Herbal Medicines Pose Health Risk to Millions in Asia

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A commonly used herbal remedy that is banned in the U.S. and many European countries may still be harming users in Asia.

Since researchers connected an epidemic of kidney disease among Belgium women in the early 1990s to herbal medicines from a weight loss clinic, scientists have monitored the remedy for other potential health risks.

During the initial outbreak, scientists traced the kidney problems to aristolochic acid (AA), which belongs to a group of plants known as birthwort or Dutchman’s pipe. The agent is used for weight loss and to treat asthma and arthritis. But since the epidemic, herbs with aristolochic acid have been banned for medicinal uses in many countries, including the U.S. Researchers at King’s College London, however, now report in the Annals of Internal Medicine that millions of people are still being exposed, especially in Asia.

The scientists, led by Graham Lord, the director of the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, found that herbal medicines containing the acid are still found in China and other Asian countries and can be purchased online. “The reason we wrote this paper is to provide a diagnostic classification for aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN) [the type of kidney failure associated with the agent]. For countries that haven’t asked the question of whether this is present, here is diagnostic criteria. We just don’t know what the levels of exposure are throughout the world,” he says.

(MORE: Pediatricians Need to Be More Aware of Alternative Medicine Use Among Children)

After reviewing 42 case studies and one trial related to caring for the disease, Lord and his colleagues came up with guidelines to help doctors to recognize cases of AAN, as well as treat the disease’s symptoms. They concluded that aristolochic acid could be linked to a variety of kidney diseases and urothelial cancer. More research, however, is needed to improve understanding of the risks of aristolochic acid.  They write:

We see an urgent need for research addressing many key areas, including determining the true worldwide extent of exposure; defining genetic variants that might confer increased sensitivity or resistance to the nephrotoxic effects of AA; testing the accuracy and utility of diagnostic criteria and optimum screening strategies, including the use of noninvasive biomarkers; and developing therapeutic agents that can reverse or delay progression of the disease.

An international herbal reference center equipped to assess the composition and risks of products available to consumers would provide substantial public health benefit.

(MOREStudy: Some Benefits of Probiotics for Kids)

And given the wide availability of aristolochic acid, on the internet and in Asia, the authors say holes in regulation of herbal remedies need to be addressed. “The globalization of the distribution of these substances makes it very difficult to control,” says Lord.

Lord urges everyone using herbal medicine to be cautious. Active agents in familiar treatments can change over time, or new information on the risks and benefits of specific ingredients may also become available. Checking the ingredients is an important and often overlooked step. “Generally, a lot of people don’t ask. There are a lot of ingredients in [the remedies] that can change over time because they are complex. You need to check each time. It never hurts to check.” And, when in doubt, ask a physician about whether an herbal remedy is safe to take.

51 comments
charles66
charles66

Hi Alexandra Sifferlin, Greetings from Fr. Alphonse Charles! I read your article on herbal medicines' health risks. I am glad that you have initiated further discussion on this topic. Being a trained counselling psychologist and a Capuchin Priest hailing from India I have the following obervations for your further research. -Herbal and natural medicines are good alternatives in the field of medicine. I am recommeding some these medicines with the Ayurvedic and other naturopathy experts help. They infact help people, specially people with psychosis are helped. Some of the alternative therapies out of these schools help people a lot in relieving the pain and reduce depression. We recommend them a lot for the poor people who cannot afford other treatments. -These natural medicines seem to have also some side effect but comparatively less. It is to be taken with the proper guidance of a good physician who is well informed. He\she has to periodically examine the physiology of the patient and come out with feedbacks. -I work with some of the Naturopahty and Ayurvedic experts from India, Always getting their insights. I take those insights to the medical practioners and ask them to do the diagnosis before and after the treatment. I also conduct a course on 'Mood Designing' with a specific reference on Mental Health at our Institute in India (www.anugraha.info). (this course's inspiration from Dr. Liz Millers (from Edinberg) reflections on Modd Mapping) And there I recommend more natural way of living, physical exercises and other preventive natural care methods for well-being. I Always tell them to have a GP to accompany scientifically but not all are not able to afford that especially the poor. And so for such people I carefully recommend some of the good medical practioners. Presently I am in Rome and if you are interested I would share more about my experiences and introduce some of our good naturopathy experts. I know you have a long way to go but I wish you all the best in your research. God bless you Fr. Alphonse Charles Ofm Cap.,

