Are You Consumer-Smart?
by Dave Foreman
When you purchase a drug, you generally know exactly what you are getting. Drugs are single chemicals that can be measured and
quantified according to their molecular
structure. Thus, a tablet of extra-strength Tylenol® contains 500 mg of acetaminophen, no matter where or when you buy it. Herbs, however, are living organisms
comprised of thousands of ingredients.
The differences between one plant and another with regards to the proportions
of all components may be dramatically
different. Numerous influences can affect
the nature of a given crop. Whether it was grown at the top or bottom of a hill, what the weather was like, what time of year it was picked, what other plants lived nearby, and what kind of soil predominated are only a few of the factors that can affect the chemical and nutritional make-up of an herb.
What’s In A Bottle?
This can present a real problem when using herbal therapies. Since so much variation is possible, it's difficult to know whether one brand of herb is equivalent in effectiveness to another. So how can you be sure of what brand to purchase? The media has scared people into thinking that there is really
nothing in the bottle but a label and filler. This is far from the truth. In every business, there are good guys and bad guys. The sad truth is that the bad guys don't always wear hats that distinguish who they are.
What do you do if a manufacturer doesn't pay to have third party certification? I suggest that you ask the following questions: Are the products easily found in high-quality full-service health food stores? National full-
service health food stores can not waste
space or take the chance of ruining their
reputation by selling you poor supplements. Does the company use proper labeling
(does not make outrageous claims like "cures cancer")? Companies making these types of claims are breaking the law - that
would certainly make me question their
manufacturing practices, too.
Knowledge is Power
These suggestions are simply guidelines
with which to work. It is always best to
ask as many questions as you can prior
to buying a nutritional supplement. I buy
my supplements from well-respected
supplement companies. I also don't change brands too often. Once I find something that works, I usually stick with it so that I
can ensure that I am receiving top quality.