The answer to this question seems to be a no: the majority (93 percent) of the products made with medicinal herbs that are marketed do not provide the precise information so that consuming them is safe. These products offer the image of 'natural', but the truth is that many of them cause adverse side effects, which is unknown to a third of consumers, since the packaging does not offer complete information to ensure the safety of their products. taking. At least that's what a study by the University of Leeds (United Kingdom), published in the magazine, shows. BMC Medicine.

The authors of the study went to health food stores, supermarkets and various pharmacies, where they purchased 68 different products of Asian ginseng, St. John's wort, garlic, echinacea and ginkgo, which are used relatively frequently, and compared the information that appeared in the containers offered by the National Center of the United States on Alternative and Complementary Medicine. They then evaluated whether they provided sufficient data about possible interactions with other medications, precautions to take, and their potential adverse effects.

Most products made with medicinal herbs do not offer the necessary information so that their consumption is safe

The products analyzed, despite being known for their benefits, can also harm the health of certain people, so they should be well identified on their label. So, the Grass of San Juan, for example, it may decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills, and even modify the effect of warfarin, a medication indicated to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Others, like the asian ginseng is not appropriate for people with diabetes, and the echinacea and the ginkgo they can cause an allergic reaction. Until the Garlic, seemingly harmless, It can interact with some drugs used in antiretroviral treatments.

'THR' must appear on the label

The investigation showed that 93% of the products examined were not licensed and, as a consequence, they did not comply with safety or quality standards, although around 50% were marketed as food supplements. In fact, only three products adequately reported on their safety.

All this despite the fact that in April a directive of the European Union was established that requires that products made with medicinal herbs must obtain a permit to be commercialized, or the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR), which guarantees that the information offered by the product has been approved.

The regulations are being applied to some products, such as Echinacea or St. John's Wort, but not always to others, such as Asian ginseng. In addition, there are a lot of products in stock that do not meet the norm either. Therefore, experts warn consumers to look for the logo 'THR' on the label of these types of products, and always inform your doctor or pharmacist of any herbal remedy they are taking.

Source: EUROPA PRESS / 'BMC Medicine'

5 Common Myths Of Herbal Medicine & Medicinal Plants (November 2019).