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Herbal Foods: Are They Efficacious and Safe?

Silvers, Karen M. PhD; Taptiklis, Emmeline L. R. MSc


In recent years, a new market has developed for food products designed to reduce the risk or effect of disease on consumers. Some of these so-called functional foods contain plant-derived bioactives, yet there is a lack of knowledge about their use, efficacy, and safety in foods. Some of these plant-derived substances are not normally consumed in the diet as concentrated extracts, and others have only previously been used as herbal medicines. The implications of the food-as-medicine concept when using plant-derived bioactives are discussed.

Some of the new foods containing herbals may promise more than they deliver

Karen M. Silvers, PhD, is a human nutrition scientist with a background in clinical research, antioxidants, and health. Her current interests are related to maintenance and promotion of brain function, mental health, and well-being. She takes a multidisciplinary approach and has strong links with biochemists, psychologists, and other health researchers both in New Zealand and internationally.

Corresponding author: Karen M. Silvers, PhD, Crop & Food Research, Private Bag 11600, Palmerston North, New Zealand (e-mail:

Emmeline L. R. Taptiklis, MSc, is a nutritionist at, Crop & Food Research, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.