banning herbs?

Liz_Defiance(Central AZ)October 23, 2003

i've heard rumors of the FDA planning to ban several herbs, including:






blood root

any truth to these rumors? does anybody know where i could find out more information? i'm of the mindset that illegalizing plants should be illegal!!

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These are unfounded rumors.

The FDA does not even have authority to compel manufacturers of dangerous or contaminated herbal products to remove them from the market, much less make it illegal for private individuals to grow or possess herbs.

To check the FDA's position on safety and effectiveness of certain herbal products, you can go to this site and use the search box.
For instance, on kava the FDA has sent out a letter to health care professionals, saying in part:

"Liver-related risks associated with the use of kava have prompted regulatory agencies in other countries, including those in Germany, Switzerland, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom, to take action ranging from warning consumers about the potential risks of kava use to removing kava-containing products from the marketplace. Although liver damage appears to be rare, FDA believes consumers should be informed of this potential risk.

Kava-containing products have been associated with liver-related injuries including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure -- in over 25 reports of adverse events in other countries. Four patients required liver transplants. In the U.S., FDA has received a report of a previously healthy young female who required liver transplantation, as well as several reports of liver-related injuries.

Given these reports, persons who have liver disease or liver problems, or persons who are taking drug products that can affect the liver, should consult a physician before using kava-containing supplements."

I don't see anything there about a ban.

Sometimes these types of rumors are fear-mongering encouraged by supplement manufacturers, who are worried about lower profits if they have to produce safe products with reliable, standardized dosages.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2003 at 8:09AM
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I think that sassafras is already considered a "drug", almost 20 years ago, I tried to find tea's with sassafras in was all "Sassafras FLAVOR" I asked around (didn't have a computer to do research) and was told that sassafras is hard on the liver, and I think they told me it was mildly addictive or something...anyway, the main reason was that it was liver toxic.
I know that wormwood, made into absinthe is illegal in the US, has been for a long time. Wormwood can be a neurotoxin and addictive in absinthe form.
I don't know about BANNING these herbs, how can you BAN a herb, BUT you can make it illegal to grow and propagate a plant, see opium poppies...
I can see the FDA having problems with some of the herbs... especially for people who just take herbs as a preventative....(see Chip) and some silly people who think if you can take a little of the herb, more is better!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2003 at 2:59PM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

Banning home grown would not be possible, but banning these products for sale to consumers may be.

Don't know about the FDA, but Health Canada has banned the commercial sale of some herbs, including kava and ephedra due to reported deaths and illness associated with their use.

HerbMed lists many herbs and informantion about any toxic effects.

Sassafras is known to contain cancer causing compounds, blood root can damage liver.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2003 at 7:56PM
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Liz -

sassafras - contains potent liver-damaging compounds

wormwood - neurotoxin

mandrake - just plain too poisonous! It's useful for experienced herbalists who have the lab skills to assay the strength

blood root - if it's Sanguinaria canadensis., it's poisonous in large doses and must never be used during pregnancy.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2003 at 10:13PM
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If they can't ban personal growing of herbs, then I want to grow Cannabis!
Liz- is datura, castor bean, or any of the ipomeas on that list?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2003 at 10:38AM
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What list?

    Bookmark   October 24, 2003 at 11:11AM
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The list of herbs the FDA is supposedly planning to 'ban'.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2003 at 12:04PM
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That was the point.

The "list" exists only in rumor - since the FDA does not even have power to limit sales of harmful herbs.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2003 at 4:36PM
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Rachaelfish(6 North Carolin)

It would be difficult to ban any of these anyway-since they grow in the wild. Sassafrass here is common, just walk through the woods and pick some to chew on.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2003 at 9:41AM
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The basis of the rumor is the proposal that the manufacturers of various supplements be REQUIRED to have the contents and concentrations they say they have (truth in labelling, what a radical idea), and that the production facilities be subject to the same regulations as other drugs for cleaanliness.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2003 at 11:32AM
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Is there a specific proposal to this effect, lazygardens (i.e. legislation)?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2003 at 9:34PM
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I'd have to look it up. It was discussed on alt.folklore.herbs a while back.

It was either penhding legislation or a change to the powers of the FDA (the FTC already has the power to enforce truth in labelling on all consumer products).

    Bookmark   November 3, 2003 at 9:13AM
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Reform to assure quality and safety would be welcome.

However, it's doubtful if Congress will act without our first experiencing a scandal like that which has just occurred in Australia.

There, a giant manufacturer of complementary health products (herbs and supplements), Pan Pharmaceuticals, was ordered to recall more than 1000 of its products after inspectors found bad manufacturing practices, substitution of ingredients without consumer knowledge and manipulation of test results. There are also charges of coverups and illegal stock trading. Makes chilling reading.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2003 at 2:43PM
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storey(z8b/9a TX)

I'm not sure about the specific herbs mentioned, but the FDA itself doesn't have the ability to ban anything not sold to the general public. However slight changes to the fedral, state, or local Noxious Weed (Control) Acts would do the trick. The US Fish and Wildlife Dept, Agriculture Dept, etc already are having fun with those. Take a look at the USDA APHIS division's website ( Some of the restrictions I can sort of understand, but the rest ...

    Bookmark   November 3, 2003 at 11:34PM
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bungalow_mikee(z10 CA)

They have taken Comfrey in liquid form off the market shelves at Wild Oats in Los Angeles. This is a shame because it was the only thing that helped me with bad cold sores.

The pure comfrey, however is still available.
At least it was available 2 years ago when I was at the store.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2003 at 1:15PM
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Some of these herbs have already banned in Canada for years, and Canada has always been the test site for the US. The plants are no longer allowed to be grown or sold except by the pharmaceutical companies who are behind the banning for the herbs. It gives them control over their distribution.

If you are growing any of them, I suggest that you do not use their proper names when people ask you what they are. Just make up some plausible name. If no one knows what you are growing, no one is going to report you, and no one is going to come and destroy your plants. That is the way we have to do it in Canada.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2004 at 8:33AM
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scryn(z6 NY)

I know you can't buy and grow hops in new york state, because it is related to cannabis. I grow wormwood though, it is sold as a decorative plant in greenhouses. I don't think the FDA can bad growing certain herbs. I think that the agricultural sector can do this.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2004 at 9:52AM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

Traute is wrong, the herbs banned in Canada are truly banned, neither drug companies nor herbal companies can sell them.

