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The Importance of FDA Regulation on Herbal Medicine - page 5 / 10





5 / 10


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.

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