The Regulation of Herbs

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is always in the news when it comes to medications that people take. There is a misconception on their involvement with herbs and supplements. Are herbs regulated?

A simple answer to this is no. The herbal supplements that you purchase do not go through FDA testing and are not held up the official standards.


Any product that promises physical benefits to one’s health is subject to FDA standards. Take a closer look at your herbal bottles. There should not be any comment promising results with your arthritis or cold. If it does, the FDA will put it through testing.

Proposals to have herbs and similar supplements under FDA guidelines have been proposed multiple times over the last few decades. For many, the FDA would ensure the proper quality and dosage recommendations. For others, it could be a way to bring some of the money back to the pharmaceutical companies.

Why would having herbs regulated be beneficial? Regulated medicines have been tested, and their claims are proven. Standard doses would be created along with other official analysis. To many, this would be worth it all to have herbs standardized. They feel that the quality would be much better and results guaranteed.

Why would having herbs regulated be disastrous? Every single herbal grower would be under new regulations. Strict scrutiny would go into every aspect of herbal growth, harvesting, and processing. Yes, this sounds good, but your herbal supplements will now cost the standard $40-$100 per pill that many of the pharmaceutical drugs cost today. The cost of the FDA regulation would send the cost of herbs skyrocketing. Many of the herbs would be unobtainable until years of testing had been performed.

The next question comes to the herbs that are commonly grown at home. How would the regulations extend to them? A whole new ballgame opens up.

Having herbs regulated would require testing them in all the various manners that they are used. It could take years and years to get just a handful completed. It becomes a very slippery slope.

Are herbs regulated? No. If the manufacturers and supplier promise medical results, then they have to come under FDA scrutiny. If doctors, herbalists, and other professionals direct you to take them, they do not have to be regulated. The regulation of herbs is desired by many and have been proposed, but so far nothing has come to fruition.

Rebecca Graf
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