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Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

Posted by eric_oh 6a (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 4, 07 at 10:13

A new study calls into question the selling of individualized herbal "cocktails":

"Dr Canter's review, published in today's Postgraduate Medical Journal, found there was an almost total absence of evidence for any benefit from the tailored herbal cocktails prepared by herbalists, including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic practitioners.

At least 1,000 herbalists are registered in the UK, but many more are unregistered, said Dr Canter. Anyone can set themselves up as a herbalist."

It makes sense that the greater the number of herbs mixed into these stews, the greater the potential for allergic reactions and herb-herb/herb-drug interactions.

The use of these mixes is reminiscent of practices of centuries past, when perhaps one effective herb was combined with a horde of inert, useless and potentially harmful components (as in the case of heart remedies which were found to have one active ingredient - digitalis.

As the report indicates, another problem is that the greater the number of ingredients in a mix, the greater the chance that one or more elements will be mislabeled or contaminated (which is why I'd stay away from any mix imported from places like China and India, made under even more lax regulatory conditions than those prevailing in the U.S.).


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

Typical herbal bashing, with the typical logical inconsistencies.

On one hand, there is the claim that synergies are unproven (and presumably imaginary). On the other hand, you talk about the increased risks of herb-herb interactions (which are in fact synergies, or 'working-togethers').

On one hand, herbs are dismissed as having no value. On the other hand, they are condemned as potentially powerful drugs that should only be taken under the supervision of doctors.

Here's a quote from an article titled "Evolution of medical treatment for endometriosis: back to the roots?" from 7 researchers at the University of Vienna's Division of Gynecological Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine:

" ... our review highlights the anti-inflammatory and pain-alleviating mechanisms of action of herbal remedies. Medicinal herbs and their active components exhibit cytokine-suppressive, COX-2-inhibiting, antioxidant, sedative and pain-alleviating properties. Each of these mechanisms of action would be predicted to have salutary effects in endometriosis. ...

A potential benefit of herbal therapy is the likelihood of synergistic interactions within individual or combinations of plants."

The biggest issue related to 'unproven' is the fact that it is 'unresearched' by modern medicine. While not all treatments will ultimately pan out, there is far more substance to herbal medicine than suggested by the first post in this thread.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

If you take the trouble to read the paper, Ernst isn't "bashing herbs" - he's saying that there's practically no evidence that these complex herbal preparations mixed up for individual patients (often by "herbalists" with questionable training) have any effectiveness.

To be smart consumers of herbs and supplements (and for that matter, prescription drugs), we have more tools than ever to educate ourselves about what works, what doesn't, and what side effects and interactions we can take precautions against. This also means being able to critically look at research - to separate quality controlled studies in humans from anecdotes and preliminary work in test tubes or rodents.

Some folks would like to have it both ways - praising science when it supports some facet of "alternative" medicine, and attacking it when it debunks a cherished claim. But in order to get the best medicine possible, you've got to take the good with the bad.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

I AM NEW TI THIS FORUM AND AM SEARCHING TO FIND PEOPLE INTERESTED IN HERBS AND HOW THEY CAN HELP US .... I M TIRED OF HEARING OF ALL THE DIFFERENT MAN MADE PILLS AND POTIONS THAT PEOPLE THESE DAYS ARE PRESCRIBED WHICH VERY OFTEN JUST COVER UP THE PROBLEM RATHER THAN GETTING TO THE ROOT OF IT AND HELPING IT...THAT IS WHY I HAVE STARTED LOOKIN INTO THE HERBAL DRINK CALLED ALVEO....AND HAVE SEEN POSITIVE CHANGES TO MY BODY AND WANT TO SHARE IT WITH OTHERS...THIS IS A LITTLE ARTICLE FROM ONE OF THE FOUNDERS OF ALVEO WHO GOT SERIOUS AFTER HIS WIFE WAS ILL AND HE WAS DESPERATE TO HELP HER.....

Dear readers
Throughout my years of practicing naturopathy and homeopathy,
I have found that almost all of my patients were greatly lacking in
essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. To treat my patients
concerns meant prescribing herbs, vitamins and minerals. The
drawback that everyone always seems to have when taking
either the above mentioned remedies, or synthetic prescriptions,
is the same: a.) too many pills to take, and b.) forgetting to take
them regularly in order to receive optimal benefits. Often Ive
heard them remark how they wish that they could have one
product one that could encompass all the needed nutrients.
Realizing the importance of creating a product that will be
appropriate for everyone, and one that each person will derive
benefit from through using it on a daily basis, we at AKUNA
understand that this product must have a good taste and should
be comprised of the most natural and superior ingredients
available containing an optimum level of nutrients, acting as a
preventative for all who consume it, strengthening the immune
system, and aiding in the removal of all the ever increasing
pollutants entering into our bodies on a daily basis.
After years of research, analysis and testing, ALVEO has been
perfected and is now made available to you, your family, and
friends. ALVEO is a 100% natural herbal drink, blended from 26
of the worlds most reputable and proven herbs, which are each
unique in their properties.

