For thousands of years herbs have been used for their flavoring in the preparation of food and for their medicinal and healing properties. In the United States, there is no comprehensive system in place for the approval of traditional herbal claims. Nutritional supplements are given legal definition and legitimacy under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). Under DSHEA, herbal products will be standardized and regulated for product labeling.

The United States Pharmacopoiea (USP) is a non-profit organization that uses subcommittees and advisory panels to set drug, nutritional supplement, and herbal standards. These standards are subject to public review and are continuously updated and published. The next official herbal monographs from the USP may not be completed until the year 2001.

Until herbal products are standardized and regulated, there is no way to determine standards for safe dosing and effectiveness. Currently, we can not judge their potential for dangerous interactions with other herbal products or with legitimate pharmaceutical products.

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