Category: Nutrition and Fitness

The Dark Side of Herbal Medicine and Supplements

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It’s easy to believe testimonials from those who have been “cured” from their illnesses with herbal medicine. Lack of understanding of the disease, desperation to find a cure, the strong desire to become healthy and the failure to accept one’s condition all contribute to that belief.

While most of commercial medicine trace their roots to herbal remedies and homemade cures, lack of information about herbal supplements pose a greater risk than the maligned synthetic pills and tablets.

There are no long-term proven studies of its benefits.
Testimonies that the herbal medicine have worked have been proven in some studies as nothing more than placebo effect. The lack of studies may have arisen from the hostility towards anything that is called scientific. Medicines in general seemed to have gained a reputation of having more bad side effects than benefits.

They do not undergo trials and studies.
The biggest problem with herbal medicine is that they do not undergo rigorous and extensive studies and trials. There are reported cases of fatal interactions between doctor-prescribed medicine and herbals that the person took without the proper information. Drugs however have been carefully studied, tested, and measured. The lack as well of proper labeling and regulation of herbal medicine only raises the risks. Most health supplements imported and sold in Singapore do not need license from HSA.

There is a lack of understanding about medicine in general.
Just stamp the words “herbal,” “natural,” and “organic” and people will be more amenable to take herbal supplements than vitamins sold at reputable pharmacies. The fad of going natural seems to have had negative effects on the views of people who do not understand how chemicals work and function in their body. Self-diagnosis, misinformation and the desire to ride the “go natural” bandwagon have resulted to fatal overdoses and drug interactions.

Some people don’t understand homeopathy.
Homeopathy originally meant that a cure should be able to mimic the symptoms of a disease so that they patient’s body will fight those same symptoms. There is no proof that this works. This stems from a lack of understanding of the illness that needs to be cured. There is no way to measure the correct amount of the ingredients used in the medicine to create the same symptoms, so the person ends up consuming toxic or poisonous amounts or the medicine has no effect at all.

They also cause side effects.
Although there are herbal remedies that work, especially those that contain “superfood,” you should make an informed choice when purchasing herbal products. Several herbs cause side effects you’re not aware of. They could also interact negatively with some of the medicine you’re taking. Doctors will generally shun the idea of prescribing herbal remedies.

They’re after your money too.
There is an argument that pharmaceutical companies are only after your money and they conspiring with the doctors. The popularity of alternative medicine however gave rise to questionable companies that sell herbal products. They sometimes claim that the source of the ingredients are organic, so they charge more than prescription drugs. Unfortunately, these companies are not monitored.