Talk:Herbal supplement/Archive1

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I don't know that you can really apply Dawkins' quote to herbalism as a whole, but rather more specific instances. Most, if not all, herbalists I've known haven't made ridiculous claims, only that readily available herbs and natural ingredients have healthful properties, something medicine doesn't really disagree with. Individual herbalists or companies selling so-called "herbal viagra remedies" may make outlandish claims, but they're not representative of the whole field. --Kels 15:33, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

Criticism of Herbalism[edit]

It seems fairly obvious that some herbs must work in some sense of the word. The article acknowledges this. My understanding is that problems derive from: 1) Erratic dosage - plants contain different amounts of active ingredient depending on how fresh they are, the season, the soil in which they grew etc etc. This makes dosing a bit hit-or-miss. 2) Purity or contamination - there may not always be stringent quality control systems to ensure the purity of supply. 3) Double blind testing - few (if any) herbs have been subjected to rigorous double blind testing and consequently some work and some don't.--Bob_M (talk) 15:42, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

What I notice is that a large part of the article seems to focus on commercial herbal remedies without noting that this is not representative of all herbalism, although some of the same criticisms apply. --Kels 17:52, 18 June 2007 (CDT)
I'm still working on it, but throw some examples my way for research...this is far from complete.--PalMD-yada yada 17:55, 18 June 2007 (CDT)
Hmm...I'm mainly going from memory and experience here, but if I get a chance later (I'm setting up a site and working on a comic, so I'm a wee bit distracted) I'll look around. --Kels 18:12, 18 June 2007 (CDT)
Thanks much, K. Any other ideas, shoot them my way.--PalMD-yada yada 18:13, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

Regarding the "woo" section: While it is unfortunately phrased, the gist of the quote presented says to me that there are multiple compounds in a whole plant which may work in concert in ways we do not yet understand, while a single compound extracted and standardized may not have the same effect. We have found that using various medications in combination can produce effects far beyond that of each individual medication. (Sometimes unintended side effects, sometimes a great improvement in the desired effect.) Why is it "woo" to think that additional compounds in a plant which have not been studied can have an impact on the studied compound's effects? Mattev 16:54, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Praise of Herbalism[edit]

ALRIGHT NOW! Won't you listen?

When I first met you, didn't realize I can't forget you, for your surprise you introduced me, to my mind And left me wanting, you and your kind

I love you, Oh you know it

My life was empty, forever on a down Until you took me, showed me around My life is free now, my life is clear I love you sweet leaf, though you can't hear

Come on now, try it out

Straight people don't know, what you're about They put you down and shut you out you gave to me a new belief and soon the world will love you sweet leaf

Purple haze all in my brain Lately things just dont seem the same Actin funny, but I dont know why scuse me while I kiss the sky Purple haze all around Dont know if Im comin up or down Am I happy or in misery? What ever it is, that girl put a spell on me Help me Help me Oh, no, no [faint, spoken lyrics...all questionable] Hammerin Talkin bout heart n...s-soul Im talkin about hard stuff If everbodys still around, fluff and ease, if So far out my mind Somethings happening, somethings happening Ooo, ahhh Ooo, {click} ahhh, Ooo, ahhh Ooo, ahhh, yeah! Purple haze all in my eyes, uhh Dont know if its day or night You got me blowin, blowin my mind Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time? Ooo Help me Ahh, yea-yeah, purple haze, yeah Oh, no, oh Oh, help me Purple haze, tell me, baby, tell me I cant go on like this Purple haze Youre makin me blow my mind...mama Purple haze, n-no, nooo Purple haze, no, its painful, baby

MiddleMan 15:51, 18 June 2007 (CDT)


I'll be treating this like all the others...give good and bad evidence. I'll touch on how many herbs do have obvious biologic activity, and in fact are the basis for many modern medications. Evidence for and against specific therapies, problems for the field as a whole...poor quality control, poor evidence of efficacy and safety, etc. Areas for advancement...ethnobotany and the search for cures. Many companies combing the rainforest for new molecules.--PalMD-yada yada 16:22, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

Flax seed[edit]

