What are Herbs?
Herbs are herbaceous or short-stemmed plants that are valued for their
flavour, fragrance or curative properties. They are used in medicinal,
perfumery, cosmetics and for culinary purposes. The valuable part may
be the leaf, flower, seed, stem, root or entire plant.
The use of herbs for medicinal purposes is growing in popularity. Herbs
have a rich history dating to ancient civilizations. In earlier times,
herbs were the main source of medicines. Even today, many of drugs and
medicines are derived from herbal sources.
Each herb is different. While some are safe and effective for specific
uses, others are not. Herbs can have undesirable side-effects just as
pharmaceutical products can. Herbal products can be as toxic as manufactured
ones and can interact with conventional medicines. However, it may take
more to cause toxicity, because herbs usually are not as potent as manufactured
Herbal products, categorized as nutritional supplements, are not regulated.
The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates prescription drugs,
only reviews an herbal product if the item is suspected of being harmful
or if the label contains a medical claim. Look for herbal supplements
with labels showing they are manufactured according to United States Pharmacopeia