Dr. S. Khoshbin


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

Overlooking for the moment that the above is spam, let's look at what the promoter of this drink has to say.

"Dear readers
Throughout my years of practicing naturopathy and homeopathy

Warning sign #1.

I have found that almost all of my patients were greatly lacking in essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

This is a common dodge used to sell unnecessary supplements. One would never encounter "almost all" of one's patients on modern diets "greatly lacking" in nutrients unless they coincidentally all had problems like chronic blood loss leading to iron deficiency or malabsorption due to small bowel disease, neither of which a naturopath/homeopath would typically be able to diagnose anyway.

The drawback that everyone always seems to have...is the same: a.) too many pills to take, and b.) forgetting to take them regularly...Often Ive heard them remark how they wish that they could have one
product one that could encompass all the needed nutrients.

Wish no longer - buy multivitamins. Available much more cheaply than this drink.

We understand that this product must have a good taste and should be comprised of the most natural and superior ingredients available containing an optimum level of nutrients, acting as a preventative for all who consume it, strengthening the immune system, and aiding in the removal of all the ever increasing pollutants entering into our bodies on a daily basis.

The usual buzzwords about the immune system and nasty toxins in the body - without evidence that problems in these areas exist in people on normal diets or that the product being promoted can help.

After years of research, analysis and testing

Any of it published and reviewed by nutrition experts? Doubtful.

ALVEO is a 100% natural herbal drink, blended from 26
of the worlds most reputable and proven herbs

Good, we don't want any of those disreputable herbs in our drinks.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

Eric,

I did take the trouble to read the article that you linked to, and I find myself wondering if YOU have read that article.

I find it hard to believe that article wasn't herb bashing - while it makes a few good points here and there, it did call for a ban on multiherb combinations while suggested that many single herbs should be available by prescription only.

And it wasn't science. It was some selected bits of science hacked together to support a policy agenda.

My favorite bizzare statement from the article came after it was stated that Saint Johns Wort can be effective for depression: "A depressed patient who takes St John's wort and comes out of depression arguably gathers enough strength to commit suicide, so it is dangerous."

So St. Johns wort is effective against depression, but shouldn't be available because it makes people feel better, and they might kill themselves if they get better?

I know that there has been talk about a few patients (on SSRI's like Prozac) committing suicide during the first month of therapy. But there is no science to show that this is either a common phenomenon, or that it is caused by gaining strength or lifting the depression.

One recent study showed that a reduction in the use of antidepressants among the young has led to a large increase in suicides since the scare over the (unproven) 'gaining strength to commit suicide' theory was made popular. And we don't know that the risk of suicide from SSRIs is from gaining strength - it may be from an initial disturbance in the neurotransmitters that occur before some patients truly improve. Many people tolerate SSRIs well, but it is recognized that a sizeable percent experience agitation, mood swings, nerve 'zaps' and other symptoms when going on or off SSRIs. And no one has ever documented that this occurs from St. Johns wort, which has a rather different mode of action than SSRIs. Studies that have done a heads-up comparison of St. Johns wort with a traditional anti-depressant found that SJW was far better tolerated.

The article you supplied a link to is filled with flawed logic, dubious extrapolations, faulty generalizations, and (sometimes not so well) hidden assumptions that herbs and patients cannot be trusted, only doctors can. This pseudoscientific claptrap does a disservice to patients and the medical community.

But not suprising that you would post it - your reason for being here is to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about herbs.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

"(the article) did call for a ban on multiherb combinations while suggested that many single herbs should be available by prescription only."

No. The article itself did not call for anything, but reported on a research paper that found that individualized herb "cocktails" prepared by people calling themselves herbalists were ineffective, and potentially hazardous. The authors of the study do think that these individualized mixtures should be banned, but did not say anything about over the counter preparations that might contain more than one herb.
And Dr. Ernst did not argue that "many" herbs should be available by prescription, but specifically called into question products sold to treat serious heart conditions and depression. I don't agree with him on making St. John's wort a prescription drug, but he has a point on the hazards of self-treating depression without professional monitoring (the phenomenon of patients committing suicide early in their treatment course is well known), along with SJW's interactions with other medication. It's not a supplement to be taken casually.