I'm not sure if it qualifies as a herbal exactly, but it is a natural plant source that's become an increasingly commonly used alternative to the fairly harsh chemical laxatives on the market. When I was doing my mentorship for personal care work, the long-term facility that I was at (Oakwood Terrace, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada) had recently completed a study where they gave ground flax seed in morning meals on a regular basis to individuals who normally used laxatives. They found that their use of chemical laxatives dropped something like 80% within a very short time, with equivalent results as far as resident health was concerned. Further, they were able to avoid some of the side effects of regular use of chemical laxatives, so it was a net gain, to say nothing of the lower cost of the flax seed. --Kels 19:12, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

Trepel, Friedrich. Arzt fur Allgemeinmedizin a.D., Karlsruhe, Deutschland. [Dietary fibre: more than a matter of dietetics. II. Preventative and therapeutic uses]. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift. 116(15-16):511-22, 2004 Aug 31.
Only published study I could find on the topic. My guess is it's much more common in Europe.User:PalMD 19:20, 18 June 2007 (CDT)
It's gained a lot of traction in Canada. Back east, most of the long-term facilities are switching over. I wasn't sure if it would qualify, but it does point out the fact that some manufactured medications have downsides that a less processed alternative addresses. But again, it varies considerably from one product to another. --Kels 21:05, 18 June 2007 (CDT)
Yes, although flax seed is not too much different from psyllium fiber (metamucil) and makes not dramatic claims. It has a plausible, well-described mechanism of action. As some one said, alternative medicine is medicine that hasn't yet become mainstream. --PalMD-yada yada 21:41, 18 June 2007 (CDT)

cover story[edit]

(please do not archive this section)

  • SusanG - nominated it, so probably "yes"
  • Yes, it's a good article and smack dab "on mission" humanUser talk:Human 11:27, 29 January 2008 (EST)
In the absence of any dissent (or, for that matter, any discussion!) I'm going to tag it "approved" now. humanUser talk:Human 21:11, 11 February 2008 (EST)

The indefinite article and the letter H[edit]

an "herbal remedy"

Just so you know, it sounds utterly foreign to European ears. We pronounce the H. Brianetta 18:49, 22 February 2008 (EST)

Both some versions of Commlish and Amlish leave an H such as this as not much more than an aspiration. Of course, this particular one is a more defined difference. Ironically, this is the only "leading H" the British pronounce, IIRC. humanUser talk:Human 20:03, 22 February 2008 (EST)
That does rather depend on regional accent. Britain has several hundred of those, some unintelligible even to other Britons. Most people I know would, for example, pronounce the H in 'hotel' or 'hospital', but not 'have.' It's a laziness thing, rather than a grammar thing.Brianetta 08:16, 4 March 2008 (EST)
It has nothing to do with laziness. Language varies through time and place.— (talk) 02:53, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

"Clinically proven"[edit]

What does it mean? Many herbal "remedies" are "clinically proven", especially the really suspicious ones. The fact that the word "proven" is even in there makes me even more suspicious. Does anyone know the legal requirements to use this phrase on an herbal supplement? JazzMan 01:50, 13 October 2008 (EDT)

Valerian Root[edit]

Valerian Root make ya sleep. It works just fine ! Rest is hocus pocus. But That stuff knocks ya out if you take toom uch! cheers fellas

Gonna hafta agree with that. I've been having a tough time sleeping, and Valerian is the answer, no doubt. Solid sleep, wake not feeling dazed. Yep, anecdotal evidence, but it works for me, every time. DogPMarmite Patrol 23:22, 24 September 2010 (UTC)


Many people use willow bark instead of aspirin.

Aspirin, of course, is an extract from willow bark, as are all salicylates.

The father of modern medicine was Hippocrates, who lived sometime between 460 B.C and 377 B.C. Hippocrates was left historical records of pain relief treatments, including the use of powder made from the bark and leaves of the willow tree to help heal headaches, pains and fevers.

By 1829, scientists discovered that it was the compound called salicin in willow plants which gave you the pain relief.

