Food and Drug Administration (FDA) characterizes all herbal, vitamin
and mineral supplements (including diet pills) as "dietary
supplements." Dietary supplements come in all shapes and sizes—pills,
gel capsules, liquid and powder—and they can include any
number of ingredients. Most often, supplements will be vitamins,
minerals, amino acids, herbs or plants (also referred to as botanicals),
or a mixture of these substances.
The tricky thing about dietary supplements is that they are not
approved by the FDA before they go on the market. The FDA gives
these supplements time on the shelves and stores, to see if consumers
have any problems when they take them. Essentially, you are a "guinea
pig" in a test lab when you buy and use these supplements.
Of course, some supplements have been tested, so check out the
label to make sure.
Beware of "miracle supplements." Any drugs advertised
as producing "quick results" or "miracle cures" are
probably not going to have the effect they say. Ask your doctor
if you feel skeptical about any type of supplement you might want
Some types of herbs are a part of complementary
and alternative medicine treatments. Again, most of these
herbal products have not been tested for health risks of for
efficacy. Although many herbal products help some women, for
example some herbal supplements are recommended for the relief
of symptoms associated with menopause,
none of the effects of these herbs have been scientifically proven.