Local News
Eyewitness Sports
Medical Coverage
Call 12 For Action
Target 12 Investigators
More Details
What's On WPRI
What's On Fox
This Morning Weekend
Experts Online
Online Store
Chopper 12
Station Info

 May 11, 2005
Herbal Supplements
Email to a Friend Printer Friendly Version  


These supplements are made from natural plants and are used by some individuals to supplement traditional medical treatments.


Herbal supplements are available in capsules, liquids, and powders. Americans spend over three quarters of a billion dollars a year on herbal remedies. Manufacturers of these supplements are making millions of dollars from consumers. Yet the proof of efficacy is often scant. The popularity of herbs often stems from testimonials or exaggerated bits of scientific evidence. There have been few rigorous clinical trials testing these compounds for effectiveness and safety. Results of some studies show that it is critical that you discuss which herbal supplements you are taking with your physician in order to prevent interactions and side-effects from other treatments you may be receiving. Herbs and spices, of course, can make bland foods more appealing. Eastern countries such as China and India have appreciated this dual function of herbs and spices for thousands of years. Now, Western medicine is attempting to identify and isolate the beneficial compounds in these familiar substances. Basil, cumin and turmeric are spicing up American tables. Some studies from researchers in India hint that these strongly flavored spices possess cancer prevention properties. Some examples of herbs and spices being researched include: Capsaicin, the chemical that gives red pepper its fire, has been found to be helpful in treating joint pain in some patients, and may be beneficial for gastrointestinal problems. Echinacea, a member of the daisy family, is touted as a remedy for colds or flu. Studies show that Echinacea does contain substances capable of strengthening the immune system to fight infection, and it can, in some cases, shorten the duration of colds and flu (although not prevent them). It may also be helpful in the treatment of urinary tract infections. Garlic is fast becoming a favorite of health advocates. Research suggests that it may help in the prevention of heart disease and cancer by stimulating the immune system and interfering with growth of malignant cells. Some studies indicate that garlic may reduce blood clotting and lower cholesterol. Substances found in garlic have also been found to have antibiotic properties. (However, garlic has been found to be most effective raw and in large amounts.) Some studies show that Ginkgo biloba extract can stimulate blood flow in the brains, arms and legs of older adults. Turmeric has a mild, slightly bitter, peppery flavor and adds a rich golden color to dishes. It may also boost the immune system. St. John’s wort has been proven to be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. However, in 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that it can interfere with protease inhibitors, drugs that are widely used to treat AIDS. Studies since then show that St. John's wort interferes with an enzyme called P450 that the body uses to break down about half of all drugs. Because of this, St. John's wort is believed to inhibit many of the most widely prescribed medicines, as well as digoxin and beta-blockers used for heart disease, seizure medicines and drugs used to prevent organ rejection after transplants. It is likely that some herbs improve certain conditions. Many of today's pharmaceuticals originated from plants. Digitalis, used to treat congestive heart failure, initially came from the leaves of the foxglove plant. Taxol, a drug originally from the yew tree, is a promising medication for certain types of cancer.


Is there scientific evidence that this herb is safe? Is their any proof of effectiveness? Is it approved by the FDA for treating my medical problem or condition? Will it interact with any other drugs that I'm currently taking or might take in over-the-counter medication? Will there be side effects? Can it aggravate an existing condition such as diabetes or arthritis?

Dieting And Your Health News  more» 
More Than Half of Americans Have Frequent Pain: Poll
Knee Problems Linked to Obesity
Exercise, Diet Aid Youthful Obesity
U.S. Unveils New Food Pyramid
Obesity: Bad For Men, Women and Kids
U.S. Cites Decline in Foodborne Illness Rates
Judge Strikes Down FDA Ban on Ephedra
Positive Trial Results Reported for Withdrawn MS Drug
Leaner Teens Tend to Exercise More Vigorously: Study
Low-Fat Diets May Lack Vitamins for Children
Health Encyclopedia: Dieting
Caffeine (and its effects)
Gaining Weight
Shoulder Separation
Gastric Surgery for Severe Obesity
Herbal Supplements
Ankle Sprains
Sprains and Strains
Kava Kava
Shin Splints
Send questions and comments about this website to the .
All content © Copyright 2003-2005 WorldNow, WPRI, WNAC and Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.