Might be an interesting point to mention. Many useful compounds are found in plants. Mattev 16:50, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes, it's clear that at a certain point herbalism works - but I don't think the article denies this. But problems are caused by erratic dosing as plants may vary; questions of purity or contamination; and the lack of double-blind testing. It might be better if these problems were more clearly expressed.--Bobbing up 17:38, 1 June 2009 (UTC)
"Aspirin, of course, is an extract from willow bark" no it isn't, it is synthesized. Its usefulness to us, of course, does date back to chewing willow bark to ease toothache... ħumanUser talk:Human 02:59, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Dosage and purity are the other issues, I would think besides the pesky acetyl group (stomach ulcers anyone?). How much bark do you want to chomp on? Sterile alpaca 03:03, 23 September 2009 (UTC)


St John's wort is a pretty flower, but wouldn't the article be better served by a picture of the pill rather than the plant, as that's what people actually take? Totnesmartin 08:48, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

When I was into that kind of stuff, I preferred to take the tincture, either dropped right onto the tongue or in some tisane or other. My German friend, now an MD, told me that they said the plant was only effective if harvested after St. John's day, a week or so after the summer solstice. So it would seem that there are those who use the plant itself. A pill is a pill, looking a lot like most other pills. What would be the value of such an image? If they want pix of pills, let them read the PDR. Having said that, I recuse myself, since I posted that image. Sprocket J Cogswell 02:04, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Both might be funny... if handled well. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:56, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Article name[edit]

Is this article well named? To my mind a "supplement" is something you take in addition to something else. Perhaps you feel that you need something additional in your diet like iron.

What this article is talking about is Herbal "medicines" or Herbal treatments.--BobNot Jim 07:51, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

In the US, calling them "herbal supplements" (dietary supplements) avoids their regulation as drugs. Sprocket J Cogswell 12:37, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
I've added that as a footnote. If you know any more info on it, please feel free to add. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 12:40, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

cut from article[edit]

I was going to move this new section lower, but not sure it's really useful in any way. Keep in mind that this is a cover story.

==Some Common herbal Remedies==
Lemon or Lemon Juice-For treatment of a sore throat
Mint-For an upset stomach
Ginger-For an upset stomach
Aloe Vera-Skin care, esspecially useful for treating minor burns
Lavender-Useful for treating minor burns
  • note* this entry does not constitute medical advise. Rationalwiki is in no way responsible for any adverse reactions you may suffer. And quite frankly, if you are using a wiki for medical advice, you have some serious f**kin problems mate

END OF CUT ħumanUser talk:Human 19:43, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Ganfyd - medical wiki.

Some herbal remedies have some benefits even for 'get better quickly by themselves' minor ailments. Some minor ailments can be treated with as well with herbal remedies as with Over the Counter remedies and Qualified Medical Practitioner treatments (at vast expense) - and using eg lemon juice to cure a throat will prevent the spread of the infection while queuing up to pay.

So long as there are 'if symptoms persist, consult appropriate medical provider' statements there should be no problem (and 'there is no cure for deliberate stupidity'). (talk) 17:41, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Congressional investigation[edit]

Contaminants found in supplements Hat tip 13:34, 26 May 2010 (UTC) SusanG Toast

Appeal of Herbalism[edit]

I think the appeal of herbalism is how accesible it is. No big scary names, no visits to the Doctor, no nasty side effects (usually) I see no down side when they are used to treat low grade illness. Growing up my mothers garden was like a freakin drug store, and if I was sick, we just walked out to the garden and got what wee needed. Sore throat? honey and lemon, upset stomach? mint tea stuffy nose? euclyptus oil. Essential oils were huge too. Tea tree is a good antibiotic and antifungal agent, and lavender oil is a muscle relaxant. There was very little in the way of negative side effects and it saved a fortune on asprin, alchahol swabs, and robitussin. Mind you, if i ever get cancer, I'm still gonna go to the hospital for chemo...maybe--BenB (talk) 17:40, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

