How Do You Know Which Are Safe Herbal Supplements?

The Lesson of Ephedra

The lesson of Ephedra is an important one to learn when looking for safe herbal supplements. Not too terribly long ago, Ephedra was being hailed as a great herbal remedy for weight loss.  Companies all over were creating Ephedra supplements to help Americans lose weight.  Unfortunately too little research into the effects of Ephedra were done, and it turned out that Ephedra actually increased blood pressure, increasing chances of stroke or heart attack. 

At least two deaths have been linked directly to the use of Ephedra.  The health of many more people were adversely effected.  Because herbs are not classified as pharmaceuticals, they are not held to the strict rules and regulations which medications must adhere too under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Not all herbal supplements do what they promise, oftentimes they are not even safe herbal supplements to take.

Choosing Safe Herbal Supplements

One of the great lies of the herbal supplement industry is that because they are natural, they must be good for you.  Using a term like safe herbal supplements is redundant: if they are herbal they must be safe!

This is simply not the case.  While some herbal supplements have been proven to increase health and have beneficial results, oftentimes there is no conclusive scientific evidence showing that they have any positive health effects.  Sometimes it has even been shown, such as in the case of ephedra, that they have adverse health effects.

Before beginning any dietary supplementation program involving herbal supplements, it is best to consult your doctor or physician to discover whether or not they are safe herbal supplements to use.  Doing your research prior to taking any herbal supplement is very important.  You want to increase your health using herbal supplements, not put it at risk.

Known Non-Safe Herbal Supplements

Sometimes there has been no conclusive research on the safety of a specific herbal supplement, making it difficult to determine whether or not they are safe herbal supplements.  At the very least, there are many herbal supplements known not to be safe.  A list of some of these follows:Chaparrel (creosote bush) – Known to cause liver damage, 6 documented cases (1 requiring liver transplant)

  • Coltsfoot – Known to contain carcinogen
  • Damiana – Interferes with iron absorption, potential for liver damage
  • Ephedra (Ma Huang) – Increases blood pressure, could lead to stroke, heart attack, 2 documented deaths
  • Jimson Weed – Known to cause thirst, dilation of pupils, hallucinations
  • Lobelia (Indian or Wild Tobacco) – Breathing problems, sweating, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, at high doses possibly leads to coma or even death
  • Penny Royal – Causes liver damage in small doses
  • Wormwood (Madder, mug & ming wort) – Can lead to neurological problems including paralysis and loss of intellect.


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