PhytoNOTE #9

Consumer education: effective product or just pixie-dust?

The purchase of products that turn out to have no effect leads to frustrated consumers that stop believing in the health benefit of botanicals and come to the conclusion that "natural products don't work for me". This damages the whole natural products industry.

Consumer #education is needed to help people identify effective, high quality products. It is not easy to understand the mechanism of action of botanicals. Herbal extracts are usually #MulticomponentSystems with an effect based on synergistically interacting actives, as opposed to chemical drugs containing a few well defined and described molecules.

There are some aspects that might be useful to consider when buying botanical supplements:

1.The characteristics of the ingredients: is it just milled plant material? a concentrated plant extracts? a science backed botanical ingredient? a natural active pharmaceutical ingredient? The product lable should indicate this.

2. Is the effect #scientifically proven or based on traditional use reflected in a monography? On the company’s website, information describing the clinical trials and and the scientific rational can be found, explaining an ingredients efficacy.

3.#PixieDust (or fairy-dust) are ineffectivley low doses. The amount of the ingredient used in the product is key and has to be related to the effective dose studied in clinical trials or defined through traditional use.

4. #Adulturation with similar looking but less active plants or synthetic products can be the result of limited supply or high prices of raw material and is impossible to detect for the consumer. The best way to make sure the product contains what it claims to contain is to buy from serious, #reliable companies, paying a realistic price.

Botanicals are effective if used in an appropriate way, as thousands of years of traditional use have shown.
Ticking these boxes increases the chances to find a product that "really works”.