The thing about these scary names is that people who favour herbal supliments just choose not to use them. "Willow bark extract" sounds much better than salicylic acid (or even scarier; 2-Hydroxybenzoic acid) - even though that's what it is. Indeed, what happened when evidence based medicine started looking at it was that it was these compounds that were extracted and modified to be more effective; in terms of effect and side effects. And this is where we get Asprin from (acetylsalicylic acid or 2-acetoxybenzoic acid in IUPAC). The difference between the active ingredients in the original herbs (at least the ones that work) and the pills you get from a pharmacists are usually very minimal - well, perhaps the major difference is that the pills have been more throughly tested! Scarlet A.pnggnostic 17:50, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
The problem with plants is that the concentration of active ingredients varies from plant to plant. This means that it is impossible to know how much you are taking unless you obtain standardised extracts. For minor ailments this might not be a great problem, expecially if the medicine is only treating the symptoms rather than the underlying complaint but even honey and lemon or eucalyptus aren't as effective as some pharmaceuticals in drying up a really bad cold. Digitalis/digoxin was found to be good for treating atrial fibrillation but has a narrow therapeutic index before it becomes toxic. Many herbal products can also have effects which can either neutralise or enhance the efficacy of a prescription medicine. Until recently I was taking warfarin for my own intermittent atrial fibrillation to prevent blood clotting in the heart, during that period I had to keep way from things like St. Johns Wort which can increase the INR (blood clotting coefficient) outside of the recommended range. Too much of the stuff and you could have serious bleeding problems. I think herbalism appeals because it is "natural" which is somehow seen as OK, however, arsenic, nicotine, belladonna, etc. are also natural but not things you want to be self-medicating with. I also like collecting and cooking mushrooms but stick to things that are eaily identifiable as safe. You can really come a cropper if you pick the wrong one there. Redchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic? 18:14, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
P.S. You also need to be aware of the pitfalls of self-diagnosis. It's not unknown for people to treat themselves for haemorrhoids when they actually have bowel cancer. Redchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic? 18:18, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
I suppose your "concentration" issue is very important; you'd expect these things to contain only traces of the active ingredients so overdosing is difficult, but that's not the case. Think about the chocolate covered coffee beans you can get, have more than three-four of those in quick succession and you'll quickly come to regret it (unless you have an established tolleraance) - and yet last time I saw them passed around, people instinctively thought it was okay to scoff them like they were M&Ms! Scarlet A.pnggnostic 18:22, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Its true that the drugs are often time the same (like you said, willow bark extract is known scientifically as whatever) but the NAME still sounds less intimidating and THAT is what people remember. with the self diagnosis bit, yeah that is a problem with herbal medicine, but its also a problem with convential medicine. Personally, I used herbal medicine because it was always accesible and usually safe. Plus lets face it, hot water and lem with honey (my mothers "cure" for a sore throat) tastes a hell of alot better than robitussian. Plus, I can drink as much as a want and i dont have to worry about liver damage, upset stomach etc. Mint tea tastes better than peptobismal, and tea tree is a hell of alot less embarrising to buy than atheletes foot creme. herbal supplements have their place, esspecially amongst minor illness, but they shouldnt take the place of conventianal medicine.

PS pot is a far far far far far far far safer pain medicine than is vicodine or oxycontine. hell maybe more so than asprin--BenB (talk) 18:28, 22 September 2010 (UTC)

Therein lies your problem if you think you can drink as much lemon and honey as you like, it can make you quite ill overdosing on anything that has a genuine medicinal effect. Scarlet A.pnggnostic 18:33, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
I had included pot in my original posting but removed it before submitting. I think that the levels of THC in modern strains of cannabis are significantly higher than they were when I was a student so using pot as pain relief can also have other unintended consequences, as can any mood-altering drugs. Adverse affects of drugs are not solely related to biochemical damage. And as Armondikov points out, too much honey in a short time can upset you blood-sugar levelsRedchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic? 18:39, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
That's actually a good point about honey and blood sugar. I never thought of that. have to remember that the next time i get a cold. But seriously, with the pot thing? Yeah maybe pot is more potent than before. The only people who think that is a really bad thing are the jackasses of faux news. Even if pot were more potent, it would still take a rediculously high (haha get it, high) amount of pot to kill someone. and the addiction level of pot is pretty low. its purley psychological, not physical--BenB (talk) 20:28, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Any mood-altering high can lead you to do things that you might not do when perfectly "sober". Higher levels of TCH could have unexpected consequences. I don't think that you need an uncontrolled high for pain control but if you don't know exactly what you are taking you could take more than you intended. Of course nothing is completely risk free but sometimes you need a safe space. Redchuck.gif ГенгисIs the Pope a Catholic? 21:22, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Dude when i'm high im usually not doing anything stupid. I sit on my sofa with a bag of chilli doritoes and watch tv. I dont do anything stupid. alls you are doing is rehashing the tired old arguments against pot--BenB (talk) 01:57, 23 September 2010 (UTC)
I nominate this for "lamest thread ever". Ben, when you are this high, you should stick to the doritos and not try to make sense on the innertubes, kay? ħumanUser talk:Human 06:35, 23 September 2010 (UTC)


I changed the entry for garlic effectiveness to "Garlic: insufficient data, claimed to help with colds and heart health. If nothing else, it will repel vampires. Also makes your food taste good."