charlesalph@gmail.com

lilylongflower
lilylongflower

so much misinformation and misunderstanding. 

herbs ARE traditional medicines that are way safer than pharmaceuticals (which by the way became popular in the 1930's).  i  have used herbs for years then trained for many more to become a certified herbalist and nutritionist....i have more schooling than an MD.    the clients i see in my clinic have been to several doctors, are on many meds and are still getting sicker instead of better.


yes there are poisonous plants out there, common sense is required folks,  and hello rapier1, herbal products ARE regulated for consistency and good manufacturing processes.  good to know what you are talking about before letting it fly in a public forum.

visit the national poison control site and see that nsaids and rx drugs kill tens of thousands every single year.  herbs have killed 1 in the past 5 years....and that woman purposely drank a good amount of a concentrated essential oil that is never ever used internally.   herbs are super safe.


harumph


rapier1
rapier1 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I love it when people say herbal medications are just fine and don't need to be regulated. What they overlook is that tobacco - proven to be a cancer causing killer was once an herbal medication. Many other plants can also prove to cause injury or death - and that includes a number of plants used in herbal medicine. Oleander, rhubarb, castor, jasmine and so forth , when used as an herbal remedy, all depend on the preparer being honest (so as to not adulterate the product) and careful (so as to avoid contamination and maintain sub-lethal concentrations). I would never argue that medicine hasn't benefited greatly from herbals and plants - aspirin, digitalis, penicillin, quinine, and more all find their roots in herbal/folk remedies. However, having a standardized method of preparation with highly regulated quality controls is a huge win for the public. If herbals could maintain the same level of consistency and proof of efficacy that would really be helpful.

RandyLeJeune
RandyLeJeune like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

You want people to stop taking risks with herbal medicines? That's easy . . . make traditional medicines and doctors affordable so average people can afford them.

DavidChirantanSerlin
DavidChirantanSerlin like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

For all of you that say that some herbal remedy cured you of disease X, as the folks down under would say. "Good on You!"  I would never question that you got better.  What we don't know and you don't know is whether it was some compound in the herb extract, or if it was your own brain fixing the problem.  I worked in Food and drug research most of my career. I ran a study once in 500 people who complained of "frequent" colds and were recruited by doctors in various clinics. They were given either vitamin C tablets or milk sugar tablets in numbered bottles labeled "Experimental Cold Prevention Medication." The group as a whole -based on their self reporting of previous winters, were expected to have between four and five colds a winter. After two winters the study was stopped and the case report forms decoded. The vitamin C group had a cold frequency of 0.97 meaning many patients had no colds at all for two years. The dummy "placebo" tablets had a cold frequency of 0.95, meaning that there was no difference between vitamin C and an inactive tablet. Both were spectacularly successful. Convince your brain that what you are taking is good for you and in nearly all cases you *will* get better. Convince your brain that what you are taking will not help, and you will probably not do well.   The human mind can cure any disease that it wants to. The trick is convincing it to do that. The "placebo effect" accounts for anywhere from 65 to 90% of the efficacy of many drugs. So getting 3/4 of the curative effect of a pharmaceutical medicine with an inexpensive herb (providing it is really safe) is not a bad thing.

roknsteve
roknsteve

@DavidChirantanSerlin People have been cured of diseases for thousands of years with herbs.  Big Pharma has been poisoning and killing people with "drugs" for less than a hundred years.  Your drugs treat diseases and herbs cure diseases.  Put that in your "placebo" and smoke it.