As far as it goes, many of the herbal product manufacturers are as large and as profitable as the drug companies. The biggest difference between them is the herbal companies do not have to prove their products work, are safe,are manufactured in sanitary conditions or actually contain what the label says they contain.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2004 at 7:58PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

US Fish & Wildlife has nothing to do with maintaining noxious weed lists, regulation of noxious weeds or your herbs. On the federal level it's USDA APHIS for both policy and enforcement (and none of the plants we are talking about even come close).

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 7:39AM
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You can buy and grow hops in NY state. Check out Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown and the Farmer's Museum there, lovely hop yards. We grow hops. In fact, Schoharie County, where we live, used to have large hop farms in the late 1800's. They are still quite okay to grow.

Check out for an article on comfrey products being banned in Canada.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 7:52AM
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scryn(z6 NY)

That is interesting Herbalbetty, we were told that we could not be shipped hops because we were not allowed to grow it in ny state. We were going to purchase it through a plant catalog.
I actually have lived in NY state my entire life and don't remember seeing any hops. We live by some breweries also. I have never visited cooperstown though.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 8:03AM
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Hi Renee,

Did the company selling hops say why they wouldn't ship? It could be their plants weren't certified non-fungus or non-viral. And NY state may require that in hops. I'm not sure. But, I do know for sure that you certainly can grow hops here. Contact me in the spring and I will send you a slip!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 1:09PM
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scryn(z6 NY)

Well, they did ship other plants to NY, I thought that when a greenhouse was certified that all the plants that they grow are included in that. I will have to look around. I must be able to get some locally if I can grow it. We have huge greenhouses by us!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 4:34PM
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DigginDanny(z5 NY Catskills)

Many suppliers of hop rhizomes are from WA and OR. The hop growers in those states have been fighting powdery mildew for a couple of years now..the same thing that destroyed the hop production in NY in the 1800's. There may be some confusion as some of these suppliers are unable to ship rhizomes out of their region for fear of spreading the disease. If you are looking for rhizomes, they are only available in the spring, usually March-April. If you cannot find them in a local greenhouse you could look for a homebrewing shop nearby, most take orders in the spring for customers. They may also be ordered online from folks such as

    Bookmark   November 9, 2004 at 10:57AM
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cornelius(se MI)

i don't see how hops can be prohibited for a vague botanical link with cannabis, as hops contains no scheduled substance at all. no living thing should be "illegal"--the very idea is insane--what if pine trees turned out to have an intoxicating substance? would the government cut them all down and give the proceeds to weyerhauser? (with bush, most likely). sassfras contains safrol, removed from some (but evidently NOT all) of the sassfras products. if you want a weird example of governmental intrusion: a guy from australia wrote to me and said that poppy seeds (yes, seeds) were illegal there...

    Bookmark   January 10, 2005 at 4:31PM
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ltcollins1949(9a TX)

I buy the pure sassafras at the Whole Foods Store in Houston, Texas for my Mom. She lives in Indiana, and she has not been able to find it in years. And, I had bought the "Sassafras Flavor" stuff for her, but she didn't like it. She is happy with the sassafras that I buy her now.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 6:04AM
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I have read that Sassafras is liver toxic... so be careful!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2005 at 11:57AM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

Sassafras is known to cause liver cancer as well as high blood pressure and nerve damage. It is not safe. To quote from the Sloan-Kettering website:

Sassafras, containing safrole, has caused liver cancer in animal models and is classified as a carcinogenic substance. Risk increases with length of exposure and amount consumed. It is unsafe and ineffective.

Common: Hot flashes and diaphoresis
Toxicity: Hallucinations, hypertension, tachycardia, liver cancer, and death"

Full link below.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2005 at 12:43PM
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shona(Zone 5 MO)

I LOVE sassafras tea, and drink it often. My great granny got me drinking it when I was little. Both she and HER mother both drank it on a regular basis and lived to be almost 100 (one died at age 98 and the other at the age of 96). Neither developed liver problems, nor suffered from high blood pressure. My blood pressure averages 109/60, and I've found that it actually RELIEVES my power surges (aka hot flashes). The FDA spouts out a lot of misinformation on natural foods, and I personally believe our government does not want us to be healthy, as it's the pharmaceutical companies that keep this nation afloat. JMHO.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2005 at 6:12PM
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crankyoldman(z5 NY)

I believe that much of the yowling about various herbs actually has to do not with their alleged hazardousness but with them being used either to get high with or to make illegal drugs. Ma huang is a good example. Meth cooks began choosing it as a virtually untraceable source of the alkaloid used to make methamphetamine when stores starting tracking purchases of Sudafed, which had previously been the meth cook's source of that alkaloid. Only when that shift in precursors happened did ma huang all the sudden become so (allegedly) deadly.

Something similar happened before with another herb--sassafras. This herb was minding its own business and suddenly became !!!TOXIC!!! right when it turned out to be a drug precursor, this time for the manufacture of MDMA, better known to us old farts as Ecstasy. Sassafras essential oil has even become a watched chemical for that reason.

Wormwood--neurotoxic? Not much proof of thujone toxicity, but lots of would-be stoners use wormwood to make faux absinthe. So wormwood has become an ingredient in the manufacture of another illegal recreational drug (absinthe is illegal in the US).

Kava? A recreational drug in its own right. And the FDA hates recreational drugs almost as much as it hates drug precursors. Not to mention that the FDA looks around at governmental agencies like the DEA and asks, logically enough, "Why can't we be cowboys too? We wanna bust down some doors!"

The lack of regulation of the dietary supplement industry is both a blessing and a curse. No regulation means lots of adulteration. I stay far away from powdered herbs, especially those that come in a capsule, because there is no way to tell what's in there. The likelihood is high that powdered herbs are adulterated because there is no law to prevent it, but rather than mixed with the toxins that the FDA likes to trot out to scare the pants off people (lead, arsenic), it's much more likely to be stretched with flour, sawdust, tea, and other cheap crap. But as long as regulation is lacking, you will also find good, clean, quality herbs that are cheap, plentiful, and accessible. If herbs were regulated, that would change. People have mentioned Canada, where a number of herbs are banned--and I agree with the poster who mentioned that Canada is a kind of a test run for the US banning of herbs. Or take a look at France. There, essential oils are available by prescription only. There are people who would love to see that kind of thing here. Pharmaceutical companies, for one.

