The use of herbal medicines as supplements or alternative treatments are increasingly popular today. These medicines are considered to be without side effects. Whereas, herbal medicines are not always safe. Some herbal producers mix their products with additional chemicals. But, they claim that their products all are natural.
According to Professor Sumali Wiryowidagdo, many herbal medicines that were not proven scientifically because they were not tested yet. These herbal were usually passed through generations.
“Generally jamu is one of the group. Its benefits are believed according to [empirical] experiences,” he said to Kompas.com at Modern Herbal Extraction Technology that was held by PT Deltomed Laboratories in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday (16/6/2011).
There were several groups of herbal medicines. The first group was standardized herbal medicines, which were jamu medicines that had been tested to animals for their safety or toxicity.
The second group that was higher was phytopharmaca. Jamu medicines that belonged to the group had been tested to human and had been through standardized for their ingredients. They had been met with quality requirements.
“Phytopharmaca has the same status with modern medicines,” the herbalist at Study Center of Natural Medicines, Pharmacy Department, University of Indonesia.
So, how can we choose herbal medicines, whether it’s jamu or other medicines, that are safe and effective? Sumali suggested that we should choose herbal medicines that were registered with the FDA.
“At least the products have FDA’s registration numbers, including imported medicines,” he said.
Besides that, patients should consult it with their doctors before they consume any herbal medicines. Especially if they have been consuming modern medicines. Certain herbal medicines cannot be mixed with modern medicine because they will cause dangerous chemical reactions.
Professor Leonardus BS Kardoyo, a natural ingredient extractions expert from Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (Indonesian Institute of Sciences) said that herbal medicines that were industrially processed had sophisticated and standardized extraction systems.
“Extraction is done by removing impurity from certain substances with the aim of purifying the compounds. So, the results will be optimal for bodies,” he said.
Whereas, extraction that was done traditionally could not be measured exactly. To avoid toxicity, people were suggested to extract herbal medicines according to empirical experiences.
“If you want to boil herbal medicines, you should follow previous experiences to choose the right dosages. If you try to change the dosages it can be dangerous,” he explained.