Herbal Health Products
What are herbal health products/herbal
Herbal products are a form of dietary
supplements. They can come in the form of
pills, capsules, powders, gel tabs, creams, or
liquids. Most often you do not need a
prescription from your doctor to buy them.
Why do people use herbal products?
▪ A belief that the product will help
▪ The desire for a “natural” treatment
▪ Wanting to feel as though they are in
control of their illness
▪ Ease of purchase without a doctor’s
Are they right for me?
There are many factors that you will want to
think about before you buy and begin taking
an herbal product.
▪ What is the benefit that you hope to
▪ It is not wise to self-diagnose or
treat any health problem. Talk to
your health care team before treating
▪ Keep in mind that these products are
not meant to treat, diagnose, prevent
or cure disease.
▪ Always check with your health care
team before taking the herbal
product. You will want to make
sure that it will not cause problems
with any of your medicines or with
any health problems that you might
have. Some herbal products can be
unsafe when they are combined with
▪ They should not replace prescribed
medication without first talking with
▪ Do not delay seeing your doctor just
because you are taking an herbal
▪ It is important to discuss the herbal
products you are using with your
doctor if you are going to be having
Are all herbal products the same?
Herbal products are not controlled the same
way that medications are. Testing to be sure
that the product is safe and does what it
claims is not required.
Does is matter what brand I buy?
Factors like price, quality, and availability
will help you decide on a product. You will
want to keep in mind that the FDA does not
control how these products are made.
Under current law, it is up to the
manufacturer to make sure that the product
contains the ingredients on the label. One
study showed that less than half of the
products sampled were correctly labeled for
strength and content. You will want to be
sure that you choose a product made by a
company that is known to make products
that are free of contaminants and contain
what the label states it does. If you have
questions, please ask your pharmacist. He
or she would be happy to help you select a
In an effort to address the current lack of
standards, many groups have begun to test
products for quality and consistency. They
have designed programs that certify that the
ingredients are as the label states. When a
product passes the tests the company is
allowed to label the product with a seal of
approval. This process only confirms that
the product does contain what the label
states. The safety of the product or how
well the product works is not tested. Some
of the seals that you can look for are shown
Important Points to Think About
▪ Natural products may have side effects. Just because it is “all natural” does not mean it
can not hurt you.
▪ Let your doctor, pharmacist, nurse, and dentist know about all the herbal products that
you are using. This will help you avoid unsafe combinations of medications and herbal
▪ Herbal products have drug-like effects and should be thought of as drugs.
▪ Seek advice and information from healthcare professionals who have knowledge about
herbal products and avoid taking advice from people who lack training.
▪ If there is a change in the state of your health, see your doctor right away.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©2/2017. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5720.