A dietary supplement is intended to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities.
Supplements as generally understood include vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, among other substances. U.S. authorities define dietary supplements as foods, while elsewhere they may be classified as drugs or other products.
Alkaloids are a group of naturally occurring chemical compounds, that contain mostly basic nitrogen atoms. This group also includes some related compounds with neutral and even weakly acidic properties. Some synthetic compounds of similar structure are also attributed to alkaloids. In addition to carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen, alkaloids may also contain oxygen, sulfur and more rarely other elements such as chlorine, bromine, and phosphorus.
Alkaloids are produced by a large variety of organisms, including bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals, and are part of the group of natural products (also called secondary metabolites). Many alkaloids can be purified from crude extracts by acid-base extraction. Many alkaloids are toxic to other organisms. They often have pharmacological effects and are used as medications, as recreational drugs, or in entheogenic rituals. Examples are the local anesthetic and stimulant cocaine; the psychedelic psilocin; the stimulant caffeine; nicotine; the analgesic morphine; the antibacterial berberine; the anticancer compound vincristine; the antihypertension agent reserpine; the cholinomimeric galantamine; the spasmolysis agent atropine; the vasodilator vincamine; the anti-arhythmia compound quinidine; the anti-asthma therapeutic ephedrine; and the antimalarial drug quinine. Although alkaloids act on a diversity of metabolic systems in humans and other animals, they almost uniformly invoke a bitter taste.
Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are medicines sold directly to a consumer without a prescription from a healthcare professional, as compared to prescription drugs, which may be sold only to consumers possessing a valid prescription. In many countries, OTC drugs are selected by a regulatory agency to ensure that they are ingredients that are safe and effective when used without a physician's care. OTC drugs are usually regulated by active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), not final products. By regulating APIs instead of specific drug formulations, governments allow manufacturers freedom to formulate ingredients, or combinations of ingredients, into proprietary mixtures.
The term over-the-counter may be somewhat counterintuitive, since, in many countries, these drugs are often located on the shelves of stores like any other packaged product. In contrast, prescription drugs are almost always passed over a counter from the pharmacist to the customer. Some drugs may be legally classified as over-the-counter (i.e., no prescription is required), but may only be dispensed by a pharmacist after an assessment of the patient's needs and/or the provision of patient education. In many countries, a number of OTC drugs are available in establishments without a pharmacy, such as general stores, supermarkets, gas stations, etc. Regulations detailing the establishments where drugs may be sold, who is authorized to dispense them, and whether a prescription is required vary considerably from country to country.
Ephedra usually refers to the plant Ephedra sinica. E. sinica, known in Chinese as ma huang (麻黃; pinyin: má huáng), has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for 5,000 years.]unreliable source?[ Several additional species belonging to the genus Ephedra have traditionally been used for a variety of medicinal purposes, and are a possible candidate for the Soma plant of Indo-Iranian religion. Native Americans and Mormon pioneers drank a tea brewed from other Ephedra species, called Mormon Tea or Indian Tea.
In recent years, the safety of ephedra-containing dietary supplements has been questioned by the medical community as a result of reports of serious side effects and ephedra-related deaths. In response to accumulating evidence of adverse effects and deaths related to ephedra, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of ephedra-containing supplements on April 12, 2004. A lawsuit challenging the FDA ban was upheld by a Federal District Court judge in Utah on April 14, 2005. The FDA appealed this ruling, and on August 17, 2006 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the FDA's ban of ephedra. The sale of ephedra-containing dietary supplements is currently illegal in the United States because of the high risk of ephedra-related adverse events.
Alternative medicine is any practice that is put forward as having the healing effects of medicine but is not based on evidence gathered using the scientific method. It consists of a wide range of health care practices, products and therapies, using alternative medical diagnoses and treatments which typically have not been included in the degree courses of established medical schools or used in conventional medicine. Examples of alternative medicine include homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and acupuncture.
Complementary medicine is alternative medicine used together with conventional medical treatment in a belief, not proven by using scientific methods, that it "complements" the treatment. CAM is the abbreviation for Complementary and alternative medicine. Integrative medicine (or integrative health) is the combination of the practices and methods of alternative medicine with conventional medicine.