MURALI DORAISWAMY: The biggest misconception is that natural-herbal supplements have been vetted for purity and safety by some governmental agency prior to marketing. In reality, the vast majority of herbal-product ingredients are imported and the FDA barely ever inspects these source factories. Once in the U.S., these products can be repackaged and marketed without any FDA inspection until serious injury occurs.
A recent purity testing study of 44 herbal products, using a state-of-the-art technology called DNA bar coding, found that one-third of herbal products had substitution with fillers. Prior studies have also found adulteration of some herbal products with traces of metals or prescription drugs (e.g. steroids). Readers can turn to ConsumerLab.com to see purity results for specific herbal brands. Other safety issues, such as human toxicity, drug interactions, and optimal dose have yet to be determined for many of 29,000 herbal products on the market today.
These studies bear truth to the adage that “capsules don’t grow on trees”–we have to ask ourselves if the real contamination comes from nature or from the nature of man.