The hidden hazards in herbal supplements

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: May 5th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Ever seen those “herbal male enhancement” supplements and wondered “I wonder if that really works?”

Well, some of them do. Just not in the way buyers might think.

Customers trying to bypass prescription drugs for a “natural” solution to erectile dysfunction or lack of libido could be getting more than they bargained for.

One study found compounds that resemble those in Viagra and Levitra in three supplements marketed as herbal aphrodisiacs. The study said these enhancers could be potentially lethal because nothing is known about their effects.

This study and a few others recommend that the supplements be taken off the market until further proof can be found of their safety.

The herbal supplements in question don’t include prescription drugs in their list of ingredients.

The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate dietary supplements as stringently as “conventional” food and drugs.

Manufacturers are responsible for the products before they get on the shelf. That means companies do not have to provide the F-D-A with evidence of the safety or effectiveness of the product. The exception is when a manufacturer is using a new dietary ingredient.

These products don’t have to be registered, either. Trust is put in the manufacturer for not creating a misleading product.

The F-D-A can only take action against the drugs after they reach the market.

So the next time you’re wondering what’s in that great herbal remedy you see on T-V, you might want to call the manufacturer first to see what’s really inside.