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On the Market
Dietary supplements may be sold without detailed scientific evidence of their safety and effectiveness. Therefore, short- and long-term risks and benefits have not always been assessed for supplements designed specifically for children. Here are some common supplements.
  Uses Safety Effectiveness
St. John's wort
To treat depression and associated symptoms, including fatigue, appetite loss, insomnia, anxiety and nervous unrest. Probably safe when used for short-term medicinal purposes. Can cause insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness, headache and mania in depressed patients. Probably effective in treating mild to moderate depression, and possibly effective when used for physical symptoms associated with mild depression or to treat anxiety.
Creatine To increase exercise performance and muscle mass in athletes and older adults. Also used to treat heart failure. Possibly safe when used appropriately, but there is insufficient data on safety of long-term use. Can cause nausea and diarrhea. Athletes report muscle cramping. Possibly effective when used to enhance muscle performance during brief, high-intensity exercise. Likely ineffective when used for increasing endurance.
Echinacea For treating or preventing colds and other upper respiratory infections. Also as an antiseptic, antiviral and immune stimulant, dilator of blood vessels and treatment for urinary infections. Likely safe when daily use is limited. There is concern that long-term use might depress immunity. Can cause allergic reactions, including acute asthma and hives. Possibly effective as therapy for influenza-like infections, or for shortening the duration of colds and as supportive treatment for respiratory infections.
DMAE, or
Dimethylaminoethanol
For treating attention deficit disorder, enhancing memory and mood, boosting cognitive function, increasing physical energy and improving athletic performance. Possibly safe when used appropriately. Can cause constipation, hives, headache, drowsiness, insomnia, confusion, depression, elevated blood pressure and mania. Possibly effective in combination with other supplements in improving exercise performance. Clinical studies of use in treating attention deficit disorder have been inconclusive.
Gingko Biloba To treat cerebral conditions and to increase alertness. Also used to improve cognitive function and sleep in depressed patients. Likely safe when used appropriately, unsafe when used intravenously. May cause gastrointenstinal pains. Large doses may cause restlessness, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Possibly effective when used to stabilize or improve cognitive function in patients with cerebral conditions, or when used to treat dizziness and headache.
Ephedra
also known
as ma huang
For asthma, bronchitis, allergic disorders, and as a stimulant and appetite suppressant. Used for weight loss in combination with other herbal products. Possibly safe when used short-term. Likely unsafe in high doses or long-term. Can cause dependence. Adverse reactions include anxiety, insomnia, high blood pressure and heart failure. Effective in short-term treatment of diseases of the respiratory tract. Likely ineffective when taken as a single agent for weight loss. Insufficient reliable information about other uses.
Valerian As a sedative and for mood disorders such as depression, infantile convulsions, epilepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Possibly unsafe when used long-term or in high doses. Can cause headache, excitability, uneasiness, cardiac disturbances and insomnia and occasionally morning drowsiness. Possibly effective when used for improving sleep quality and for improving mood and concentration.
Melissa
(lemon balm)
As a digestive, mild tranquilizer and for stimulating appetite. Traditionally used to promote sweating, and to treat nervous problems, insomnia, cramps, headache and toothache. Possibly safe when used on a short-term basis – no more than 14 days. Hypersensitivity reactions have been reported. Possibly effective when used for nervous sleeping disorders and gastrointestinal pains or for topical treatment of cold sores.
Source: National Medicines Comprehensive Database

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