Herbal & Dietary Supplements – Can You Trust Them?

Herbal and dietary supplements… I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had a plethora of questions regarding health and dietary supplements, most being as to whether we can trust them? Herbal and supplement companies market supplements as the “must have” supplements to add to your daily routine; When you really listen, they seem to have amazing benefits and cure just about everything. So, just as you would research buying a car you should also research what you are putting into your body.

How do we know which supplements we need?

There are so many different paths to take, whether it be improving your skin, hair, nails, digestive tract, energy level, or weight loss! And what happens if we try to take a little of everything? Do the different ingredients interact well with one another? And the price… supplements can be expensive when you think about taking them daily. Most importantly, how do we even know if the supplements are working, or are doing what they are intended to do if we don’t feel any different? Do we just trust the process and keep taking them? Well, this recent study is mind blowing with the less than desirable facts that were uncovered.

Recently, four major dietary supplement retailers were accused by the New York State attorney general’s office of making fraudulent claims of their supplements, some of which even contained contaminated ingredients. This leads you to wonder, how trustworthy are the ads and claims made for dietary and herbal supplements?

At major retailers such as GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, studies have shown that 80% of the products tested do not actually have the herbal ingredients that are listed on their labels. Furthermore, the authorities stated that instead of having the herbal ingredients as advertised, these products have inexpensive fillers such as rice and houseplants. Some of these fillers and substances may even be hazardous to people’s health, especially if they have food allergies.

A study performed at GNC, on the “Herbal Plus” brand, supplements with the labeled ingredient “ginkgo biloba” in reality, only contained rice, asparagus, and spruce. Spruce being a plant often associated with Christmas decorations!

Another study performed on a brand found at Target called “Up and Up,” was discovered to have supplements labeled with valerian root, St. John’s Wort, and ginkgo biloba did not contain any of these ingredients, but instead, contained fillers including peas, beans, carrots and powdered rice. This same evidence held true for a brand found at Walgreens. The products St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, and Echinacea found under the “Finest Nutrition” label did not contain any of the ingredients that they claimed to have.

Unfortunately, this information has brought shame to the whole supplement market, when not all supplement brands are to blame. For example, manufacturers of “pharmaceutical” grade supplements put their products through rigorous standards and third party testing to ensure the best quality and accuracy of ingredients.

A pharmaceutical grade supplement has fewer binders, fillers, excipients, dyes, and other unknown substances. These supplements cannot have more than 1% of these impure ingredients in order to be labeled as pharmaceutical grade. As long as the FDA does not require these mainstream manufacturers of supplements to list these “other” substances on their labels, the average person will have no idea what they may be consuming on a daily basis.

How do we know that we are buying a pharmaceutical grade supplement?

It is important to work with a physician who is properly trained and knowledgeable about supplements. It also helps if they have direct access to pharmaceutical grade supplements. This is the best way to make sure you are taking the correct type and dose of the supplement, as well as having a pharmaceutical grade product. Buyers have a right to trust that they are getting the product (and ingredients) that they are paying for. So, keep an eye out and stay informed on product lines that have a stellar reputation and can guarantee their ingredients to you.

Dr. Susan K. Linder a Diplomat of the American Board of Anti-Aging, Functional & Regenerative Medicine. She is also board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, with a subspecialty board certification in Pain Management. Dr. Linder is the Medical Director of HealthSpringMD conveniently located in Fort Worth, TX. For more information on nutritional health, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy and getting back to feeling great visit her website: www.healthspringmd.com or call today to schedule a time to meet with Dr. Linder 817-926-7671.