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The rapid rise in the popularity and use of herbal supplements in the past few years has sparked a great deal of concern in the health care community.
At a recent professional meeting of hospital pharmacists in South Carolina, Doug Murray, PharmD, director of pharmacy and clinical services at Kershaw County Medical Center in Camden, SC, and an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy in Columbia, received the following guidelines on herbal use, which he suggests providers share with their patients:
1. Do not take herbal supplements if you are pregnant or trying to conceive.
2. Do not take herbal supplements if you are lactating.
3. Do not give herbal supplements to infants and young children.
4. Herbal supplements are not miracle drugs. Maintain realistic expectations about the benefits of herbal supplements.
5. Use standardized products when available. Products should have the scientific name and quantity of the botanical clearly identified on the label. The name and address of the manufacturer, lot numbers, and expiration date should also be clearly marked on the label.
6. Stop taking a product immediately if adverse effects occur.