I think the only thing holding the FDA back from regulating herbs is money. They don't have the funding, and they aren't going to get it in the near future. In Canada, they are spending their tax money in Canada, so their agencies have the funding to regulate herbs. Our government programs and agencies don't get that kind of funding, because we like to squander a lot of our tax money invading places no one can even point to on a map.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 6:51PM
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I have not heard of significant concerns over either ma huang or sassafras being used as drug precursors (do you have any links describing such a problem?). And of course the known hazards with wormwood/absinthe date back a century or more.

I think you're right about one of the problems with lack of regulation being adulteration. But I would not minimize the potential risks related to toxic adulterants, as has been seen for example with Chinese herbal products.

Possibly herbal drug prices would increase somewhat if effective regulations took effect. It would be worth it to me to have access to standardized, effective preparations (in numerous cases studies have found herbal products to vary widely in their concentrations of active ingredients, with some being virtually inert).

"I think the only thing holding the FDA back from regulating herbs is money." True - but it's the money being made by the multi-billion dollar supplement industry and funneled into effective lobbying efforts that have stymied regulation. Industry profits would be less substantial if corporations were obliged to upgrade their manufacturing and quality control to produce uniformly high quality products - or if they had to devote the same percentage of their profits toward funding research that the makers of pharmaceuticals do.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 7:31PM
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crankyoldman(z5 NY)

You don't want standardized herbs. Really. They already exist, and they are crap. Here's why: to make an herb standardized, synthetic forms of the alkaloids are added. If you want single chemicals, use regular medicine. Plant medicines don't work like allopathic medicines. They contain for instance something that might damage the liver but will also contain a liver protectant. Plant medicines are about a number of things in the plant acting together, not singly. So it's a completely different way at looking at medicines.

Standardization seems like it would make sense--same dose all the time. But is your body the same all the time? Is it the same now as it was 25 years ago? And is your body the same as a skinny old lady's? A fat man's? An athelete's? A teenager's? No. IMO, the very idea that a dose should be the same for everyone is fraudulent. We aren't all the same. With herbs, as with anything you put into or onto your body, you've got to experiment. You work with an herb and get to know it and get to know the source.

I consider it mandatory to learn about an herb before using it in any way. One way to do that is to grow that herb. If you don't have a green thumb or the space or time to grow herbs, find someone who does. Or at least make sure you do a lot of reading on the herb and buy it in a form that is difficult to adulterate. A gelcap is never going to be such a form. A good way to get herbs with a decent amount of purity and freshness is in a liquid extract. It is hard to falsify a taste.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, which I use, has a very different history than Western allopathic medicine and comes out of a different culture with different laws. In some countries, like Thailand and Taiwan, Chinese medicine still incorporates alchemical remedies that include things like arsenic, lead, and antimony. These aren't contaminants. They are active ingredients in their countries of origin. Also, in Asia, many items are OTC that aren't here, like Valium, antibiotics, etc. So in Taiwan, in particular, where most of these contaminated patent medicines originated, it is not unusual to go buy a patent medicine that should have x,y,z herbs in it and to find it also has a bunch of other things thrown in there for the hell of it. This is not how we do things, but it's how they do it in a number of other countries.

To get pure herbs and patent medicines, you buy from companies that use what are called Good Manufacturing Practices. This is a voluntary standard. A good company that does this is Plum Flower Brand, a manufacturer based in mainland China. Not only do their herbs and patent medicines (these are old herb formulas, some of them 2000 years old) not have any contaminants, they don't even use legal preservatives like sulfur or aluminum.

About the condemnation of herbs that are precursors, here's a DEA link about the use of sassafras to manufacture mdma:

Here's a link about ma huang (ephedra) being used to manufacture methamphetamine:

While the supplement industry might seem big and powerful, they are a teensy little mite compared to the pharmaceutical industry in this country. I don't believe it is the supplement industry's lobbying that is holding back the regulation of herbs. After all, the pharmaceutical companies would love to see herbs regulated; then they could control them. And they have far, far more money for lobbying than the supplement industry does. I think instead it is the popularity of herbs that is holding back regulation. Over one third of Americans are now using alternative medicine, including herbs. And botanical medicine has a long history in the US--the Eclectic movement, which began in the Colonial period and was the dominant medical modality up until the 1930s in this country. You don't make a law that you know everyone is going to break. It just causes people to become scofflaws in general. I think this and money woes are what is holding back regulation, not any lobbying.

And frankly, I am glad.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 1:50PM
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Thanks for the links.

I have seen no mentions in any of the stories leading up to restrictions of ephedra/ma huang sales of concern over herbal extracts being used in methamphetamine manufacture (which your link indicates is theoretically possible). The evidence indicates that health concerns were what drove the FDA to finally act. Now that stronger state restrictions on pseudoephedrine sales are coming into play, it wouldn't surprise me if some big meth manufacturers turn to other sources (it'll probably be tougher for the home lab cookers to make much use of ephedra).
I'm also unaware of herbal product users having much to do with sassafras oil as opposed to other forms of sassafras.

"to make an herb standardized, synthetic forms of the alkaloids are added. If you want single chemicals, use regular medicine. Plant medicines don't work like allopathic medicines. They contain for instance something that might damage the liver but will also contain a liver protectant."

This is the magical view: Nature ensured that the complex stew of chemicals within herbs was put there solely for our benefit. This ignores the evidence of a variety of plant poisons, some of which are the most potent toxins on earth (and which are not balanced by antidotes). If you don't believe this, you'll see nothing wrong with grinding up castor bean seeds for consumption (I strongly recommend that you NOT do this). What we've learned through "experimentation", however (and various injuries and deaths), is that without carefully standardized doses and buffers, useful herbal drugs can be quite dangerous.

Standardization does not imply adding synthetic forms of an herbal drug.

"In some countries, like Thailand and Taiwan, Chinese medicine still incorporates alchemical remedies that include things like arsenic, lead, and antimony. These aren't contaminants. They are active ingredients in their countries of origin. Also, in Asia, many items are OTC that aren't here, like Valium, antibiotics, etc. So in Taiwan, in particular, where most of these contaminated patent medicines originated, it is not unusual to go buy a patent medicine that should have x,y,z herbs in it and to find it also has a bunch of other things thrown in there for the hell of it."

