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Claims for Herbals

Consumer Conscious

Sadly, some herbal sites marketing on the Internet have misleading or unproved health claims that violate federal law, according to a study of 443 Web sites.

Herbal Supplements

The finding -- and an unrelated study suggesting that magnetic heel insoles are ineffective at relieving pain -- question the marketing practices of widely popular alternative medical products.

Editorials published with the studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association said improvements are needed in the regulation of alternative treatments.

In another study, researchers analyzed Internet marketing claims of eight popular items, including St. John's wort for depression, echinacea for infections and ginseng for stress. Such products are used by an estimated 14 percent of U.S. adults, according to data cited in the study.

Of the 443 Web sites examined, 292 made health claims for their products, such as claiming they could cure, prevent or treat a disease. More than half of those omitted a federally required disclaimer saying that the claims had not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that the products are not intended to treat or prevent disease.

On 39 percent of the sites for the herb kava kava, no information was listed about an FDA advisory linking the products with liver problems.

Unlike prescription drugs, herbal products manufacturers can make health claims in marketing that are not supported by science.

The findings show that the system is not effective and some feel this bolsters the argument for having one system for both herbs and drugs. Herbalists and nature supporters disagree, but that's another matter.

Supplements can be of great help to you, and herbs - well, they've been around forever and some are used in modern medicine - but it's important to buy supplements and herbs from a respected and endorsed company. Make sure they don't add "fillers" and check the ingredient listings carefully before purchasing.

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