Dietary Supplements - The Wild West of Good, Bad, and a Whole Lotta Ugly

Med Clin North Am. 2022 Sep;106(5):881-898. doi: 10.1016/j.mcna.2022.03.004.


The popularity of and market for natural medicines (herbal remedies, dietary supplements, and vitamins) is accelerating. At the same time, evidence for their effectiveness (both in general and for specific conditions) and safety remains poor in many instances. Independent evaluations have identified products that are poorly manufactured, contaminated, or mislabeled. We examine data on cannabidiol (CBD) to exemplify these problems. Yet consumers often are unaware of these concerns and problems and continue to believe that "natural" means "safe." The current US regulatory framework founded in the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) does not adequately protect the health of US consumers and urgently needs to be revised. At the same time, clinicians should update themselves regularly with the best available evidence on the natural medications most relevant to their areas of practice. We recommend some evidence-based resources that will help clinicians and their patients remain current in this area.

Keywords: Advertising; CBD; Cannabidiol; Dietary supplements; Effectiveness; Evidence; Herbal remedies; Herbs vitamins; Natural medicines; Quality; Safety; Vitamin C.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cannabidiol*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Health Education
  • Humans
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Vitamins
  • Cannabidiol