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Magnus Eisengrim
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...might not be so pure as their producers claim. From CBC


Quote:
A DNA test of herbal products has found that most of them contained cheaper fillers and plant ingredients not listed on the label, some of which pose "serious health risks."

Researchers at the University of Guelph used DNA barcode testing to test 44 herbal products from 12 companies. DNA barcoding uses a short sequence of DNA from a standard segment in plants to identify the species rapidly and accurately.

"Product substitution occurred in 20/44 of the products tested and only 2/12 companies had products without any substitution, contamination or fillers," Steven Newmaster, an integrative biology professor at the University of Guelph and his co-authors concluded in Friday's issue of the journal BMC Medicine.

"Some of the contaminants we found pose serious health risks to consumers."

The World Health Organization calls adulteration of herbal products a threat to consumer safety.

Echinacea capsules
Medicinal herbs such as Echinacea are the fastest growing segment of the North American alternative medicine market, but there are no best practices for identifying the various ingredients, researchers say. (iStock)

In the study, one product labelled as St. John's wort contained Senna alexandrina, a plant with laxative properties. S. alexandrina isn't meant for prolonged use as it can cause chronic diarrhea and liver damage, and a study suggests it can interact with immune cells in the colon.

Several herbal products contained Parthenium hysterophorus (feverfew), which can cause swelling and numbness in the mouth, oral ulcers and nausea. It also reacts with medications metabolized by the liver and may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if taken with blood-thinning medications, the researchers said.

One ginkgo product was contaminated with Juglans nigra (black walnut), which could be dangerous for people with nut allergies.

Newmaster's team said the target crop may have been harvested along with walnut leaves that contain a toxic compound.

The tests identified several potential fillers, including rice, soybean and grasses such as wheat that could pose a health concern for people allergic to those plants and for consumers seeking gluten-free products.

"Most of the herbal products tested were of poor quality, including considerable product substitution, contamination and use of fillers," the study's authors concluded.

Medicinal herbs are the fastest growing segment of the North American alternative medicine market, previous studies suggest.

But there are currently no best practices for identifying the species of various ingredients used in herbal products, the researchers said.

They're proposing that the herbal industry voluntarily use DNA barcoding to authenticate herbal products by testing raw materials to gain consumer confidence.

Canada has regulated natural health products since 2004, but a licensing backlog exists.


The scientific article is partially available here
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
Cliffg37
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Don't you hate when that happens?
Magic is like Science,
Both are fun if you do it right!
Michael Baker
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Aw, gee... you mean there isn't REALLY snake oil in that stuff??
~michael baker
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Dougini
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That is why you ahould know the growers and suppliers of your herbal products! Myself, I do. No, not just cannabis either. Lemon Balm and mint. Both are used in tea. Myself, I would stay away from anything not in its natural state. Like concentrated.

Myself, I find it is safest to try the leaf herb in a tea first. Ginkgo and St. John's wort, I have never understood the significance of, and Echinacea has never been really proven. For sleep, I have used Chamomile, Lemon Balm and Cannabis. My strain this month is White Fire Kush (also known as "Wifi"). Two or three bowls, I can be asleep in fifteen minutes.

If you are interested in growing your own herbal products, make sure you educate yourself thoroughly on their growth and use. Don't assume Lemon Balm won't hurt you. Know what works for you. Ginkgo, St. John's wort and Echinacea to me, ARE snake-oil remedies that so far... have not been proven to do anything. Chamomile and Lemon Balm HAVE been good performers.

I use Cannabis because I have Glaucoma. I use it to put me to sleep, though. It is so effective. There is no residual effect the next day, either. The Lemon Balm is milder. Has that herbal calming effect. Chamomile makes me sick. I don't know why. I can't do it. Besides, it tastes awful...

