Unlike pharmaceutical products which usually contain a single active entity, herbal products contain a complex mixture of ingredients, many of which have not even been identified. Some of these ingredients may work synergistically to enhance the pharmacological effect, while others may antagonise the toxic effects of some of the ingredients.
Often, the biologically active ingredients have not been ascertained yet except for well-documented herbs such as Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng, Milk thistle, Echinacea purpurea and Hawthorn. Due to the high cost and difficulty in identifying the exact amount and type of active ingredients, no specification for active ingredients are set by the Drug Control Authority in Malaysia. As a result, some health supplement manufacturers and marketeers have taken advantage of this loophole to manufacture products containing only a minute amount of the active ingredients which will not be able to produce the desired effect or result.