field. The Indian Government is becoming more active for establishing the safety of the exported products as well as those used along the lines are Ayurveda and other traditional supplements.

However, most of Ayurvedic botanicals are treated as medicine or drug and not merely as dietary supplements in India. Modern Research is validating most of the Ayurveda based products the world over. More info in this regard will be given in another article.

The Form Of Medicinal Herbs In Preparation:

Choosing the right herbal supplement is primarily our responsibility as it might affect our health or disease favorably or not that much favorably as it should. For that we have to search and analyze some herb information that is presented by most manufacturers.

Mild Herbal Supplements With Crude Herbs:

Mild herbal supplements use primarily the crude form of botanicals like the powder of ashwagandha, arjuna or any other medicinal herb. These can aid to some extent but mostly they are not useful and don’t serve the purpose of their use. The effects are mostly equivalent to placebo or ‘test sugar pills’.

The manufacturer can list great herb information on the label. We can be easily drawn to the supplement. Many times we might even pay the similar price as with other stronger and better products. So always look the form of botanicals that are used in the preparation.

Herbal Supplements With Extracts Of Botanicals:

The same good looking label can have the extract form of botanicals. They are better choices in terms of money and it also serves the intended purpose in a better way.

The extract of Ashwagandha is sufficient in the dose of 300 mg (10:1) or in 500 mg (5:1). If you are going to use this botanical in crude form, choose at least 2-3 gm of powder or 5 gm of granules prepared by adding the same quantity of sugar. You will get the beneficial herb information.

Check For The Standardization:

The standardized products can have differing standardization of the various ingredients. Many times there can be some standard norm that is followed by most companies. Say 100 mg of 50% bacosides standardized Bacopa extract is equivalent to 200 mg of 25% bacosides standardized Bacopa product.

The alcoholic extracts are usually milder than the aqueous extracts. Always find out the absolute crude dose of the particular botanical and then calculate that how much of the botanical is offered in the product.

Classical References Or Pharmacopoeia Based Herbal Supplements:

This group of products derive their resource and reference from some standard Pharmacopoeia like British Pharmacopoeia. It is a prerequisite to prepare these botanical products strictly according to guidelines of these classical texts. These supplements usually has this information.

  • The original reference.
  • The indications.
  • The Use.
  • Dosage Or alternatively written ‘As suggested by Physician’.
  • It is not compulsory to write the list of constituents as they are available to all who can see the original reference.

Patent Or Proprietary Herbal Formulations:

This group of products have their clinical research resources in modern research. So these are usually research driven and clinical trial reports are available. These herbs should have the following information of label.

  • The list of ingredients either in percentage of weight or volume or in mg or ml.
  • The form of botanicals used should be written – crude powder, decoction, extracts etc.
  • The leaflet should give reports of references or studies. It should mention safety and side effects.
  • It should be mentioned that whether it has been tested for use in children, pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Other General Information On Label:

This second half of the label gives information regarding company, the package and the price. It usually has this information.

  • Manufacturing License Number and its renewal.
  • GMP certification if available.
  • Kosher certification if available.
  • Volume or weight or presentation as in capsules or tablets etc.
  • Maximum retail price.
  • Manufacturing Batch number.
  • Date of Manufacturing.
  • Best use or expiry date.
  • Place of Manufacturing.
  • Company Address, email, fax or website url.
  • ‘Marketed by’ in case the formulation is marketed by other company.
As a native Indian and an Ayurvedic holistic healer, Arjun writes in the lane of herbal healing and home remedies. Certification: BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery With Modern Medicine).

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