Between 1996 and 2007, use of herbal supplements in the U.S. rose by a staggering 83% . Many people use herbal medicines mistakenly believing them to be safe simply because they are ‘natural’. However, just like conventional drugs, herbal medicines alter normal body physiology. And despite their wholesome image, many herbal products have adverse effects and may have dangerous interactions with other drugs and dietary supplements. New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Medicine reveals that most over-the-counter herbal products do not contain any of the key information required for safe use .
A new online resource, designed to give health care providers easy access to evidence-based information on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), was unveiled recently by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health. With this new resource, providers will have the tools necessary to learn about the various CAM practices and products and be better able to discuss the safety and effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine with their patients.