Difference from drugs & supplements

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Medicinal Plant Products: The Difference Between Medicinal Products and Dietary Supplements

Preparations from medicinal plants can not only be obtained in Germany from the pharmacy, drugstores, health food stores or supermarkets also offer products that contain medicinal plants in various forms. The food supplements in particular not only promise health benefits, but are often difficult to distinguish from medicines in terms of their form. To the disadvantage of the user, because the differences are important in important characteristics.

"Unfortunately, there is no clear differentiation especially in the area of ​​herbal preparations," explained Prof. Dr. Theodor Dingermann, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Committee for Research on Natural Medicine (KFN), on this. It has become common that herbal preparations based on a medicinal plant are perceived. But that is wrong.

Herbal medicinal products, like chemical-synthetic ones, are intended for medical use, i.e. primarily for the treatment of complaints and diseases. They must be approved by the federal authority (BfArM), which requires a review of their quality, effectiveness and safety, as well as a determination of the daily dose. Their manufacture is also subject to ongoing monitoring.

Dietary supplements, on the other hand, are intended for healthy people. Like food, they should contribute to maintaining health. Legally, they are treated as food. This means that there is no surveillance for them and the authorities only intervene if there is a specific suspicion. The consumer must therefore decide on the quality and safety of these preparations themselves.

Prof. Dingermann therefore calls on the public to raise awareness of the facts in this area. Herbal preparations always contain, according to the justification, also substances that are incorrectly dosed or not used correctly and can be harmful to health. In Germany, corresponding information is largely guaranteed for medicinal products. In contrast, when it comes to food supplements, the consumer is dependent on his own knowledge, especially if he buys them in the drugstore, supermarket or even on the Internet.

In the case of herbal preparations, it is further aggravated that not only the two categories "dietary supplements" and "medicines" are very different, but that they are within themselves

These two groups differentiate the individual preparations very strongly. In order to be sure of your choice, you should always get detailed information about the specific preparation, preferably from a doctor or pharmacist. (kfn)

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