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Studies Urge Caution With Herbal Remedies

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Millions of Americans regularly use herbal therapies and supplements.

But a couple of new studies have some bad news regarding some of them. It's a reminder that people need to use a degree of caution when turning to herbal remedies.

Take a quick trip around the internet and there is no shortage of sites advertising herbal and alternative therapies.

These sell a wide variety of products with a wide variety of health claims, everything from echinacea for infections to ginseng for stress.

But a study in the journal of the American Medical Association found many of those claims are misleading, unproven, and in some cases against the law.

Of 443 sites, 292 made claims that they could cure or prevent disease without providing any evidence to support those claims.

In addition, federal law requires products to carry a statement saying they are not intended to treat or prevent disease.

More than half of the products sold over the internet did not carry those warnings.

On the flip side, another study in the journal found that St. John's wort may be too active. St. John's wort is a herb commonly used to treat mild to moderate depression.

Studies have found that the herb can interfere with the effectiveness of some chemotherapy drugs and aids medications.

Now this latest study says St. John's wort may alter the activity of an enzyme found in almost half of all medications. That could mean those medications either don't work as well or may need larger doses to achieve the desired effect.

This is another reminder that herbs are not to be taken lightly.

It's also a warning that they can interact with other drugs.

That's why it's so important to talk to your doctor and let them know about any herbal remedies you are taking.

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