Consumer Reports realizes that many people are turning to herbal remedies, as well as to
nutritional supplements; a strong point Consumer Reports makes is the FDA needs
additional authority and funding to establish safer foods and drugs (“Alternative
The FDA and Consumer Reports are concerned that many people who are
experimenting with herbal remedies have the impression that if it is over-the-counter and
on the shelf, it is safe (Marsa). Herbs are being added to many products for example:
Halls Lozenges are fortified with zinc; Ex-Lax contains senna leaf; some multivitamins
are laced with ginseng and gingko biloba; and even some snack food companies are
adding herbs to their snacks. According to the 1997 poll, consumers are convinced that
natural remedies are just as safe as traditional medicines, like aspirin (Marsa).
Just as important as the need for the consumer to know that the remedy he/she is
taking is safe and effective, is the need for regulating information on herbal labels.
Manufacturers often leave out very important information on their labels, like the amount
of the herb and, in some cases, even which herb is in the product. The FDA does not
have any inspection authority to make sure that what is on the label is what is actually in
the product. One product actually caused a heart attack in a woman who used a product
claiming to contain plantain, an herbal laxative. After the FDA conducted lab tests on the
product, they found out the supplement did not contain plantain; instead it had digitalis,
“a powerful herb used in prescription heart drugs that can trigger vomiting, dizziness,
headaches, and heart attack” (Marsa). The mislabeling of products is a very serious
occurrence in herbal remedies and nutritional supplements, which must be controlled.