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Posts Tagged ‘hazards’

Hello everyone, first I would like to wish everyone a happy & healthy new year. And now for more about herbs.

Unfortunately herbal medicines are the victims of a double standard. Generally, doctors & the public believe that pharmaceuticals are more trustworthy than herbs because, they are more tightly regulated by the FDA. In many cases, these supposed  tight pharmaceutical regulations deliver a  little more than an illusion of safety. There has been evidence that the use of prescription pharmaceuticals within FDA prescribing guidelines are responsible for more than 100,000 US deaths a year & more than 2 million serious adverse reactions.

Pharmaceutical companies are required by the FDA to conduct clinical trials to demonstrate the safety & effectiveness of new drugs but most of these trials only involve a few thousand people. What about the side effects in 1 in 10,000 people? Or 50,000 or 1 million. These statistics don’t show up until the drug has become widely used. Did you know that within 5 years of approval, an estimated 50% of pharmaceuticals have revised their  label to include other side effects —  some of them being potentially serious– that were discovers after the drug was released.

Yes it is true that herbal medicines may not be as highly regulated as pharmaceuticals but they have much  longer histories of use, decades, centuries, even millennia. They have withstood the test of time. Ok, so every once in a while you will find some age-old herb that turns out to pose a new hazard such as the potentially damaging pyrrolizidine alkaloids in comfrey. But these findings are rare compared to the many side effects that have been found in recently approved pharmaceuticals.

Another side to the double standard concerning herb safety has to do with the media. Because herbal medicines are less known than pharmaceuticals to the majority of experts that the media turns to for health information, these authorities tend to be anxious about the safety of herbs & overstate the hazards of herbs. Because these same authorities are more familiar with pharmaceuticals the tend to understate the hazards of them.

That’s why the reports of relatively minor herb hazards have a tendency  to generate bigger headlines and persist in the media. By comparison, reports of drug hazards will make the headlines for a day then are forgotten. An example of these reports is the fact that pharmaceuticals are the nation’s 4th leading cause of death. Seriously how can this be so over looked?

Now with more people with a greater variety of medical conditions are starting to use herbal medicines in combination with pharmaceuticals, some new problems are bound to occur. A good example is the interaction between St. John’s Wort & several drugs. It will cause some pharmaceuticals not to work properly.  Herbs should  always be used cautiously, especially by people who are taking other medications for chronic conditions. However, when used right, herbal medicines are gentler & safer than pharmaceuticals.

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