Natural remedies can be a beautiful thing. There are med-free solutions for everything from high cholesterol to chronic pain to mild depression to yeast infections. And many times, they're totally safe. But then there are those other times—in some instances, natural remedies can be downright dangerous. Especially herbal remedies. In a recent report, scientists at Baylor College of Medicine called herbal remedies a "global health hazard," due to their potential to contain carcinogens or other toxic compounds.
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It sounds alarming. But Brent A. Bauer, MD, director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, says there's no need to panic. It's not that there's no risk involved with taking herbal supplements, but Bauer says it's about as risky as taking medicine your doctor prescribes because both could have unforeseen side effects.
But you can't ignore the fact that herbal supplements don't follow the same strict guidelines and regulations as drugs that go through the FDA for approval. According to Paul Offit, MD, author of Do You Believe In Magic: The Sense and Nonsense Of Alternative Medicine, that means you can never really know what you're buying. The safest supplements will have USP certification (the US Pharmacopeial Convention guarantees that what is on a supplement's label is what is actually in the bottle), and you should never take anything without consulting a doctor first.
Still, there are some products that should always make you wary. Here are four types to avoid.
This article was originally published by our partners at Prevention.