A new article could ring alarm bells for those who regularly consume herbal dietary supplements.
C and EN Senior Editor Celia Henry Arnaud cautioned that little is known of the actual effectiveness or potential ill effects of these products.
Consumers could be putting their health at risk by using products like black cohosh and red clover, used by menopausal women to reduce hot flashes, and kava, which is used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Scientists are concerned that some supplements may contain high levels of toxic metals, such as lead and mercury, or pesticides.
In some cases, the plant itself might be toxic, or a supplement could cause harm by reacting with conventional drugs.
Ongoing researches are aimed at finding the long-term safety of these products for consumers, the article indicates.
The article is published in the current issue of Chemical and Engineering News (C AND EN).