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In many countries around the globe, herbal supplements, tisanes and vegetable products, together with traditional Chinese medicines, are mostly unregulated and their content is not registered, examined or certified. Subsequently, potent plant toxins including dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids and other forthcoming carcinogens can contaminate these products. As herbal and food supplement producers are left to their own means to determine the safety and purity of their products before marketing, disturbingly often good marketing practices currently in place are ignored and content is largely undocumented. As herbal medicines are used by increasing numbers of people, pharmacists must be knowledgeable about their safety. This requires appreciation of the magnitude of use, as well as regulations under which the products are marketed that may affect their safety. Unexpected effects of many popular herbal products are described in the text. Thus the pharmacist’s role in ensuring protection of the consumer continues to grow. Hence, more work is needed to educate consumers of the potential risk and require the industry to be more responsible to verify the content and insure the safety of their products.

Safety Concerns for Herbal Drugs inspects the information required to review for you the balance between the risks and benefits related with the therapeutic use of medicinal plants. It focuses attention on the safety and toxicity aspects of herbal products. It also presents an overview of some of the most commonly used herbal products, including important clinical considerations in the use of these products.

Herbal products and dietary supplements are widely available in supermarkets and other retail outlets, as well as by mail order. In fact, only a small percentage of these products are actually sold in pharmacies. Many patients believe they derive health benefits from these herbal preparations, yet some remain skeptical and may seek advice from health professionals prior to use. Thus, it is important for all health professionals, to be informed about available products and to be aware of any potential problems associated with their use. This text should be of valuable for medical students, health professionals, researchers as well as practitioners.