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U.S. Spending Millions to See if Herbs Truly Work
Date:12/16/2010

anical research efforts that received recent federal funding include:

  • Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., to investigate how supplements such as artemisia and St. John's wort can reduce a person's chances of developing metabolic syndrome.
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, to examine how the body processes herbal supplements.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to investigate the safety and efficacy of such botanical estrogens as wild yam, soy and dong quai, and particularly their potential to contribute to cancer in women.
  • University of Missouri, Columbia, to look at the molecular pathways used by supplements such as garlic and elderberry to affect human health.
  • Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C., to study the potential of botanical oils to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Despite the concerns of the medical community, researchers believe there are a lot of valid health benefits that can be derived from botanical supplements. These benefits just need to be proven in the lab.

"We wouldn't be supporting a multi-million dollar program if we didn't feel there was potential," Klein said.

More information

The Office of Dietary Supplements at the U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about herbs and botanical supplements.

SOURCES: Marguerite Klein, M.S., director, Botanical Research Centers Program, U.S. National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.; William Obermeyer, Ph.D., vice president, research, ConsumerLab.com, White Plains, N.Y.; Summer 2010, HerbalGram, American Botanical Council, Austin, Texas


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