The idea that a herbal mixture might contain "a bunch of other things thrown in there for the hell of it." scares the hell out of me. That used to be the state of affairs in patent medicine sales in the U.S., when dangerous adulterants were present and people got addicted to opium unawares, until passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1905.

We've come a long way since then, and improvements for our safety can still be made.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2005 at 5:21PM
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crankyoldman(z5 NY)

I said nothing about nature putting anything into plants for our benefit, although we have in fact evolved along with plants, not along with Merck. I said that often a plant constituent that is detrimental to animals, including people, such as a liver carcinogen, is accompanied in the plant by a liver protectant, and so forth. If you don't believe me, you can look at Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Database. It's run by the government, which could hardly be less magical:

It's fun to cruise around there, especially when you do some searches for common chemicals. Relationships between plants that are not botanically related turn up.

Not only can there be a certain amount of balance within an herb, but the relationship between various constituents is often synergistic, so that the effect of the "active principle" is greater when it is taken together with the other chemicals it is naturally present with.

Other medical systems expand upon this idea and reject the use of single herbs for being harmful. For instance, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, taking single herbs is frowned upon precisely because the negative effects of that herb are then not counterbalanced. This is a botanical medicine that has thousands of years of experimentation and "bioassays" on millions of human beings under its belt. In contrast, allopathic medicine, which focuses on using single chemicals, has been around for a couple centuries and bases its knowledge on rat studies. It's a good idea to have a little humility when looking at other medical systems. We have a lot to learn from them.

A standardized herbal extract involves the adjustment of the "active principle" of the herb. This could mean the addition of, for instance, another crop of the same herb that had a higher alkaloid content to one with a lesser alkaloid content so that a certain percentage that is considered by some perspectives as ideal is reached, but generally it involves the addition to the herb of single chemicals, not herb crops, that are considered to be the "active principle" of the herb. This practice puts the balance of chemicals present in an herb out of whack. If A's negative effects are counterbalanced by B's, you are only hurting yourself by taking twice as much A as B. And thinking that a single chemical in an herb is responsible for its action is, as I said, an extension of allopathic thinking--that a single chemical can cure. Other health modalities reject this idea, and they have been healing people with botanicals for literally thousands of years--Chinese medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, etc.

Neither I nor anyone else has recommended that the practice of throwing anything at all into a pill and calling it good be followed here or anywhere. I did, however, point out that an accepted practice in another country might be exactly that--an accepted practice in another country, not a question of "contamination." Time to think outside of the US box and see the world as not an extension of the US but as composed of very different cultures that include very different ways of doing things.

We can learn to identify herbs for ourselves (as long as they haven't been ground into dust and put into a gelcap). Just for starters, the Eclectic medical movement collected descriptions of dried herbs, including how they tasted, smelled, and looked, how they reacted to common chemicals, and so forth. You can find these descriptions in materia medica that the Eclectic movement published, such as King's American Dispensatory:

There are many other publications a person can learn from, but nothing succeeds like personal experience--getting to know the herb oneself. Yes, it's more work than having some pharmaceutical company tell you what to do. But more and more people are willing to do that extra work, which empowers them in their own healtcare and their relationship to their environment.

Because we have become estranged from nature (to the point where we no longer even consider ourselves animals) and have been taught to fear ingesting anything except what the pharmaceutical companies want us to buy (no matter how dangerous those chemicals might be for us), we have acquired a deep fear of any plant. This is just as dangerous as thinking that nothing botanical can hurt you. We must act like the adults we are and take on the responsibility to educate ourselves about any medicine, botanical, allopathic, homeopathic, or whatever.

The fact of the matter is that the pharmaceutical companies do NOT have our best interests at heart. They are huge corporations, and huge corporations must, in order to enrich their investors, have their wallet at heart. If you want to learn about botanical medicine, you don't do it from an organization that opposes botanical medicine politically and philosophically. There are lots of other sources for knowledge. One of the best ways to learn about herbs together with reading about them is growing them yourself.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 8:12AM
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First you said this about herbs: "They contain for instance something that might damage the liver but will also contain a liver protectant."

Now you don't sound quite as convinced:"I said that often a plant constituent that is detrimental to animals, including people, such as a liver carcinogen, is accompanied in the plant by a liver protectant, and so forth. (bolding added)

So: please tell us exactly what the protectants are in the traditional Chinese herb fangchi (Aristolochia) which has been found to be a carcinogen. Or in chaparral, which has been found to be toxic to the liver. Or what chemicals in aconite or castor beans are "protective" when the whole herb product is ingested.

I agree that large corporations are primarily interested in the bottom line - their profits. This also applies to the multi-billion dollar supplement industry, and the individual companies that export potentially harmful herbal mixtures into this country without proper oversight. Which is why adequate regulations to cover product claims and continued safety in long-term use are required.

I realize there is a considerable philosophic difference between us about medicines. I am unwilling to take a drug, herbal or conventional pharmaceutical, without being assured that it has been tested and found to be relatively safe in research and clinical settings, and that dosages are standardized and produced in a quality manufacturing process. I'm not willing to be a lab rat and experiment on myself.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 8:58AM
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johnyb(QLD Aust)

I am happy to give some clarification on herbal standardisation methods, which may be confusing some forum readers in light of recent posts.

"standardized herbal extract involves the adjustment of the 'active principle' of the herb... generally it involves the addition to the herb of single chemicals, not herb crops, that are considered to be the 'active principle' of the herb." These statements are incorrect.

Good manufacturing practice (please note that not all companies comply with this)for herbal standardisation involves rigorous proceedures that ensure quality and efficacy, and ensure therapeutic leveles of active constituents.

A pre-shipment sample of herbs is required for testing before any agreement to buy a bulk shipment of herbs from a supplier is entered into. This sample is then visually inspected, then Thin Layer Chromtography fingerprinted, and validated as correct species with active constituents. If the sample doesnt meet the grade, it is rejected.

The sample is then tested for pesticide/heavy metal/microbial/radiation/alfatoxin content. if the sample doesnt meet the grade it is rejected.

Most herbs are then subjected a series of more rigorous tests such as High Performance Liquid Chromotography, Gas Chromotography, and Mass Spectrometry. Any herbs with lower than average active constituents simply do not pass the tests and are not included in PRACITIONER ONLY standardised herbal extracts from reputable manufacturers. Crankyoldman's claim that "single chemicals" might be added to a batch of herbs is not correct, because the sample of herbs with low actives does not pass pre-testing.