DavidChirantanSerlin
DavidChirantanSerlin like.author.displayName 1 Like

@roknsteve @DavidChirantanSerlin  No need for me to smoke anything. You apparently have taken care of that yourself already since are clearly too confused or befuddled to understand what I said. Saying that herbs *cure* diseases but drugs only *treat* is a meaningless and nonsensical statement since they are both part of the process.  How do you cure a disease if you don't treat it?  As I said at the beginning of my post, (which you clearly did not read or understand)  you say herbs cured your whatever, then I say "Good on you mate. " Take all the herbs you want. Please.  Just please take off the tinfoil hat and ignore the black helicopters when you are "better".

loridenise7
loridenise7 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

They want to control everything! I get so sick and tired of people wanting to tell others what to do. My life, My body. If we all go around scared of what might happen every time we turn around then we have not even lived. Should we put on a life vest just in case a sudden flood comes?! Live your life! Life is about living, learning, growing. 

deanobambino64
deanobambino64 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@loridenise7 

Our generation has been dumbed-down to the point that anyone questioning "big brother" institutions like pharma and medicine is immediately disc ounted as a kook. Sad to think that our civilization has evolved due to freedom of thought and choice. This topic is but another example if this systemic brainwashing that has turned freedom of choice into an evil thing....of course to the benefit of big pharma.

DavidMaret
DavidMaret like.author.displayName 1 Like

I have used herbal medicine for years and it has healled me of all kinds of health issues inculding cancer. Do not let the medical BS drive you away from what is good for you. If it was not good for you then mother earth would not of grown it. Yes some folk will have reactions, but look at the meds of today, the side effets are worse then the issue.

profpatient
profpatient

@DavidMaret  Me too David.  They cure bladder infections without drugs.  80% of the world's population uses herbal medicine because it works!  That also is why there are such things called Naturopathic Physicians whom people go to when they are allergic to pharmaceuticals.

rxlawdude
rxlawdude like.author.displayName 1 Like

@DavidMaret While your anecdote is heartwarming, there are just as many anecdotes where people have spontaneously cured diseases WITHOUT herbals and WITHOUT pharmaceuticals.  And don't forget how many people are cured by faith healers!  

Listen, I'm not dissing all nutraceuticals, just those from marketers who make health claims in violation of the law.  I'll submit that the statistics for deaths of persons that shun traditional medicine and use herbals aren't available, so there's no way to definitively know if people are dying because of, or in spite of, herbal remedies.

I do, however, know of multiple deaths from ephedra supplements in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

deanobambino64
deanobambino64 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@rxlawdude @DavidMaret 

Anyone that would blindly eat a substance without researching it is irresponsible. Freedom to have natural remedies fully available is, however, a good thing. Free people should have freedom to choose, despite the propaganda that the nanny state and its proponents suggest.

stewymichelle
stewymichelle like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Funny how herbal remedies are constantly attacked by the mainstream media, yet they never have a thing to say about all the health risks posed by drugs prescribed everyday. Drug companies are behind this research no doubt.

rxlawdude
rxlawdude

@stewymichelle There's LOTS of news about health risks posed by drugs.  And when you watch commercials for drugs, do they not state adverse effects?

Please point me to ONE purveyor of herbals who, in all advertising materials, includes potential adverse effects of their products?  They don't have to, by law, and by gum, they don't.  Pray tell how withholding this information from the public is good policy?

deanobambino64
deanobambino64 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@rxlawdude @stewymichelle 

Adverse affects connected to natural remedies are easily gotten by anyone who cares to do the research. The same cannot be said of pharma poisons.

