July is Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month. A common misconception with herbal supplements is that because its “all-natural” it is safe to take. This is especially true for people who may be taking prescription medications. The main purpose of the public health and awareness campaign is to inform the public that herbal supplements can cause potentially dangerous interactions when taken with certain medications. It is also for informing the public that herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA and consistency/quality may differ from one brand to another.
Are Herbal Supplements Safe?1
While herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA as drugs or as foods, they do fall under a category called dietary supplements. It is important to note that the level of regulation and criteria for dietary supplements is not as stringent as it is for food and drug products. The dietary supplement regulations ensure that herbal supplements meet certain quality standards and that the FDA can intervene to remove dangerous products from the market. However, these products can pose unexpected risks because many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong effects in the body. For example, taking a combination of herbal supplements or using supplements together with prescribed medications could lead to harmful, even life-threatening results.
Herbal Supplement Safety Tips
- If you’re currently taking prescription medications and thinking about starting an herbal supplement, always talk to your doctor or pharmacist first about possible drug interactions.
- Follow supplement instructions
- Stick to brands that have been tested by independent sources
- Check ConsumerLab.com or U.S. Pharmacopeia Convention (USP)
- Keep track of any alerts or advisories. The FDA will notify the public of any supplements that have been reported to cause adverse effects or contain undeclared ingredients.
If you have any additional questions regarding your medications,
reach out to the Tria Health Help Desk: 1.888.799.8742