Now if you go to the heath food store, or get your pills from a Chinese company that does not conform to these standards of sourcing, testing and manufacture, you simply have no idea what you are getting.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 7:25PM
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The problem is that there is no reliable route to securing herbal medicines from trustworthy sources. Many people buy herbal products and other supplements at health food stores, supermarkets or over the Internet, from companies that may claim to have a superior product - but there is no real way for the consumer to tell.
If companies had to prove that their products worked, there would be some protection for the buyer, but in the U.S.A. this has been thwarted by legislation passed by Congress (DSHEA) exempting supplement makers from much of the regulatory process.

A number of studies have found widely varying amounts of the active ingredient in different brands of herbal products, some containing next to nothing. Another study found up to a quarter of products on health food store shelves contained none of the listed ingredients.

The idealized system described by johnyb, with extensive high-tech testing, costs money. It's cheaper and easier to circumvent it.

From this site:

"Supplements only need to be made using "good manufacturing practices" (GMP) but no GMPs exist for supplements.
Standards are left to the discretion of each manufacturer.

4) Health claims are permitted on labels.
Claims are allowed relating to how the supplement affects the structure or function of the body. Claims for disease cure or prevention are not allowed.
If a nutritional benefit claim is made, the label must indicate that the statement was not endorsed by the FDA. FDA approval is not needed for package or marketing claims.

Therefore, there is no guarantee that the label truly reflects the content of the package. In some cases, products could contain only a smaller amount of the substance or could contain toxic substances. The FDA will only investigate label fraud if documented proof is obtained."

More on the quality problem - and the risks involved.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 8:38PM
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johnyb(QLD Aust)

"The problem is that there is no reliable route to securing herbal medicines from trustworthy sources".

Eric, consulting a university qualified herbalist who uses practitioner only herbs from a reputable company (such as Mediherb in Australia) is one way route a patient could take to secure herbal medicine from a trustworthy source.

This costs the consumer more money, takes more time, but ensures professionalism and product efficacy whilst also eliminating the unsatisfactory outcome of poor quality products whilst unknowingly subsidising supplement suppliers of sub-effacious products. Unfortunately, the cost of incorporating herbalists into government subsidised medicine, coupled with the absence of large tax payments from the supplement corporations make sensible long term changes to the rules, for the protection of patients, well beyond most politicians scope .


    Bookmark   February 2, 2005 at 10:58PM
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vixenmoon(8a, Oregon)

I'm still a budding herbalist, so I may be lurking more than talking (perhaps :) ), but I do have a comment here.

So many drugs (herbal and non) which otherwise have valid uses have been scheduled because of uneducated recreational users. To me, why you take it is your own concern, but respect the drug!

All I can hope is that enough people get educated, then we'll actually be able to use herbs for their rightful purpose.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 5:21AM
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"consulting a university qualified herbalist who uses practitioner only herbs from a reputable company (such as Mediherb in Australia) is one way route a patient could take to secure herbal medicine from a trustworthy source.

Many people would like to be able to get reliable herbal products without going through practitioners whose qualifications and experience are difficult to assess. Beyond that, such practitioners are bound to have many of the same problems as individual consumers, in getting proven remedies from big supplement corporations which are able to make wild claims for their drugs and otherwise duck effective regulation.

I hope we can keep these discussions in general terms without endorsements of particular drug companies.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 8:08AM
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Hey, Vixenmoon... I think I know you...are you Oliveak ? Don't say the Y word in here, you will get booted... but sometimes I am also known as Rowan...:oD

    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 11:02AM
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PS... you might recognise xoxoRowan

    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 11:04AM
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johnyb(QLD Aust)

Asd a practitioner I have accounts with just 5 supplement/herbal companies, out of around 50 (at a guess) that sell products here in Australia.

My reasons for buying their products are that I know they are effacous because i have studied herbalism. The assessment of qualifications and experience of any health professional is subjective from a public patient viewpoint, but more objectively assessed, at an eduacational level, when one has obtained a degree in their chosen field.

Tighter manufacturing regulations and practitioner dispening is a big step closer to patients getting effacious herbs that help their health. A much worse system of health food store self service currently exists. Unfortunately most patients simply do not have adequate knowledge to self medicate, which is evident when examining the high sales figures for supplements with little or no effacious ingredients (such as Echinacea) bought in good faith by people wanting to self medicate.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 5:43PM
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vixenmoon(8a, Oregon)

:) good to see a familiar face... :D

    Bookmark   February 3, 2005 at 11:48PM
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crankyoldman(z5 NY)

Aristolochia is actually a good example of a plant containing substances that counteract each other. Here's the info on a constituent of Aristolochia from Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Database, a url which I gave above, but I guess it was extremely difficult to actually look up the herbs in question. The numbers and letters after each action of the chemical are references--that means they refer to studies or, in some cases, scientific correspondence. You could go to the site and actually look up these papers if you felt like it:


Abortifacient JE32:173 ; Antiadenocarcinoma EMP1:121 ; Antiaggregant AHP132 ; Antibacterial DUKE1992B ; Anticancer FT73:692 ; Anticarcinomic 4 ppm DUKE1992B ; Antiedemic AHP132 ; Antieicosanoid AHP132 ; Antifertility PJB1(2):261 ; Antiherpetic EMP1:121 ; Antiimplantation 3-4 mg/kg orl DUKE1992B ; Antiinflammatory JBH ; Antineoplastic; Antiprostaglandin AHP132 ; Antiseptic JBH ; Antithrombic FT73:692 ; Antitonsilitic DUKE1992B ; Antitumor JBH ; Antivaccinia EMP5:198 ; Antiviral EMP5:198 ; Carcinogenic 0.1-10 mg/kg/3 mos mus EMP1:119 ; Contraceptive PMP24:101 ; Hemangionagenic 5 mg/kg mus AHP131 ; Hepatotoxic AEHD1:82 ; Immunostimulant PMP24:101 ; Larvicide 1 ppm 454 ; Mutagenic AHP132 ; Nephrotoxic AEHD1:84 ; Papillomagenic AEHD1:85 ; Pesticide DUKE1992B ; Phagocytotic 0.9 mg/man/day; Phospholipase-A2-Inhibitor AHP132 ; Vulnerary 411

Please look carefully at the contradictory effects. This is ONE constituent of aristolochia, and it is the one that is most often seen as dangerous.

