Students try herbal energy pills

Josh Echt

Brooke Rucidlo, sophomore musical theatre major, said she plays it safe when it comes to buying herbal supplements.

“I don’t take anything I don’t know about,” Rucidlo said. The main items she takes are Vitamin C and fish oil.

Rucidlo and her friend, Jessica Rubin, senior musical theatre major, visit the Kent Natural Foods Co-Op regularly.

Rubin said she buys Emergen-C vitamin supplements and raspberry leaves for her health.

Natural Foods Co-manager Fred Pierre said the store carries 200 individual herbs, which come in three forms: tinctures, capsules and tablets.

Tinctures, which are liquid-based supplements, and capsules are the most popular forms people buy, Pierre said. A

typical supplement the store carries is echinacea, which strengthens the immune system.

All supplements are regulated as to their health claims. The Food and Drug Administration approves what can be shown on their labels, Pierre said.

A European classification, called Commission E, calls for a certain amount of an ingredient in order for it to be effective in each supplement. Some herbal bottles are marked ‘standardized,’ Pierre said.

“If a product is standardized, the manufacturer has put a certain amount considered to be effective in each supplement,” Pierre said.

He urged students to research the effects of herbs and herbal supplements.

“If you’re just buying supplements off the shelf, you might not know what you’re getting,” Pierre said.

However, a balanced diet is a safer and more reliable choice than herbal supplements, said Juanita Weaver, Nutrition Outreach Program coordinator.

“Get nutrients from a balanced diet – there’s not a lot of research supplementing herbs,” Weaver said.

Most of the time students take them to get an energy boost, Weaver said.

The Nutrition Outreach program can analyze a specific supplement that a student may have a question about.

“We can do research to discover if any of them have adverse effects before students take them,” she said.

Contact general assignment reporter Josh Echt at [email protected]