The problem for consumers buying supplements is how to choose the highest quality product. Quality of the supplement is one of the most important factors that determine the end result, better health. That factor is the most difficult because often labels don’t tell you enough. Laws prevent supplement manufacturers form letting you know how the herb might help you or how many to take depending on the health problem. It is up to you to research the herb and your health problem to evaluate that issue. The other problem is standard medicine websites either condemn supplements or downplay their benefits. So then, how do you know which supplements to buy.
Private Brands: They are privately labeled with the store brand such as Sprouts or CVC. Some of these store brands are really good products and some are junk. Store brands often don’t’ tell you much about the origin of the product, the testing done on it, or if it was packaged in the US. It is hard to call and find out that information.
Name Brands: Brands such as Natural Factors give you an address or a toll free number to call for questions. That is why I prefer to order from those companies. You can look up product reviews for those brands on several sites including Amazon. Often it takes trying the product for a given amount of time, to see if it is beneficial.
Formulations differ in each product. How your body and health condition reacts to that formulation is very individual. Allergies and sensitivities all come into play on taking supplements. No one can tell you ahead of time how your body will react to a given formula. The ingredients are listed with the main ingredient being first, then with the others being listed next and so on. So look at the ingredient list and how it is ordered. Look for fillers, additives, and other ingredients that may make your supplement less effective or could cause an allergic reaction.
Statements on Supplement Labels that are important:
Is the product manufactured under GMP procedures as required by law here in the US.
‘Products are manufactured in accordance with GMP or Good Manufacturing Practices. ‘ This is the law for companies and is a structure of rules and regulations to guarantee safety and standards for supplements. All companies are required to adhere to this law but many do not. There are not enough agents to enforce this law. This means that some companies are operating below the law but just have not gotten caught.
Origin or Product:
Example: Fish oil Country of Origin is Peru. If it does not state where the product is from, you have no clue unless you call the company directly. We don’t buy fish much any more because most of it comes from China. The way their raise and feed their fish is disgusting so we don’t buy it. Most of your fish comes from China now. Spices are another one that are imported from countries with inferior standards of quality control. You may be eating heavy metals, E-coli, bacteria, dried insects along with your spices.
Where was it tested and packaged: Was it tested at all?
Example: Encapsulated and quality tested in the U.S.A.
Example: USP has tested and verified ingredients, potency, and manufacturing process. USP sets official standards for dietary supplements. www.uspverified.org
This means that the herb or herbs were tested by a lab to determine that the main parts of the herb that contain the medicinal properties are present in the product. Many herbal products tested prove insufficient in the medicinal properties they are supposed to contain. Without those medicinal properties, they are useless to improve health. The herb needs to grown properly, picked at the proper time, washed properly, dried properly and stored properly. The manufacturing process can destroy the medicinal properties of that product. You cannot tell any of that without lab tests. That is the problem.
What part of the herb was used in the product:
Herbs contain medicinal properties which may be present only in the leaves, the root, or the flowers. If the proper part of the plant is not processed, it is useless. Example: ginseng root, chamomile flowers, goldenseal root. In some cases the whole plant contains medicinal properties.
There are many species of plants in the same family but not all contain medicinal properties. Some plants are just pretty. It is important that the company who bottled your product conducted tests to determine that the product contains goldenseal root not another herb that is the same color. Adulteration of herbs with weeds, incorrect species of the plant is common. You cannot tell by looking at the powder. Only a microscope and testing can determine this. Tasting the herb can tell you much about the supplement, but does not tell you if it contains bacteria, mold, mildew, and other contamination.
The only way you can tell this is by calling the company and asking them questions or looking up their company profile. If they test, they are proud of their standards, and will tell you on the information contained in their FAQ page or company profile.
Do the research folks? This is the main problem on why people say herbs don’t work. It is either the quality of the product, the amount of product (too much or not enough), the length of time using it (it can take weeks or months to see results), or they may be taking the wrong herb for the problem. Many herbs have medicinal properties that pertain to stabilizing blood sugar, or balancing blood pressure, or raising overall health of organs and tissues.
Consumer labs: https://www.consumerlab.com/
This company tests brands, lists the results of this testing, publishes research, gives reviews, and publishes FDA recalls like this one:
"On April 18, 2014, the FDA issued a warning letter to Iowa Select Herbs, LLC, following a facility inspection which found the company's products, including Flax Seed, Holy Basil, Papaya Leaf Extract, and Ginkgo Leaf Extract products, to be adulterated because they were prepared, packed, or held under conditions that violate Current Good Manufacturing Practices for dietary supplements.
These violations include failure to conduct at least one appropriate test or examination to verify the identity of a component that is a dietary ingredient, prior to its use, failure to quarantine components prior to their use in the manufacture of dietary supplements, and failure to have quality control operations for components, packaging, and labels before use in the manufacture of dietary supplements. In addition, statements made on the company's website about Flax Seed, Holy Basil, Papaya Leaf Extract, and Ginkgo Leaf Extract products were found to be drug claims. "
This is a paid membership site but very inexpensive if you consider the amount of money you may be spending on inferior products that do nothing for your health and may be harmful.
I hope this article helps you to make a more informed decision when buying herbs and supplements. In the end it is up to you to research these companies to know for sure. Supplements and herbs should not be purchased on price only, it is not a pair of shoes. You bought that herb or supplement for a specific reason in your path to better health. If the supplement is junk quality you are throwing your money and your health down the toilet. Think about it the next time to visit a health store. The employees are not allowed to suggest one brand over the next. You can understand why. They are not allowed to give you medical advice. They are bound by laws that keep consumers from getting proper information about the supplements and herbs they are buying. Thank the FDA and the AMA for keeping you in the dark on alternative herbs and therapies.
Statements on this website have not been approved by the AMA or FDA. This information is for your education and you are advised to always seek a medical doctor for problems. You are advised to get permission from your doctor before you add any dietary food supplement to your regimen.
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