Aconite is actually used in Traditional Chinese Medicine in various ways and in a couple of forms--and it even has a history of being used in American botanical medicine. Those who are interested can look it up at the urls I gave in previous posts. Those who are here simply to attack herbal medicine are not going to be convinced by any amount of evidence, no matter what it is or where it comes from. As I have posted already twice now, botanical medicine does not take the same perspective about treatment that allopathic medicine does. It doesn't deal in single chemicals. End of story.

But since we're being told how safe allopathic medicine is, let's just look at my favorite example of allopathic safety: acetaminophen. It's possible to buy acetaminophen over the counter. It's considered so "harmless" that you don't need a prescription to get it. But acetaminophen is implicated in thousands of deaths per year. And we're not talking about attempted suicides. We're talking about people who are using acetaminophen upon their doctor's advice in appropriate amounts for the treatment of chronic pain. Acetaminophen is highly toxic to the liver, but for some strange reason (COULD it be the power of the pharmaceutical companies??? Hmmm), it's perfectly okay for anyone to buy as much acetaminophen as they want--and for doctors to recommend it to their patients as a perfectly good treatment for chronic pain. It could kill ya, but hey, your pain would be gone, no? In contrast, it's not okay, it's scary and terrible and making a lab rat of oneself to take aristolochia, which has been used safely for thousands of years in China. I guess those Chinese just have cast-iron livers.

It is amazing to me that people will clamor for testing on rodents to "prove" a chemical as a medicine, a model that has failed over and over and over again to protect people, but they will not accept that literally millions of people have safely used an herb for treatment for thousands of years as proof of its validity and safety. This just seems totally nuts to me.

I have posted above that it is perfectly possible to learn how to identify herbs. But when an herb is ground up into a powder and hidden inside a little pill, then it can never be identified. Of course, without a mass spectrometer, we can't identify any of the chemicals in the pills we are given by pharmaceutical companies either. Heck, even if those chemicals weren't in a pill, we couldn't identify them. Yet somehow, those companies that sell us those unidentifiable chemicals are deemed more trustworthy than herbalists selling herbs that we can learn how to identify by sight, smell, and taste. It's particularly striking to make an assertion like that now of all times, when we are being shown just how much the FDA, which is supposed to be watching the pharmaceutical companies and keeping our interests at heart, is simply in their pockets and has let chemical after chemical go right through and be used for everything on anyone, like they could not care less.

I guess one of the side-effects of allopathic medicine is the inability to accept that there are better health modalities out there.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 7:38PM
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Here's another reference on the severe kidney toxicity caused by Aristolochia in a herbal medicine. If there was any "protective" Aristolochia effect, those unfortunate patients didn't benefit by it.

It would be helpful to see any reference specifically showing a protective effect in a clinical study, rather than a long list of claims that indicate that the herb is good for practically anything that ails you.

"But since we're being told how safe allopathic medicine is..."

No one here has said so. This is an example of a "strawman" argument. What has been said is that effective regulations improve the safety of medications and help assure us that the drug works and that active ingredients are present in sufficient quantity - something we can't rely on for herbal drugs.

"But when an herb is ground up into a powder and hidden inside a little pill, then it can never be identified."

No, it can be identified (as with the sort of testing that John mentioned earlier).

As far as acetominophen goes, it is safe when used properly in the vast majority of cases, and not taken in excess dosages or in combination with other agents that damage the liver (like alcohol). Any drug taken over long periods for pain can cause problems, including narcotics and aspirin (originally an herbal-derived drug). Unlike aristolochia, acetominophen has both clinical studies and a long track record in practice backing its usefulness, and it is not a carcinogen.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2005 at 9:02AM
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crankyoldman(z5 NY)

"Unlike aristolochia, acetominophen has both clinical studies and a long track record in practice backing its usefulness, and it is not a carcinogen."

I will say this once more, and then I'm sorry, but I haven't got anymore time to waste on people who want to watch out for the interests of the pharmaceutical industry.

Acetaminophen is implicated in thousands of deaths a year. These are people who are using it as advised. It is a deadly drug. But acetaminophen is owned by pharmaceutical companies, so the likelihood that it will be banned is nil. It will instead continue to kill people by destroying their liver. This is how the pharmaceutical companies keep us "safe." This is how the FDA "protects" us.

In contrast, the evidence of aristolochia's toxicity is in rodent studies. We are not rodents. Aristolochia has been used safely by thousands of people for a couple thousand years. But they're just a bunch of dumb Chinamen, and aristolochia is not being sold by Merck, so aristolochia is scary and terrible. The quotation I gave about aristolochic acid, which is ONE constituent of aristolochia, cited scientific studies, but I guess some people are affronted by studies that contradict their misinformed but dearly held opinions.

No, you CAN'T identify an herb if it is ground up, because you haven't got your own mass spectrometer. You CAN learn to identify an herb by taste, smell, and sight, if it is not too chopped up. But actually learning how to identify an herb oneself is too hands-on for some people, who want multinational corporations to do their critical thinking for them. They want to be TOLD a drug is okay by the very company that INVENTED the drug. Why not just stamp "sucker" on your forehead and have done with it?

Thinking for oneself is difficult. It's not a popular thing in American culture, for all we brag about how we prize individualism. It's a lot easier to be a dupe of corporate doublespeak--so much less work, and so much more company, too.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 4:12PM
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johnyb(QLD Aust)

The sensory identification of herbs is a skill worth acquiring, but beyond one's garden or raw/dried herb use, I think in the year 2005 should not be the sole method for herbalists or consumers to use for medicine identification.

Herbs are nolonger used in raw/dried form as they were years ago, modern convenience, patient compliance and preservation demands make different forms essential. 90% of Liquid fluid extracts all look the same, a dark brown colour, only the smell and viscosity varies, of little use for identification if I don't trust my sense of smell.

Tablet forms of herbs are easy for the elderly to take, handy for people on the go who don't want to carry a bottle in their purse, or for alcoholics or those with stmach ulcers who can't take an ethanol preserved fluid extract. I can't identify one herbal tablet from another with exception to distinct smelling herbs such as Valerian or Bilberry.

