Herbal Supplements: Considerations for the Athletic Trainer

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Journal of Athletic Training


Objective: To examine common herbal supplements, explore potential risks associated with herbal use, and provide recommendations to the athletic trainer regarding patient care issues. Data Sources: We searched MEDLINE, SPORT Discus, CINAHL, and Academic Search Elite databases 1990-2000 using the key words herbals, regulation, supplements, toxicity, and adulteration. Data Synthesis: The use of herbal products continues to grow. While the origins of some medications and herbal supplements are similar, clinical testing and understanding of most herbal remedies is lacking. Some herbal products may prove useful in an athletic setting; however, current United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations do not ensure safe and effective products. A descriptive review focusing on specific considerations for the athletic trainer is provided. Conclusions/Recommendations: Despite their increasing tendency to seek natural therapies, athletes need to be aware that "natural" does not equal "safe." Athletes are entitled to know that most herbs are not proven safe or effective under current FDA standards. The athletic trainer must be able to provide honest, unbiased information when educating athletes regarding herbal supplements.

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