Herbal Medicine

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Aren’t herbal products safer than pharmaceutical drugs because they are made from natural ingredients?
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http://www.naturalmedicinesofnc.org/FAQs.html

While the pharmaceutical industry has made important progress in recent decades in developing reliable, effective medications, the emphasis on proving efficacy has often overshadowed safety issues. So, despite federal drug regulations, serious safety problems related to pharmaceutical drugs persist. For example, one in five patients seen in a clinic experiences serious side effects, mainly from antibiotics, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory drugs.(1)

Herbal products, although made from natural substances, are the forerunners of synthetic prescription drugs. Up to 25% of medications are derived directly or indirectly from naturally-occurring chemicals from plants, bacteria and fungi, or marine organisms. Like medications, herbal products have a biological action, which is why, in Europe, many herbal products are regulated as drugs.

Many herbal products are quite safe and fall into the realm of foods. Examples include gentle herbs, like chamomile and mint, and many of the western “tonic” herbs traditionally consumed as teas, such as nettles and green oats. Many of the herbs commonly used in cooking, have specific indications for the treatment of health conditions. For example, dill reduces gaseousness and colic in children, parsley has mild diuretic action (reduces excess fluid in the body), and ginger may reduce nausea.(2)

A few other herbs, termed “heroics”, have a history of adverse effects well-known to traditional herbalists and have been used specifically because of their toxic properties. (3) An example may be the use of bloodroot for treating skin cancers as popularized by Frederick Mohs, M.D.(4)
Most commonly used herbal products have both biological action and a low incidence of adverse effects and side effects.

Legislation is pending

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