Powdered forms are useful for children who only need small amounts of a herb or nutrient and can easily measure out half a teaspoon for example, rather than crushing a tablet in a mortar and pestle and then doing same. Smelling a powder makes me sneeze, so this is difficult, and visually an impossibility, so unless I trust the manufacturer and know exact constituent levels, I can't identify that herb.

Which brings us back to a point made earlier...that manufacturing rules for herbs should be tightened using standardization so that consumers know the efficacy of herbs. This can only be acheived via the use og good technology such as a mass spectrometry in manufacture, and NOT by visual identification of herbs, and the hope that a Chinese herbal company that escapes all good manufacturing practice hasn't included heavy metals in their asthma mix because they didn't properly test the batch.

The issue of herbs taking different end manufacturing forms is more for patient convenience, safety and quality of preservation than big industry removing the patient's method of herb identification by changing the end product to "control" the industry, and have herbalists/end users at their mercy like unknowing sheep.

Any substance (herbal/chemical/drug/pesticide/heavy meatal etc etc) can be identified by simply sending it to a laboratory for testing. On herbs or drugs, your local pharmacist can arrange this and should have a clear identification within 48 hours. Mothers of teenagers who find pills and powders in their children's rooms do this quite often.

Americans and Australians are amongst some of the most inventive and brilliant medical scientists in the world, many exploring new frontiers in science, such as TMS.


    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 6:31PM
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Acetaminophen is not "owned" by pharmaceutical companies. No one holds a patent on it for exclusive production. Anyone with funds to make it and who complies with FDA regulations can do so.

It is not practical to compare a drug like acetaminophen, which is consumed by millions of people in many millions of doses annually, and which has an extensive record of effectiveness in clinical study, with herbs consumed under the name Aristolochia, in far fewer doses, lacking evidence of clinical efficacy beyond folklore.

"...the evidence of aristolochia's toxicity is in rodent studies."

I refer you again to the links I posted previously and which cite toxic effects in humans.

"I haven't got anymore time to waste on people who want to watch out for the interests of the pharmaceutical industry."

Another strawman argument.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 6:40PM
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Hi, I am new to the forum, stumbled in from google, ( reading about scarletina), when I saw this topic. I believe what the original poster might be referring to is CODEX ALIMENTARIUS. It is a dangerous bill that will severally restrict how much will be able to purchase as far as herbal remedies, such as oregomax, and such , as well as making certain vitamins and remedies found in health food stores hard to get without a prescription. They are lowering the dosages for vitamins that you can buy over the counter.
Here is a link to a site I have been getting mail from for about yr now regarding this. It has already passed in the EU.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 5:41PM
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Codex Alimentarius isn't a bill.

It's an international commission that's been in existence since 1963, with the goal of promoting food standards and fair trade practices with regards to food.

Apparently it has become a bogeyman for certain fringe groups* and is used to foment fear and gain contributions based on WARNINGS! which have no basis in fact.

*Other favorite bogeymen include the Trilateral Commission and the Masons.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 7:12PM
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This has been all over my inbox, as well as radio programs I listen to..The news (Mainstream ) isnt reporting on this.
This is what I was referring to...We take direction under the U.N. not U.S. anymore..They have banned these in Europe already, Now we are next.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 10:21AM
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Speaking of conspiracy theories, the above link from Dr. Howenstine includes gems such as the following:

"For persons finding it hard to understand why all current turmoil is occurring remember that the Bible warns us there would be unprecedented weather problems and a One World government in the end times. The powerful organizations putting this together (Trilaterals, Club of Rome, Bildenbergers, 33rd degree Masons, etc.) meet in secret and are serving Satan. These individuals are certain that the world population is too large and they want to reduce it by 90% or more."

The site contains false information on a number of subjects including abortion, vaccines etc.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 11:57AM
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Why not type into google....."supplements defined and controlled by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO)--
In fact it was posted in this forum by another poster..

False info about vaccines, and abortions???? Uh-HUH!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 2:05PM
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What your Google search turns up is a list of fringe sites making the allegations detailed previously in this thread.

I don't see any documentation of WTO plans to ban supplements around the world, or of U.S. government willingness to go along with such an idea or any articles in reputable publications describing impending action.

One can either believe that this is all part of the Worldwide Conspiracy, or that a number of alt med advocates have gone off the deep end.

Other stuff on the good Dr. Howenstine's site is beyond the scope of this forum, but the medical and scientific community overwhelmingly accepts that vaccines have done enormous good in preventing and even eliminating infectious diseases, and that vaccines do NOT cause cancer, as the doc alleges. The weight of scientific evidence (based on repeated studies) is also that abortions do not cause cancer.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 3:04PM
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I suppose these people are a fringe group too..???
BTW It has been shown that abortions cause cancer...As for vaccines, cleaner living has played a HUGE part in eradicating small pox and other "normal" childhood diseases.
My brother did not die from mumps, my friend didnot die from measles, and we did not die from Chicken pox...However it has been proven that HCG was put into the vaccines given to women in third world nations, to cause miscarriage... When it comes to health care, the Gov't Need NOT apply. This includes vitamins and herbs as well.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 8:05PM
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At least the AHHA is not postulating Satanic influences. :)

About the most "alarming" development the site's lead article refers to is the idea that supplements (at least in Europe) are increasingly being required to have their safety demonstrated before they can be marketed to the public. For those of us who like the idea of having safe, non-contaminated effective drugs and supplements available in reliable standardized dosages, this is not alarming.

The AHHA says "Will this (the Codex) become a valuable data source for nutritional supplement information or a set of international restrictions with enough clout to empty the shelves of health food stores? The group supplies no evidence that health food store shelves will be "emptied", cites no pending legislation in the U.S. that would do this, and no political support for any sweeping bans. The multibillion dollar health supplement industry and its powerful supporters like Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have effectively hamstrung regulatory oversight for years, and there is no reason to think anything will change soon.

The misinformation about abortion and cancer risk dies hard, mostly for reasons that have nothing to do with women's health, but there is no link between abortion and breast cancer, as this recent major study of 83,000 women in 16 countries shows.