Doug
landmark
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Noted. But I'm not too excited.
Here are the possible side effects from the #1 most prescribed drug in the US, hydrocodone/acetominaphen:

Quote:
Increased risk of acute liver failure in patients with underlying liver disease. Hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis reported; d/c if signs/symptoms occur. May produce dose-related respiratory depression, and irregular and periodic breathing. Respiratory depressant effects and CSF pressure elevation capacity may be markedly exaggerated in the presence of head injury, other intracranial lesions or a preexisting increased intracranial pressure. May obscure diagnosis or clinical course of head injuries or acute abdominal conditions. Potential for abuse. Caution with hypothyroidism, Addison's disease, prostatic hypertrophy, urethral stricture, severe hepatic/renal impairment, or in elderly/debilitated. Suppresses the cough reflex; caution with pulmonary disease and in postoperative use. Physical dependence and tolerance may develop.


The #10 most prescribed drug, hydrochlorothiazide:
Quote:
WARNINGS/PRECAUTIONS

Caution with severe renal disease. May precipitate azotemia and cumulative effects may develop with impaired renal function. Caution with impaired hepatic function or progressive liver disease; may precipitate hepatic coma. May cause idiosyncratic reaction, resulting in acute transient myopia and acute angle-closure glaucoma; d/c as rapidly as possible. Fluid or electrolyte imbalance (eg, hyponatremia, hypochloremic alkalosis, hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia) may develop; monitor serum electrolytes periodically. Hypokalemia may develop, especially with brisk diuresis, with severe cirrhosis, or after prolonged therapy; may use K+-sparing diuretics, K+ supplements, or foods high in K+ to avoid or treat hypokalemia. Dilutional hyponatremia may occur in edematous patients in hot weather; appropriate therapy of water restriction rather than salt administration should be instituted except for life-threatening hyponatremia. Hyperuricemia may occur or acute gout may be precipitated. Hyperglycemia may occur. Latent diabetes mellitus (DM) may manifest. May decrease urinary Ca2+ excretion. D/C prior to parathyroid function tests. (Cap) Pathologic changes in parathyroid glands, with hypercalcemia and hypophosphatemia, observed on prolonged therapy. (Tab) Sensitivity reactions may occur. May exacerbate/activate systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Enhanced antihypertensive effects in postsympathectomy patients. Consider withholding or d/c therapy if progressive renal impairment becomes evident. May cause intermittent and slight elevation of serum Ca2+ in the absence of known disorders of calcium metabolism. May be associated with increases in cholesterol and TG levels.
ADVERSE REACTIONS

Weakness, hypotension (including orthostatic hypotension), pancreatitis, jaundice, diarrhea, vomiting, blood dyscrasias, rash, photosensitivity, electrolyte imbalance, impotence, renal dysfunction/failure, interstitial nephritis.

Yes one should keep clear of soy and other possible allergens, and some of the loose Chinese herbs have been found to have high levels of arsenic. But my guess is that someone whose main drugs are herbs is not at any more, and probably much less, risk than someone taking prescription drugs.
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2013-10-11 23:35, landmark wrote:


The #10 most prescribed drug, hydrochlorothiazide:



This has been one of my daily drugs for over 20 years. Without it, I would likely be dead now. The benefits, at least for me, seem to outweigh the risks.
~michael baker
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landmark
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No doubt, Michael. I'm sure it has helped many. My only point was that the same could be said for the herbal products, and on average I suspect the side effects are less harmful. Whether the benefits are equivalent is a whole other matter.
Magnus Eisengrim
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Landmark, I think that the bigger issue is that products contain ingredients that are not documented. The makers of herbals appear to have the same motivation as big pharma but without the regulations.
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
critter
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It seems that if someone wanted to use herbs for health reasons it would be best to buy them from the bulk section where you can scoop it yourself rather than buying little capsules with Buddha-Knows-What in them. A lot of times there are even fillers listed on the ingredients but people don't read them. I just can't see spending $10 on a bottle of pills which each have 5 grams of dried lawn clippings.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2013-10-12 01:02, Magnus Eisengrim wrote:
Landmark, I think that the bigger issue is that products contain ingredients that are not documented. The makers of herbals appear to have the same motivation as big pharma but without the regulations.


Money undiluted by ethics?
~michael baker
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