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Herbal Medicine

-- Herbal supplements have exploded into a $5 billion industry but remain unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration. While herbs are regarded as a safe and gentler alternative to conventional drugs they can cause problems when mixed with standard medication. On Tuesday's The Early Show Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay gave examples of dangerous herb-drug interactions and informed viewers how to check for more information.


Herbal supplements are extremely popular. One recent poll suggested 60 million Americans are taking some form of herbal supplement and are spending an average of $54 a year on herbs.


Compared to prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbs are seen as safe products. Between 1993-98 the FDA received 2,600 reports of problems and 101 deaths linked to herbal supplements. Meanwhile every year in the United States 100,000 people die from problems associated with traditional drugs.


However, researchers are sounding an alarm over dangerous herb-drug interactions. Herbs have medicinal properties that can trigger serious reactions when combined with conventional pharmaceuticals.
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