More on the success of vaccines, which have eradicated smallpox and are on the way to eliminating the scourge of polio worldwide, if fear and ignorance can be conquered simultaneously.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2005 at 9:55PM
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johnyb(QLD Aust)

You must have some time on your hands Eric! Tell me more about Orrin Hatch.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 1:22AM
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John, I will always try to answer your questions if possible (based on lengthy posts of yours like the one in this discussion, you apparently have some time available to make your views known ;)

Orrin Hatch (and a Democratic Senate counterpart, Tom Harkin) have been eager defenders of the supplement industry in Congress, helping to water down attempts at protecting consumers. At least one lobbying firm which employed Hatch's son has gotten large sums of money from supplement companies.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 9:05AM
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johnyb(QLD Aust)

When I'm on holidays i can post large threads, that's usually between Jan-Feb each year, so it's best to attack me at times other than that so my defences are minimal.

This Hatch thing sounds like a conspiracy theory.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 3:39PM
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John, it is not important to me how long your posts are. Nor do I come into threads where you have posted to say "You must have a lot of time on your hands", as you have repeatedly done in this forum. It's sort of rude.

The "Hatch thing" is no conspiracy, just business as usual in Congress. Hatch's relations with the supplement industry have been reported on in the major U.S. media, as noted in a report from the National Council Against Health Fraud:

"Orrin Hatch takes two media hits. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), whose 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act has greatly weakened the FDA's ability to protect consumers, has been rebuked for suggesting that the FDA has not done enough to protect the public from ephedra's dangers. Calling Hatch's remarks "a dazzling display of hypocrisy," Time senior science writer Leon Jaroff said, "The time has come for drastic revision of DSHEA, the re-empowerment of the FDA and the rejection of cynical proposals by legislators like Orrin Hatch." [Jaroff L. It's time to rethink ephedra regulation. March 5, 2003] Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times noted:

From 1998 to 2001, while Hatch's son Scott worked for a lobbying firm with close ties to his father, supplement industry clients paid the company more than $1.96 million, more than $1 million of it from clients involved with ephedra.
In 2002, Scott Hatch opened his own lobbying firm in partnership with two of his father's close associates. So far, the firm has received at least $30,000 in retainers from the National Nutritional Foods Association and a major manufacturer of ephedra (Twinlab) , both of whom were clients of the previous firm.
During the past decade, Orrin Hatch has received nearly $137,000 in campaign contributions from the supplements industry. [Neubauer C and others. Senator, his son get boosts from makers of ephedra. Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2003]"

You can find out more, if you are interested, by doing a Google search on the terms "Orrin Hatch supplement industry".


    Bookmark   March 9, 2005 at 4:02PM
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johnyb(QLD Aust)

I fear the supplement industry is following the lead of the pharmaceutical industry and influencing healthcare at a political level with the use of money for their own ends.

A sad state of affairs that needs to be corrected, with the needs of patients and good medicine in mind.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2005 at 4:33AM
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A key differerence benefiting the supplement manufacturers is their ability (so far) to avoid most regulatory oversight and sell unproven and poor quality products.

Whether this changes depends on adequate public and Congressional response, which may not occur until there are additional, and more severe cases like those involving ephedra supplements.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2005 at 8:51AM
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Judy says that I am wrong, but does not explain about what I am wrong. She says, "Traute is wrong, the herbs banned in Canada are truly banned, neither drug companies nor herbal companies can sell them."

I am not concerned about that. Of course, it is easy for the government to control the manufacture and sale of herbs. I very rarely buy a herb anyway. I have always grown my own herbs or have collected them in the wild. When the government bans a plant, it makes growing it illegal. In Manitoba, if a neighbor reports a grower to the weed inspector, he is obligated to come onto your property to eradicate it.

It is not, however, possible for the government to control growing a banned plant which is found wild all over the country. Wormwood grows freely along every railroad track. The dry seeds are easily carried by the wind whenever a train passes. It also grows on all neglected waste sites, especially dry ones with poor quality soil. How is the government going to control that?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2006 at 5:01PM
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Ya know the fda will say so much negative stuff about herbs when there man-made crap kills thousands every day. Who is dumb enough to think that taking synthetics is good for a persons body?

Its all about money and herbs doesnt give them or the government any money.

They like toxic herbs that they can regulate like Catharanthus roseus which they get vinblastine from, but if its a herb that you can safely use and dont need a chemist to extract they dont want anything to do with it because they cant make money off it such as St. johns wort..and also Cannabis(marijuana)..etc

Humans evolved to eat plants whether it is a herb, an apple, olive oils..etc. They didnt evolve to take mad made pills. As far as ephedra is concerned it has killed such a small number of people its not even worth mentioning when compared to how many people the FDA's untested synthetic crap as killed.

Ephedra sinica /Ma Huang has been used in chinese medicine safely for 2,000 years yet a few idiots in america dont use it right and in a high dose and then die from taking it you ever think that maybe its because...

Americans are just plain stupid.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 11:53PM
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"Humans evolved to eat plants whether it is a herb, an apple, olive oils..etc. They didnt evolve to take mad made pills."

Plants evolved to reproduce and thrive, often by producing chemical constituents that make them taste bad or are actively toxic to animals that would otherwise eat them. Some of these chemicals (like ricin) are among the most toxic substances in the world. A partial list of chemicals found in plants (from the Cornell University Poisonous Plants database):


Indole Alkaloids ( Beta-carbolines etc.)
Polycyclic Diterpene

Propylene glycol


Calcinogenic Glycosides
Cardiac Glycosides
Glucosinolates (Goitrogenic Glycosides)
Isoflavones and Coumestans
Nitroglycosides (Nitropropanol Glycosides)

Fungal Tremorgens
Cinnamic Acid
Amylase Inhibitors


None of this means that all plants are toxic, just that we need to treat plants and the extracts/drugs derived from them with respect and caution, in the same way that we regard synthetic pharmaceuticals. "Natural" does not mean "safe".

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 12:42PM
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Do you know that it is now legal to sell Absinthe in the USA and that you can grow wormwood Artemisia absinthium in your garden(but check with your state's ag dept. first)? I would drink Absinthe if "the concentration of thujone falls within the current TTB standard for thujone screening: 10ppm, roughly 10mg per liter, which is the European Union standard." (from "The Wormwood Society"web site). No way would I drink any home-made wormwood tea...who knows how much thujone that contains! See the Youtube vidios on Absinthe...Absinthe segment from Modern Marvels(recorded before Absinthe was re-legalized in the USA) is very interesting.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 3:11PM
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You're crazy if you grow that stuff in California, unless you want a. absinthum everywhere. I will never plant it again. I am sure my neighbors are still weeding it too.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2008 at 11:58AM
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