Who decided to classify herbs as dietary supplements?

In 1994, Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which defined herbs as dietary supplements so long as they meet certain requirements (such as being intended to supplement the diet). The law treats dietary supplements more like foods than drugs. For instance, a manufacturer has to prove that a drug is safe and effective before marketing it, but does not have to provide that kind of evidence for a dietary supplement. 
The Dietary Supplement Heath and Education Act of 1994 classified herbs as dietary supplements.

The act, in essence, ties the Federal Drug Administration's regulatory hands. Producers of both pharmaceutical and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs cannot market their products until they have proved they are effective and safe.

It typically takes about 8.5 years of testing -- which happens first in labs and then in clinical trials at universities -- before drug producers file an appeal for FDA approval. Then, the FDA reviews the claims and either approves or disapproves the drug. The can be classified as OTC or prescription drug. If the FDA does not approve the drug it cannot be sold in the United States. Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all of the compounds that are first tested in labs eventually receives FDA approval.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.