activity page will offer:
Insight into the marketing of herbal remedies
opportunity to survey herbal remedies
analysis of various over-the-counter herbal remedies
NOTE: The following activity
is a consumer survey in which students gather data at a local
market. Students should visit the market and the appropriate
aisle with their parent or guardian.
to a local supermarket that has a dietary supplement/herbal
and pencil to record label information
- Work with a parent or guardian. Discuss the types of
food items sold at large local markets. Identify a market
that has a specialty aisle for dietary supplements/herbal
remedies. Arrange a visit with your parent or guardian to
- While at this market, you will need to spend time taking
a survey. Have the adult accompany you as you gather the
information listed below.
- Visit the aisle containing herbal remedies. Locate a reference
guide(s) to herbal cures and natural healing in this section
of the market. Use this guide to survey the range of herbs
that can be used to treat disorders.
- What are some of the herbal remedies suggested for treating
the flu and its symptoms? (Echinacea, Catnip tea, ginger,
- Locate several different brands of Echinacea. List each
brand below. Record the amount of Echinacea in each tablet
and the recommended daily dose for that brand as identified
on each label.
in each tablet
- Did the different brands of Echinacea suggest a similar
- How do you explain this discrepancy?
- Extracts are often made from different parts of an herb.
How might this affect consistency and standardization of
On most bottles of dietary supplements/herbal remedies you'll
find the following disclaimer: "This product is not intended
to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease." What does
this statement mean to you? Why do you think it is placed
on the container? What does this tell you about whether or
not a supplement has been shown to have repeatable and reliable
On Your Own
you looked at varying suggested doses of Echinacea, other
herbal remedies have similar inconsistencies. Examine the
labels of several other remedies and compare and contrast
the differences in dosage. Which remedies have the greatest
Often exotic or scientific-sounding names are used to help
market these products. An exotic name might have an air of
mystery or carry the suggestion that the product has proven
medicinal value in a foreign land. Scientific names can also
appear to give a product more credibility. For example, as
you saw in the program, the name for the product PC-SPES,
though it sounds "scientific," simply stands for "Prostate
Cancer - Hope" ("spes" means "hope" in Latin). While in the
supermarket, identify and record five different dietary supplements/herbal
remedies that bear names you believe fall into the categories
Now, it's your turn to try some creative marketing. Suppose
you were in charge of marketing an herbal remedy that you
intended to be used to ward off sunburn or prevent blisters.
What would you call it? How might the name you select boost
sales? Remember that there have been no tests proving this
product's effectiveness or claims.
Suppose you were in charge of developing a safe and effective
way of regulating dietary supplements/herbal remedies in the
United States. What would you do? How might you test the herb
for both effectiveness and safety? How would you insure uniform
doses in drug capsules? Should herbal remedies be available
at supermarkets? Why or why not? Should they have the same
restrictions as other medications? Should herbal remedies
require a prescription? Why or why not?
of Dietary Supplements
Learn more about dietary supplements on this FDA site.
Remedies Internet Reference Guide
An online guide to herbal remedies maintained by the Natural
Health and Longevity Resource Center.
Green: Seeing the Side Effects
An introduction to control group study, double-blind and random
Check out this FRONTIERS Web feature about Echinacea and dietary
activities in this guide were contributed by Michael DiSpezio,
a Massachusetts-based science writer and author of "Critical
Thinking Puzzles" and "Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound"
(Sterling Publishing Co., NY).
Academic Advisors for this Guide:
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Suzanne Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School,