How can one know which brand of herbal supplements is best and most credible?

I spend alot of money buying alot of herbal and nutritional supplements, but lately I've been wondering how one can know which supplements truly contain the ingredients that they claim in the amounts that they claim, and whether they are manufactured with quality standards, etc. Since they aren't regulated, how can one know for sure. Are there any brands that are frequently tested by independent labs, and how does one know that the supplement company is not just paying off the lab to give it a passing score? I'm obsessing over this but don't know how to find credible information about it. Can anyone help? Thank you.

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6 Comments

  1. Good question, because these products are essentially unregulated.
    http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/ds-savvy.html

    Sometimes they are contaminated. Here's a list of supplement warnings and recalls from the FDA:
    http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/ds-warn.html

    This site claims to review supplements, but you need to suscribe. The NIH has a review of the site, but doesn't mention the accuracy of the testing.
    http://www.consumerlab.com/
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=521528

    Consumer Reports sometimes evaluates supplements, but I think this site also requires a subscription:
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health-fitness/drug-supplement-index.htm

    I'd be interested to know about other third-party testing.

  2. Kristin G says:

    Well, whole foods have nutritional value that they're advertising in these supplements. Why buy supplements when you can get your daily intake of vitamins through the real deal: WHOLE FOODS!!! If you're spending a lot on herbal and nutritional supplements, why not buy organic foods, and fresh herbs to cook with? Lab tests will show that most of the vitamins and supplements you're taking is only expected to absorb about 30% of it 'nutritional value' into your system. Most people pass these pills without ANYTHING absorbing into their systems! I believe this is because we're not meant to get our daily vitamins from pills, but rather from whole foods. Here's a few sites with great information on the latest findings in supplements versus whole foods:
    http://www.naturalhealthweb.com/articles/perez1.html
    http://www.uga.edu/foodservice/nutrition/0402-0408.pdf
    http://www.nbizz.com/naturalhealthdoc/page2.html
    http://www.familynutritiononline.com/whole_food_supplements.htm

    Good luck to you & happy healthy eating!!

  3. Jason Homan says:

    Hi Dani, before buying any herbal supplements, you need to have an adequate knowledge about what you’re buying and always consult your physician first.

    Herbal supplements are not being approved by the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration before being sold, because the FDA is not authorized to do so. Thus, government oversight and consumer protection is quite inadequate. You must keep in mind that even though these products are supposed to contain what their labels claim, this is not always the case.

    However, you can always expect certain information from the labels of these herbal supplements. This information includes the name of the herbal supplement, the net quantity of the contents, a Supplement Facts panel where you can see serving or dosage sizes and active ingredients, and other ingredients, such as amino acids. You can also see the manufacturer’s name and address on the label or container.

    If you want get the best and the safest herbal supplement products, always look for the U.S. Pharmacopeia's "USP Dietary Supplement Verified" seal. This indicates that the product has met manufacturing standards for cleanliness, uniformity, and the lack of contaminants such as lead and mercury, or other chemicals. Also look for single-herb products that show how much of the herb each dosage contains, not those that are only mixtures of several herbs with unknown proportions.
    Jason Homan

  4. I would check into the company. They have to be credible. In addition, how many people do you know taking the products who have experienced the kinds of results you are looking for? There are a lot of questions you need answer to, but maybe you need someone you can talk to about this and build a relationship and belief in a product line with real life stories and maybe visit the company as well. Keep searching the company you are looking for is out there.

  5. For safety, quality ingredients, RESEARCHED and well absorbed, you MUST go with pharmaceutical grade vitamins/supplements. These are the only products on the market that are truly researched and can be trusted. They are not sold at ANY retail outlet, including Whole Foods, GNC, or drugstores. You'll need to go to physicians to buy them, chiropractors are usually your best bet for these. Doesn't mean you need to get treated by the chiropractor (although I recommend that too!) but most sell pharm-grade vitamins/herbs in their waiting room.

    2 brands that I know are wonderful:
    Xymogen
    Metagenics

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