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Herbal-Supplement Sales Slumping

Industry experts say consumer expectations were unrealistic

Are herbal supplements effective? If they are, which kinds are best, and what's the proper dosage? And how will they interact with the other medications you take?

Confused? You're not the only one. Experts say consumers are increasingly concerned about conflicting claims and insufficient information when it comes to herbal remedies. Those concerns, they say, are leading to a slump in sales of herbal products, according to an article in USA TODAY.

The article, based on a report from the Nutrition Business Journal, says the double-digit growth in herbal supplement sales has stalled because customers are having trouble determining which ones are effective. Sales growth was 17 percent in 1997, 12 percent in 1998, and only 1 percent in 2000. Sales figures were based on records from supermarkets, drug stores, heath-food stores, mail order outlets, club stores and other sources.

Industry experts say part of the problem is that consumers expected too much, that they hoped for immediate results and stopped taking the products when nothing happened after a few days. And, they say, customers thought the herbs would cure conditions like depression and illnesses like the common cold.

The experts note, for example, that sales of St. John's wort have suffered because of recent publicity that it's not effective in treating moderate-to-severe depression. But it's only supposed to be used to treat mild-to-moderate depression, they add.

To find out more about the recent reports about St. John's wort, read this article from CNN. To learn more about St. John's wort and Kava, which is said to combat anxiety, you can read this article from Nutrition Action Newsletter.

Consumer News