If you’re shopping around for herbal products you need to be extra careful! A recent study conducted by the University of Guelph (UoG) reveals that the vast majority of herbal products contain ingredients that are not listed on the label.

Do you know what that means?

That means that most of the manufacturers are actually substituting required ingredients with cheaper alternatives often known as “fillers” and these fillers can have potentially hazardous effects on your health!

Getting More than What You Paid For

Consumers generally trust product labels and naturally believe that the supplements they are buying contain only the ingredients listed on the labels. In reality however, customers are getting more than they paid for as the study reveals that nearly 60% of herbal products contained plant species not listed on the label.

Product substitution is also a common practice amongst herbal supplement manufacturers along with which fillers such as rice, soybeans and wheat are used in a variety of herbal products.

Botanical Director of the Guelph-based Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO), Steven Newmaster says: “Contamination and substitution in herbal products present considerable health risks for consumers.“ Regarding the latest study he exclaimed “We found contamination in several products with plants that have known toxicity, side effects and/or negatively interact with other herbs, supplements and medications.”

Not All Manufacturers are Cheating

The herbal supplements sector is one of the fastest growing segments of the alternative medicine market in the US. There are over 1000 companies around the world that make herbal products out of medicinal plants and makes sales of over $60 billion a year. Not all of them cheat consumers.

While regulatory problems do persist Newmaster notes that “The industry suffers from unethical activities by some of the manufacturers.” So, the question is how can you make sure you are selecting the right herbal products off the shelf?

How to Make Sure Your Herbal Supplements are Safe

There’s no denying the benefits of herbal supplements but as a consumer you need to make a well informed decision to ensure you’re not falling prey to unethical processes being practiced by some manufacturers. There are a number of things you can look at to make sure you are purchasing the right herbal products for your health needs.

  • Detailed Product Specifications

The first thing you need to take a look at is a full and detailed disclosure of product specifications. Make sure that the product contains any and all ingredients in potencies that have been proved effective and safe in clinical tests. Along with which detailed specifications of raw materials, including purity and disintegration requirements are outlined appropriately.

  • Raw Material Procurement

You need to make sure that the herbal product you are purchasing follows best practices when it comes to raw material procurement. This includes purchasing from well reputed suppliers as well as obtaining a Raw Material Certificate of Analysis (COA) for 100% authenticity.

  • Good Manufacturing Practices

Also extremely important is the fact that you only opt for products that have been manufactured at GMP Compliant facilities. In addition, the best of companies maintain a complete production record including Master Manufacturing Record and Batch Production Records to ensure compliance to GMP specifications.

  • Independent Lab Testing

While detailed product specifications, good raw material procurement and manufacturing processes are important, if you really want to make sure you’re getting the “right” kind of herbal supplement then only opt for products that have been independently lab tested to verify the COA. This is the best way to gauge the compliance of the particular herbal product you are interested in purchasing with all limits for microbes, heavy metals and unlisted ingredients that may have contaminants.

  • Safe and Detailed Packaging

Authentic brands conduct packaging at GMP certified facilities and work under the guidelines set forth by the FDA GMP regulations for accurate packaging. Look for clear mention of lot numbers and experimentation dates and verify these with corresponding Lot numbers on COA and independent lab testing reports.

  • Request for More Details and See if they Comply!

Its easy for manufacturers to blow their own trumpets when it comes to up selling their products but did you know that as a customer you have the right to request for more information and manufacturers are obliged to comply? That’s right! If you really want to make sure that you are not taking any unnecessary risks by purchasing herbal products with unlisted ingredients then get in touch with the company to request for details on lab testing reports, certificates of analysis and other such documentation that you can take a look at to ensure that the company is right on the money. Companies that follow ethical practices and are sure of their products will always comply with your request. Those who don’t are the brands you need to stay away from!

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