|"NATURAL" DOESN'T MEAN "SAFE"
WHEN IT COMES TO HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS, DOCTOR SAYS
Andrew A. Skolnick
Special To The Post-Dispatch
PUBLICATION: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 30, 2000
EDITION: FIVE STAR LIFT
As many hikers and campers painfully discover, poison ivy is 100
percent natural yet is anything but safe. Every plant produces a number
of substances - some of which are good for us and others that are
The notion that "natural" means "safe" is
a myth, says Dr. Stephen R. Braddock, assistant professor of clinical
child health at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
Braddock directs the Missouri Teratogen Information Service, a free
statewide service available to pregnant women, parents, obstetricians,
family practitioners and other health care providers of women and
children in Missouri and surrounding states.
The service, which
operates through the Children's Hospital at the university, provides
information about possible adverse effects of drugs, chemicals or
infections on pregnant women and their fetuses.
don't realize that herbal supplements are not regulated by the (Food and
Drug Administration), nor are the manufacturers required to perform
clinical studies before releasing their product to the general public,"
he says. "Because there is no regulation of these products, the consumer
is in no way assured of getting the same dose in every pill or tablet."
One dose may in fact be twice as strong as another, he said, and some
products may not contain much of the labeled ingredient at all. In
addition, because many of these "natural" supplements contain not just
one ingredient, but a multitude, there is no way to predict the combined
effects of these substances without proper clinical studies, Braddock
"Women should be aware of what they're taking and why,"
he adds. If a person needs medical therapy, the therapy should be based
on scientific evidence that shows its benefits outweigh its risks, he
says. This is especially important for pregnant women because so little
is known about the causes of most birth defects, he said.
herbs contain substances that are known or suspected of inducing
miscarriages, Braddock says, and should not be taken by pregnant women
or women who are trying to become pregnant.
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