December 13, 2013

Herbal Supplements

Herbal Supplements and Fertility

Over $5 billion is spent annually on herbal supplements in America that promise everything from curing colds, fighting hot flashes to enhancing fertility. Claims made for supplements not just for fertility but nutritional supplements in general are often questionable without sufficient scientific proof that they work. Quality controls are generally lacking in production and manufacturing resulting in inconsistent quantity and quality and sometimes non-existent ingredients erroneously listed on the label. Very few are even approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) leading to a scenario of ‘Buyer Beware”. Now there is even more reason for supplement buyers to beware: DNA tests show that many pills labeled as healing herbs are little more than powdered rice and weeds of no medicinal benefit. Using a test called DNA barcoding, a kind of genetic fingerprinting; Canadian researchers found that many supplements were not what they claimed to be. They found that many pills labeled as popular herbs were often diluted or replaced entirely with cheap fillers like soybean, wheat and rice. This sensitive DNA technique has also been used in studies of herbal teas, which showed that a significant percentage contain herbs and ingredients that are not listed on their labels. So what is a person to do? If you are interested in taking herbal supplements to be sure you should only use products that have been approved by the FDA.

Tags: ,
Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D.

Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D. Board-Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility