Features November 2010 Issue

Supplements: Are They Worth the Gamble?

Many herbal and dietary pills and potions are expensive, unproven, and can be harmful to your health. Use care when taking them with your regular medications.

When conventional medicine fails to relieve your arthritis pain and stiffness, you may be tempted to seek relief from the myriad herbal and dietary supplements that line the shelves of drugstores and supermarkets. But doing so is risky, according to a recent report in Chemical & Engineering News. The report points out that scientists know little about the ingredients in many of these products and what effects they may have on the body. And because, unlike drugs, they’re not rigorously regulated, herbal and dietary supplements may contain more or less of an "active" ingredient than is stated on the label; be contaminated by toxic metals such as lead or mercury; or be made from a plant or other substance that is itself toxic.

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