2013-11-08

Beware the Untested Drug

Herbal Supplements may not Have Herbal Supplements in Them

This week, the New York Times reported one of the most interesting health articles:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/science/herbal-supplements-are-often-not-what-they-seem.html?src=me&_r=0

Someone took 44 bottles of various herbal supplements and analyzed the DNA in the herbal supplement in each bottle.

In one-third of all the bottles tested, the DNA revealed there was no herb present that the label promised would be in the bottle.

For example, one bottle of echinacea, had no echinacea in it, only rice.  Rice was a common substitute, as were various weeds, and even plants that could cause harm.   Bottles with no herbal remedy in them included bottles of ginko balboa.

In our view, herbal supplements should be held to the same standard as any drug, namely:
1.  Does it work?
2.  Is it safe?

For us the answer has to be yes to #1 for sure, and it has to be safe enough to justify use if it works.

Herbal supplements have been given a pass on both questions, very few have been tested to see if they work, and often when they are tested they are found to be powerless.

The price paid for pretending is now upon us.   In this study, 1/3 of the herbal supplements were frank frauds, the worse type of scams- the label promises you are buying one thing, but the truth is you are buying powdered rice or lawn weeds that have no relation to the herb you seek.


BOTTOM LINE
Herbal supplements were recently tested using DNA analysis proving that in 1/3 of the samples, there was no trace of the herb promised on the label.

This is yet more reason to value actual proof that something works before believing it works.

It turns out it is very hard to find substances that reliably can end a problem.

Dr. Lavin





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