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Supplement safety: Why you should look beyond the labels

St. John's WortBy Elizabeth Nolan Brown for

People tend to think that because vitamins and supplements are ‘natural,’ that means they’re always safe.

But while it may be true that the majority of vitamins and supplements carry less side effects and risks than the majority of pharmaceutical drugs, herbal products are far from harmless.

Like ‘normal’ drugs, herbal medicines alter your body’s physiology, and anything that alters your physiology can lead to adverse effects, or be dangerous when combined with other substances. And yet the majority tend to omit crucial safety information from their labels or packaging.

According to new research published in the journal BMC Medicine, most over-the-counter herbal products don’t contain the minimum info required for safe use. Researchers looked at five commonly-used supplements sold: St. John’s wort, Asian ginseng, echinacea, garlic and ginko.

Find out what the labels were missing…

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