The popularity of herbal products, especially plant food supplements (PFS) and herbal medicine is on the rise in Europe and other parts of the world, with increased use in the general population as well as among specific subgroups encompassing children, women or those suffering from diseases such as cancer. The aim of this paper is to examine the PFS market structures in European Community (EC) Member States as well as to examine issues addressing methodologies and consumption data relating to PFS use in Europe. A revision of recent reports on market data, trends and main distribution channels, in addition an example of the consumption of PFS in Spain, is presented. An overview of the methods and administration techniques used to assess individual food consumption as a starting point, including their uses and limitations, as well as some examples of studies that collect Food Supplement (FS) information, including herbal/botanical/plant-derived products are also discussed. Additionally, the intake estimation process of food nutrients is described and used to propose the PFS ingredients intake estimation process. Nationally representative PFS consumption data is scarce in Europe. The majority of studies have been conducted in Scandinavia and the UK. However the heterogeneity of definitions, study design and objectives make it difficult to compare results and extrapolate conclusions.
- alternative medicine
- common cold