BJSquirrel
BJSquirrel like.author.displayName 1 Like

@deanobambino64 @rxlawdude @stewymichelle I think the one point some are missing here is this substance or herbal is used in diet pills of which is unnatural in-of-itself.... we humans always want a quick fix for everything and that includes a quick fix for our bad eating and exercise habits. Most stimulants, whether they are herbal or not have negative effects on the human body and when these natural stimulants combined with other herbs can be deadly. And then there are the people that think if one ounce or one pill is good then two or three will be better, even though the recommended dosage is one pill per time period. And yes, almost every article we read now from mainstream media about herbals is how they can be "bad" and need to be regulated at all cost.... And then there is that "other war" on herbals that includes Roundup for our lawns and gardens to kill the bad weeds.... well, some of those bad weeds are good medicine, like the lowly dandelion, plantain, and chickweed and numerous others that used to grow wild and free.... almost every community on the planet had a person or persons that knew the plants, knew when to harvest, how to prepare, and how to administer, etc. Our so-called modern society has bred greedy and ego filled people who want to control everything and aren't able or willing to go a natural route for sickness or injury. There are many facets to natural healing and some even include advice to stop doing whatever is making us sick. And when a reputable and responsible herbalist or naturopathic healer provides these herbs, they also give them instructions that include how to take, when to take, what not to eat before or after, etc. As far as this article, this is another journalist that picked up a press release about a study and then decided to write an article that is obviously slanted against and supports government regulation that has been around since the dawn of time - and may I also say that our very existence is testament to the efficacy of plant medicine ... oh and common sense too! :-)


deanobambino64
deanobambino64

@rxlawdude @deanobambino64 @stewymichelle 

Regulation is a slippery slope that is a common tactic used to gradually erode availability of natural remedies. This is the danger. Making them available to whoever wants to access them and allowing them to choose is called personal freedom. So, yes.... it is up to the person shopping for the product to do their homework and know what they want and what is safe and which suppliers and products they can use with confidence. The nanny state always uses the concern for us as a method of taking away our right to choose what we want. I will never be in favor of regulation.

rxlawdude
rxlawdude

@deanobambino64 @rxlawdude @stewymichelle 

No point in carrying on a discussion for which you know not of what you speak. Every adverse effect is reported to MedWatch and summarized, all quite publicly. 

But I'll leave you with one question: should someone in a health foods store have to go to the Internet to find the adverse effects or lack of efficacy of the product in front of them?

samk112
samk112 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Alex, don't pay attention to the trolls, it's a good article. Go Northwestern!

Cheers

deanobambino64
deanobambino64 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@samk112 

Anyone who challenges a media bias is a troll? Nice try. Come with some valid arguments next time.

SamK
SamK

@deanobambino64 Challenging an article and being downright rude are two separate entities. There's no reason to completely insult the author. I've been on the other side before, it sucks when someone's over-the-top mean (eg. troll) for work that took time to do. Hope having mutual respect for one another is a valid enough argument. 

deanobambino64
deanobambino64 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Flouride in the water isn't a problem. Radiation from Japan in our food is not a problem. Barium and aluminum being sprayed on our communities from planes is not a problem.....but health supplements and plant based remedies are?  You can fool the sheeple, but you cannot fool us all.

rxlawdude
rxlawdude like.author.displayName 1 Like

@deanobambino64 Typical false equivalencies.  Let the plant based REMEDIES (as you describe them) go through scientific, double blind controlled studies before being unleashed on the public.

Talk about "sheeple," geez.

deanobambino64
deanobambino64

@rxlawdude @deanobambino64 

that's a straw man argument trying to label it a false equivalency. These very obvious and deadly health threats are openly ignored by mainstream media, while a very insignificant threat by comparison is being put forth to try and malign  natural health remedies.  Propaganda is propaganda, despite your obvious attempt to veil it with pseudo-scientific concerns for public safety. Big pharma has a horrific record for releasing dangerous drugs for public use and they are largely unchecked by people like you. Excuse me, your agenda is showing.

rxlawdude
rxlawdude

@deanobambino64 @rxlawdude

There's no desire to make natural remedies UNOBTAINABLE.  There is a desire to ensure that consumers know what they are buying, and ensuring that toxic products do not reach the marketplace.


