Online shopping, dropshipping and manufacturing technology has made the production and distribution of herbal supplements (and all supplements come to that) easier than ever. A few years ago most herbal supplement belonged to international companies whose factories had quality assurance checks and complied with good manufacturing practice. There were brands that were household names and each of us felt that we could trust. That's not to say that massive international supplement companies are the only ones worth it, I am just pointing out that there was less "noise" to go through.
The changes in variety, availability, pricing, sourcing and research resulted in a tremendous amount of supplement influx into the market, some of which are (as expected) scam. Poor quality ingredients, flashy misinforming labels, unregulated substances and so on and so on (insert Slavoj Zizek joke here).
So, in order not to keep you waiting any longer, here are my tips on how to check your herbal supplements for quality and not get scammed:
) Forget about the label
Labels can been misleading and may promise things that have never been evaluated. How many times have you seen on a weight loss supplement "Will help you lose x amount of bodyfat in y weeks! *"? You see that asterisk there? If you look it up, somewhere on the label with tiny letters, the explanation of the asterisk states that “These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA" and frequently they haven't been evaluated by anyone.
You may also see "X amount of substance" on the label, only to find that this amount is what the maximum recommended dosage contains, and not a single serving.
Key point: Read the ingredients. Only the ingredient section and not the front or side of the labels. That way you can also spot whether the product contains unsafe sweeteners or any substance you may want to avoid.
2) Do not take testimonials for grante
Oftentimes, I see testimonials from users of certain supplements and then find that the top testimonials were written by friends, family or associates of the person selling/manufacturing the supplement. Don't get me wrong, I would do the same too. If you sell or manufacture a supplement that you believe can optimize health, why wouldn't you want to help your family and friends first? But don't forget that such testimonials can be biased. My parents could never be as tough and objective critics on something I do as a stranger on the internet can. (well, I don't mean trolls, but people that actual give you constructive feedback you can work with).
Key point: DO read the testimonials, but with a grain of sense. Don't get hyped because 5 people said it's a miracle.
3) Check the source (seller/manufacturer)
Are they qualified in the domain of the supplement? Are they selling the supplement as a side-sell of their online course/product? Just because a fitness instructor's programme is effective and on point, doesn't mean that they are a reliable source of supplements too. You may have seen fitness gurus that after you buy their transformation protocol, they try to sell you their protein powder, weight loss supplement, multivitamins etc. Do not fall for it.
ey point: Check the background and qualifications of the seller and manufacturer. Look for the place of manufacturing and if it has a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certificate.
4) Do your own research on the ingredients and claim
It may sound like a lot of work and it is, but isn't your health worth it? "Research shows x herb helps with y" statement on the website of the product is not a legitimate reason to buy it. Go on Google Scholar, search for the substance, read a few studies about it and then search for both the terms we need to look at; substance and condition we are looking to treat. I.e. if Garcinia Cambogia for weight loss if what you are after, first check studies on Garcinia Cambogia in general, that way you can read about side-effects, interactions or any other observations on the herb that the supplement company didn't mention. Then check the term "Garcinia Cambogia + Weight loss" and see if there are any studies actually carried out on that topic (I'm all about placebo controlled studies. Sometimes it may be difficult or inefficient, sure, but my general motto for checking the effectiveness of any substance is "Randomized double-blind placebo-controlled or it didn't happen")
Key point: Google Scholar. Check the herb/substance you are looking for and then check the herb/substance and the reason you are taking it for. If no studies what-so-ever, better keep off for now.
ell that's all for now. I hope you found this article helpful and if you did, share it and help prevent more people getting scammed.
Stay healthy my friends.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical doctor. The above statements are not intended to diagnose or treat any conditions and are just the authors personal opinions. Always check with your medical professional or physician before implementing any changes in your diet, lifestyle, or medication.