Herbs and Alternative Supplements - Heart Help or Hype? Introduction Do you occasionally drink herbal tea?  Ever buy a jar of minced garlic at the grocery store? Sometimes add spices or herbs to foods you cook?  Then you too are among the 33% of Americans who use herbal products.  As you can see, surveys and studies that define use of herbal products use vague criteria.  Herbal products can be effective for a variety of conditions if used in the proper context.  For many herbal remedies it takes daily - often multiple daily - doses over the course of many weeks to gain the desired effect.  Herbs, for the most part, aren't a quick or easy therapy.  Here are some interesting statistics: • Herbals are the primary source of healthcare treat- ment for 80% of the world's population - World Health Organization. • One in three Americans, or about 60 million people, spends an average of $54 on herbals a year, totaling $3.24 billion - Prevention Magazine survey • Almost 70% of German doctors prescribe herbal sup- plements for their patients - Reuters News Service Such impressive statistics may leave those who haven't tried herbal therapies won- dering - what am I missing? Statistics can be misleading, so let's probe a little deeper into this topic. It's true that a large percent of the world's people rely on herbal or botanical remedies. Most don't have any other choice.  Basic healthcare and pharmaceutical drugs are simply not available in many sections of the world. If you're poor and can't afford medication, you do what you can including using local roots, herbs and potions. If 70% of German doctors prescribe herbal products, that leaves 30% who don't prescribe them.  We're given no information on how fre- quently this 70% recommend herbs over pharmaceuticals - once a year, once a day, with every patient?  In 1995, herbal prescriptions account- ed for just 7% of all prescrip- tion medications covered by Introduction Herb Appeal Nightmare on Herb Street Buying Better Botanicals Common Myths About Herbs Quality Products Safety Classifications Supplement Savvy The Claim Game Supplement Profiteers Protecting Your Investment Alternative to What? Expert Evaluation
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