Your putting it all on the shoulders of consumers works great in an Ayn Rand bubble, but sorry the real world does require balancing responsibilities.

deanobambino64
deanobambino64 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@rxlawdude @deanobambino64 

There is a wealth of  information online for anyone with the ability to use google. Scientific studies have been, and are being done within the natural health field. Anyone that would ingest a product without knowing exactly what is in it is asking for trouble. Your whole argument misses the point. Labeling all natural remedies as dangerous is no different than labeling all pharmaceuticals dangerous. The difference is, that big pharma is actively trying to make natural remedies unobtainable. This kind of scare mongering propaganda is one of the tools they use.

rxlawdude
rxlawdude

@deanobambino64 @rxlawdude  I'm far from a fan of Big Pharma and their pervasive direct-to-consumer advertising.

But you attribute "pseudo science" to my position that herbals should be scientifically required to be proven safe and effective?  So that people KNOW what they are putting into their bodies?  So that false claims about a product can't be made so companies won't fold up, then reopen with the same snake oil under a different corporation? Talk about agenda, my friend: look in the mirror.  

OMdoc
OMdoc like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Alexandra, what kind of journalism do you do exactly?  The kind that informs the public?  Nope.  The kind that scares the public?  There we go.  

1. Out of the 400 or so herbs in the Chinese medical pharmacopia, only about five contain even trace amounts of aristalochic acid.  And, as you might know if you actually did know anything about herbology, you could eat a pound of the stuff before it would even show up on a blood test.  Obviously, in the practice of herbal Chinese medicine, we do not prescribe them as concentrated dangerous compounds.  That's what happens when idiot doctors prescribe medicines which are outside of their scope of practice.  In other words, don't blame the herbs.  Blame the idiot doctors.  Of course, if you concentrate something, it has harmful potential.  Then it's a drug.  Then it should be regulated.  Duh.  

2. Please refine your title statement that "One western allopathic weight loss clinic prescribing an untested compound for an off label side effect" poses health risk.  You are referring to only one compound, contained in a few herbs.  That's not all of "herbal medicine".  That's a light year away from real journalism.  Thanks for the two steps back.  We love having to make our case again and again over the objections of doctors who are afraid of what they might accidentally do with our herbs.  We also love having to explain to our patients how you in the press have your heads up your asses.

Thank you so much for the help in informing the public about our fantastic medicine.  *cough.

Oriental Medicine Practitioner

rxlawdude
rxlawdude like.author.displayName 1 Like

@OMdoc "That's what happens when idiot doctors prescribe medicines which are outside of their scope of practice.  In other words, don't blame the herbs.  Blame the idiot doctors. "

Really?  Where are your safety and effectiveness studies?  Anecdotes are interesting, but not science.  Expecting consistent, reproducible results requires studies aforethought.


OMdoc
OMdoc like.author.displayName 1 Like

@rxlawdude @OMdoc

If you really are in law, then you know that your analysis of my statement (quoted) has little to do with your retort. I stated that MDs are outside of their scope of practice prescribing herbal medicine. They do it poorly. Almost all litigation for injuries from acupuncture are against MDs who don't know what they are doing. Likewise, when you hear about the "dangers of herbal remedies", its a weight loss drug or pharmaceutical derivative administered by someone who was never educated about the side effects.

You make a valid argument that we do not have the reproducible studies. Fine. But since many of our herbs are foods are common edibles, does this mean that the grocery stores must also prove safety in reproducible trial studies?

The herbs can have side effects. Some herbs can injure if you use them wrongly. Thats why we study them for as long as a doctor studies pharmacology. And a lot of the natural flora of the world will do the same. Mushrooms are a good example. That's why they tell you not to eat them if you don't know what you're doing. Duh again.

