The Herbal Mystique

Manila Bulletin, July 23, 2010 | Go to article overview
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The Herbal Mystique

Today, there is a growing use of herbal products - herbal foods, herbal cosmetics and herbal medicines. For one reason or another, there is now a noticeable shift from the traditional and conventional products especially those made of chemical substances to the herbal or natural products. In short, there is a booming market for herbal products.

The tremendous sales growth of herbal products especially the booming vitamin and nutritional supplement category is phenomenal. Especially that sector of society that is endlessly looking for that "manna from heaven" that supposedly will stop or delay the aging process. No wonder the recent upsurge in the so-called "cosmeceuticals" is the talk of the town. Cosmeceuticals are products that combine cosmetics with vitamins, herbals and sometimes pharmaceuticals. An example is a skin care lotion that combines vitamin E and aloe vera. Or a lipstick that contains both sun block and sulphur neutralizer to control bad breath. Vanity certainly plays a major role in the unstoppable demand for herbal products - and not just cost consideration.

Let me share more information about herbal products:

* Herbal remedies are considered dietary supplements and not drugs, or food. The herbal remedies are therefore not subjected to regulatory scrutiny as drugs and foods before they are marketed - provided that there is no medicinal claim on the label;

* Herbal dietary supplements (capsules and tablets) constitute the biggest growing sector of herbal products in the US;

* Sales of herbal products in the European countries (including but not limited to herbal teas, dietary supplements, cosmetics, culinary herbs, and over-the-counter medicine) are ten times that of the United States;

* A report of the World Health Organization (WHO) says that about 4 billion people (80 percent of the world population) use herbal medicine;

* Do you know that China leads in the production of raw materials for herbal medicine;

* By year 2050, the volume of trading in herbal products is expected to reach US$3 trillion;

* Based on NSO statistical figures, our herbal product exports reached US$44 million in Year 2000 with herbal cosmetics taking the lead;

* The competitive strength of herbal products likes in the belief of consumers (rightly or wrongly) that herbal remedies derived from plant/natural sources are effective and risk-free;

* Our country abounds with plants that can be used in preparing herbal products.

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