Experts warn vs. unregulated health supplements, medicines

Published by rudy Date posted on February 18, 2009

Not all food supplements and herbal medicines being sold in the market are safe, local health experts warned during a recent forum.

But the experts added that taking other similar products that have been approved by regulators is “not bad” and “can really help” people.

Because the apparently unregulated food supplements and herbal medicines are within easy reach of ordinary Filipinos, Dr. Ludgerio Torres, the director of the Philippine Heart Center, and Perla Esguerra, the chief dietitian of the center, advised prospective customers to take extra care in choosing the products they want to buy.

Torres also warned against taking drugs that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States because, he said, these drugs could endanger one’s health.

He pointed out that the food supplements and herbal medicines from China being sold in the Philippines are unlikely to have been approved by the FDA.

To guard against such supplements and medicines, Torres also advised the public to look for the FDA seal of approval stamped on these products. If these supplements and medicines do not carry the seal, he said, it would be better not to buy them.

“Taking food supplements is not bad, as long as people are careful in choosing the right stuff for them and they make sure that what they are buying are FDA-approved,” Torres said.

What is risky in taking imported, apparently unregulated food supplements and herbal medicines, he added, is that people could opt to take them instead of the drugs prescribed to them by their doctors. For one with serious illness, Torres said, this option could be highly dangerous.

Esguerra also advised the public to see a doctor first before taking any food supplements or herbal medicines, especially those who already have health problems.

“These supplements can really help but people should consult a doctor first to make sure that there is no danger in taking them,” she said.
— Jefferson Antiporda, Manila Times

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