I will discourage your usage of the term anecdotal, in regards to our system of Chinese herbs. Boy, we've been using these herbs to heal the sick since before Hippocrates. The body hasn't changed that much. You can call that anectdotal if you want, but I call that empirical evidence.

I would love to see trials so we can compare the efficacy and safety. Especially compared to the pitiful record of efficacy and safety of many of the modern "tested" pharmaceuticals. Too bad some doctors think they know better than to study a compound before they prescribe it. And since when did randomized trials get safety down perfect? Wasn't that some time before Vioxx and after thalidomide?

DavidChirantanSerlin
DavidChirantanSerlin like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

It is interesting how uneducated pop culture people think "herbal" and "natural" also  means safe.  "So Dr. Socrates, have a cup of this Hemlock herb Tea. Don't worry sir, it's organic and all natural...."  Or, "Don't worry about those so-called poison arrows the natives are shooting at us, that is just an all-natural organic herb paste that is on them. Can't hurt you...." As pointed out by AngelaDaum it is a return to the Snake Oil of long ago. At least the identity, purity, and possible harmful effects of  pharmaceuticals are documented and reviewed. Are they perfect? Of course not. But at least you know what you are getting and what it may do to you rather than living in this naive fantasy world that if its natural it is safe. Poison Oak is an herb. Rattlesnake and Black Widow spider venom are all natural and organic as well. 


jtully
jtully like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

@DavidChirantanSerlin FDA admits over 125,000 deaths every year from properly prescribed Pharmaceuticals while deaths from Dietary Supplements are typically 0 as in Zero (2010 is the last year data I've read).

Funny thing is if you over dose on a pharmaceutical like Tylenol hospitals immediately treat with natural products like n-acetyl-cysteine or charcoal.

This is just downright poor, sensationalist journalism.

parthenogene
parthenogene

@jtully @DavidChirantanSerlin Most herbals aren't dangerous:they're just useless...

jtully
jtully

@parthenogene @jtully @DavidChirantanSerlin If herbals were useless we wouldn't have aspirin (originally derived from white willow) or better yet Lipitor (active ingredient found in Red Rice Yeast). The list goes on and on.

Don't get me wrong, after 20 years in the industry I've seen my share of snake oil too.

rxlawdude
rxlawdude

@jtully @DavidChirantanSerlin

Other than the fact that there is no reporting mechanism for herbal remedies to the FDA and is REQUIRED for pharmaceuticals, duh.  Perhaps people think that because it's an herb it's inherently safe and could not be the cause of that rash or gastrointestinal symptom. See the article below for example.

And I'll ask you, of those 125,000 deaths, how many were caused by unrecognized interactions with herbals that were not reported to the physician during the medical history?  I bet it's not insignificant.

From the British Medical Journal:

"One hundred and thirty-four respondents (26.0%) would consult their GP for a serious ADR to a conventional OTC medicine, but not for a similar ADR to a herbal remedy, whereas four respondents (0.8%) would consult their GP for a serious ADR to a herbal remedy, but not for a similar ADR to a conventional OTC medicine. Similar differences were found in attitudes towards reporting ‘minor’ suspected ADRs.

Conclusions

Consumers of herbal remedies would act differently with regard to reporting an ADR (serious or minor) to their GP depending on whether it was associated with a herbal remedy or a conventional OTC medicine. This has implications for herbal pharmacovigilance, particularly given the increasing use of OTC herbal remedies. The finding that a high proportion of respondents would not consult their GP or pharmacist following ADRs to conventional OTC medicines is also of concern."

profpatient
profpatient

@jtully @rxlawdude @DavidChirantanSerlin 

I went to a Chinese Acupuncturist with the Ephreda scandal occurred.  The people who tried to put it into meds here didn't know you simply had to boil it first for it not to be poisonous.  There is always more hidden in a story.

jtully
jtully like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

@rxlawdude @jtully @DavidChirantanSerlin Dietary Supplement companies are in fact required to submit Adverse Reaction Reports to FDA 100% of the time and are in fact regulated by 1994's DSHEA and more recently the 2011 FDA Draft Guidance for GMPs which details such reporting.