I'm not sure what insufficient data means, exactly, but I added a reference (a study), so maybe it could be changed to "Garlic: claimed to help with colds. [Or "one study shows that it helps with colds".] Also claimed to help with heart health, but insufficient evidence. If nothing else, it will repel vampires. Also makes your food taste good." What do you think? --KreJ (talk) 00:49, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

If you check wikipedia, there are countless studies showing garlic's effectiveness on pubmed. They wouldn't be on pubmed if they were nonsense, especially not to that extent. If you deny it, you're just denying science. I knew the people at rationalwiki were suspicious of this sort of thing, but I didn't think you were going to absurd science-denying lengths to enforce your "ideology".

When I take something with a lot of aflatoxins, eg. dried figs, I try to take raw garlic afterwards because this has been shown to drastically decrease tumour incidence in at least one study in goats. Are you really going to tell me that this scientific, peer-reviewed study isn't true? If you claim that you're engaging in anti-science quackery, you can't just dismiss the clear peer-reviewed science.

And from my own perspective as an instinctivo type of eater, it doesn't make much sense to me either that garlic could be so powerful against so many things. However it just is, and if you deny it you're denying science. Don't be a denialist. SuperInfinity (talk) 16:25, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps a mention 'Also a vampire-deterrent' (which would sum up much of the woo). (talk) 14:03, 19 June 2015 (UTC)


I'm asking because this is a cover story, otherwise I'd just do it

So, here's a short list of websites that check on the value of dietary supplements (including herbal supplements, but also things like protein shakes, vitamins, pre-work outs, etc):

  • Medline Database:
  • Consumer Lab:
  • The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:
  • Supplement Watch:
  • Food and Drug Administration:
  • Institute of Food Technologies:
  • National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements:

Basically, they're like, but focused. Good topic for inclusion? Also, in the See Also section there should be a link to the Vitamin supplement and Nutritional supplement articles.--Logic and Empricism (talk) 02:18, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Works for me. Humorless fascistsociopath 03:28, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
Aye, with reservations:
  • Instead of the Medline database link, I'd go directly to
  • At first glance, Consumer Lab looks OK. The site does carry a whiff of self-promotion, which may not be indicative of anything.
  • The AJCN link looks good.
  • redirects to Shawn M. Talbott's Amazon "Author Central" page.
  • The FDA cfsan link seems malformed; it takes me to a Yahoo search results page.
  • The IFT page will need a lot of further digging to produce results, which may or may not be useful to the general public.
  • The NIH ODS page looks good.
The proposed "See also" links ought to be uncontroversial, so I went ahead and added them. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 17:43, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine[edit]

Should that be included here or should that be separately included? ThiehZOYG I edit like Ken! 21:35, 15 March 2013 (UTC)

The benefits of herbal remedies[edit]

Some herbal remedies have their uses in certain contexts ('Herbs and beauty treatments'; 'Quck sore throat cure' and similar) - and if people recognise that 'herbs and spices etc' have their particular uses and limits (but if problems persist seek proper medical etc advice) then there will be few problems. There is also a case for 'medicinal products' to be as plain as possible (as some people may react to certain components, or there are unwanted results of combining with other drugs and foods - eg grapefood and certain drugs).

The problems are (a) excessive promotion of 'natural products' over 'chemicals' (in the particular sense used in this context) and 'assorted woo whether mystical or not' (phases of the moon and runcible spoons) and 'deliberate stupidity/excessive mistrust of 'the authorities'(who want your money). (talk) 17:06, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

Science-based evidence.[edit]

Please stop reverting what I wrote about garlic, I am just writing what has the science has said. What is written there before was plainly ideologically driven and anti-science nonsense. SuperInfinity (talk) 16:30, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Maybe if you added sources? Just a thought.--Кřěĵ (ṫåɬк) 20:14, 19 June 2014 (UTC)