Herbal dietary supplements also known as ‘organics' and ‘naturals', are enjoying a rise in use in recent times. More and more people are realising the benefits of such supplements , creating a new craze for this element of the healthy lifestyle. Interested? Read on to find out more.

Drugs and Supplements, Pros, Cons, and differences

The definition of a drug is more or less the same in every country. The FDAs (Food and Drug Administrations), have categorized drugs as being ‘chemical substances that can prolong life through treating and prevention of health conditions. Drugs can also be used to alleviate symptoms and quality of life of a sufferer of disease or injury by altering the way that body parts and organs function within an organism, and also reacting with chemicals already present in the body. Drugs have undergone many tests and research and so are said to have tangible and approved positive effects. Well known drugs include aspirin, a painkiller and useful for preventing blood clots by its blood thinning action, iron tablets to raise levels of iron in the blood in sufferers of anaemia, and paracetamol, known to relieve symptoms of fever by helping the body's own inbuilt thermostat to lower temperature.

Is it risky to take herbal supplements and if so, is it worth it?

There's no doubt that herbal supplements have in many cases whether due to a placebo effect or the properties of the herbs themselves, improved health in individuals who have taken them. Although generally deemed as safe and as long as they're not going to worsen health, of course there are factors that should be taken into consideration before use.

Consult your doctor – he's the expert

Talk to your doctor and ensure that the herbal supplement you are thinking of taking will not interfere with any existing medical condition or medicines that you are taking. Generally speaking, those with kidney disease or malfunction, and people with heart and liver trouble are advised to steer clear of herbal supplements. The Canadian, Singaporean and German governments have banned the use of a certain herbal supplements, called ‘Kava', a supplement thought to relieve stress. This is because it was found to contain substances known to cause damage to the liver. The liver and kidneys are responsible for filtering and cleaning bodily fluids of proteins and other substances and damage to these can be a serious health problem. The American Medical Association have conducted studies into a herbal name ‘Ephedra' which has been used for weight loss. It was found to contain chemicals that increased the heart rate, thus bringing with it a real possibility of heart exhaustion and heart attacks which were also documented and verified.

Read the dosage and stick to it

Never ever exceed the dosage whether set by the instructions or by your doctor and bear in mind that the different ingredients of herbal supplements will have varying effects on different people. One person may take a supplement and suffer no ill effects, such as primrose oil for example, whilst another may find that they are allergic to it. With this is mind, proceed with caution and stick to the recommended dosage.

Never take more herbal supplements than what is directed by the doctor or as instructed on the bottle. Each individual reacts differently to the components of herbal supplements. While it is perfectly safe for one individual to take in a supplement of primrose oil capsules, another person may be allergic to it. So, do not even think about downing one bottle of

They are not licensed medicines

It doesn't matter what the health claims and benefits are said to be on the packaging or leaflet, these are not medicines nor have they been studied in enough depth to confirm that they actually work as a treatment for illnesses or ailments. Never ever stop taking any medication you are already on, nor should you take these instead of going to your doctor in the case of infections, high blood pressure or infections of any sort.

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