The % of deaths as a result of interaction with an herbal are infinitesimally small and I would not be surpised if most years it was zero. That being said, everyone should declare all medications and supplements when talking with his or her physician.

Point is, you have to go back decades to when ephedra was being abused to find a year with 10 Dietary Supplement deaths while every year there's 100,000+ as a result of PROPERLY prescribed Pharmaceuticals. It illustrates very clearly the sensationalism of the journalism.

Even more telling is that Pharaceuticals with the passing of DSHEA realized they couldn't eliminate supplements so they just started buying supplement companies like Nature's Way, Centrum, etc.

PeterFree
PeterFree like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

@DavidChirantanSerlin Been drinking guave leaf tea from China to treat my type2 diabetes; more effective than metformin and cheaper too.

rxlawdude
rxlawdude

@PeterFree @DavidChirantanSerlin And there is limited scientific data to support the antiglycemic effects of guava leaf.  But when sold in the US, it still must be marketed not to "diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent" any disease.  But how do you know what's in that container?  There's no oversight whatsoever.

There are multiple cases of "herbal" medicines containing pharmaceutical contaminants.  With better oversight and controls over quality and supply chains, I'd have no problem with herbals like guava leaf that have science to back them up.

bmcdonald227
bmcdonald227 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Give me a break -- Herbal medications are fine...You need to go after the pharmaceutical companys and Pharmacies that sell medicines. I see medications advertised on tv that says:  Could cause fatal death, kidney failure, heart failure,skin rash, excessive bleeding, etc. -- the worst.  I can't believe people would even buy these medicines advertised on tv.... don't they hear the side effects.  Its worst than the problem they are curing.  I will take herbal medicines over pharmaceuticals anytime!!!!!

rxlawdude
rxlawdude

@bmcdonald227 Oh, one more thing: the herbal purveyors, unlike the regulated pharma manufacturers,  DON'T HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE RISKS OF INJURY OR DEATH FROM THEIR PRODUCTS!

(And note that I'm not a fan of pharmaceutical companies at all.  But let's at least keep the discussion on an even playing field.

AngelaDaum
AngelaDaum

Sad thing is Snake Oil sales pitches catch peoples ears because the pharma industry is out of control and people can't afford it sometimes. Some folks feel they don't have a choice - sad as that seems.

rxlawdude
rxlawdude like.author.displayName 1 Like

The current state of no regulation of herbals in the US is an embarrassment.  We have returned to "Snake Oil" sales pitches, with companies appearing and disappearing as their false claims are revealed.  It's a game of whack-a-mole.  Do you want to trust your life to businesses like that?

If it seems too good to be true, it's probably not true. 

irving_tx
irving_tx like.author.displayName 1 Like

"Pharmaceutical Medicines Pose Health Risk to Millions Worldwide" - would this be a wrong title for an article?

The human race has come millions of years without the need for Pfizer, Merck, Glaxo or whatever... How come no one, says anything about the damage mainstream drugs are causing to people? You guys should carry one article per day for the rest of the time, to be able to do tell a small share of that damage. But then...

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/03/20/herbal-medicines-pose-health-risk-to-millions-in-asia/#ixzz2O6erUu2A

rapier1
rapier1 like.author.displayName 1 Like

@irving_tx True, we've lasted millions of years without any of these companies. Of course, we were prone to dying from smallpox and we were crippled by polio. Simple scratches could get infected and kill us. Effective medications that did exist - like quinine from the cinchona tree of Peru were so expensive that only the elites could afford it so hundreds of thousands of other died from malaria. So yeah, we survived but more likely than not a lot of people posting on here would be around to do it.