As for multiherb mixtures, the practitioners that make these up for individual patients are in effect practicing herbal medicine for money. They should be qualified through adequate studies and experience (I'll bet daisyduckworth would agree with me here) and not get away with setting up shop as an "herbalist" with nothing more than a degree bought over the Internet (or not even that).

"...your reason for being here is to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt about herbs."

My "reason for being here" is to share information and learn about herbs, both the good and the bad, and to support evidence-based herbalism as complementary therapy - not as a springboard to attack all of mainstream medicine. Some people don't like this view. As I said previously, I'm disappointed to see you fall into the trap of treating disagreement as an opportunity to make personal attacks, as you otherwise have something to offer this forum.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

OOPS MY ARTICLE WAS NOT SPAM....SO I APOLOGISE IF HAS CAUSED OFFENSE....I ACTUALLY HAVE EXPERIENCED THE BENEFITS OF HERBS IN MANY WAYS BUT PARTICULARLY THAT ON MY IMMUNE SYSTEM...A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO I SUFFERED OF FLUS AND VIRUSES PRETTY MUCH NONE STOP ..EVEN IN THE SUMMER....THEY WOULD LAST 1,2,3 WEEKS THEN I WOULD IF I WAS LUCKY BE OK FOR 1,2 WEEKS BEFORE GOING DOWN WITH SOMETHING ELSE ESP A REOCCURENT COUGH THAT WOULD BE RELIEVED BY NOTHING(I TRIED EVERYTHING) HOWEVER I STARTED LOOKING INTO HERBS AND HOW THEY CAN HELP....IT TOOK A FEW MONTHS BEFORE I BEGAN TO SEE REAL DIFFERENCES BUT NOW I RARELY GET A COLD AND STRONGLY BELIEVE IN THE HEALING QUALITIES OF HERBAL COCKTAILS....I M PLEASED PEOPLE LIKE DR KOSCHBIN RESEARCHED ALL THIS FOR HIS ILL WIFE...BUT DIDN'T MEAN TO OFFEND ANYONE SORRY....JUST SAW THE QUESTION AND THOUGHT IT LOOKED INTERESTING...THANK YOU


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

I don't think I have fallen into any trap ... merely lost patience with an agenda driven sophist. If we applied your same one sided logic and absolute standards to mainstream medicine, then it too would fail.

Consider this 2007 article that found "No systematic review or meta-analysis using a hard outcome has been conducted on the role of benzodiazepines for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)."

Using this highest "Scientific" standard of proof that you insist on using for all herbs, we must conclude that doctors have written millions of prescriptions for addicting drugs with a risk of real side effects, and without absolute certainty that they really help people (at least until this study came out last month). And even then, the study does not confirm the efficacy of the most common prescribing pattern (of using benzos for short term use). The study also suggested 3 different possible explanations for their findings, suggesting that they don't really understand it all. Which is to say that most doctors have not been rational on this issue.

Of course, there are lab experiments that show that benzos can help with anxiety (but people are not rats, you object!). And there are several studies on humans that show they help (the design of which many can be criticized). Along with anecdotal evidence from patients that may have noticed rapid improvement (Placebo! It could be placebo!) and clinical experience of doctors (that's medical art, not medical science!).

Of course, I don't think there is any question that benzos can be of benefit for GAD. But anyone who used your same methods would have found a reason to ignore all the evidence that benzos really can help with the disorder, and then criticized their use as 'unproven' while focusing on the side effects and possibly invoking horror stories that 'prove' that many doctors don't understand anxiety.

So, yes, I will accuse you of having and agenda and applying a double standard. I will describe you as someone who routinely goes beyond science and what is known. It's not that I'm making a personal attack on you; I am merely describing patterns of behaviour that you display again and again on this board. When someone posts something, you most often attempt to negate it, usually without consulting the research.

Here is a link that might be useful: Review: Benzodiazepines in generalized anxiety disorder:


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

"Consider this 2007 article that found "No systematic review or meta-analysis using a hard outcome has been conducted on the role of benzodiazepines for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)."

This is an herbalism forum. The subject of the thread is the lack of demonstrated efficacy and safety of individualized herbal mixtures. No one is urging the use of benzodiazepines.

Resort to irrelevant attacks on mainstream medicine (as well as personal attacks on other posters) are standard distraction tactics used by some alternative medicine proponents. Resorting to them is an indication that one has lost the debate.

Any new information bearing on the subject of this thread is welcome.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

Misieu - are you quite sure your 'flus' and colds weren't a matter of seasonal allergies, possibly in a particular locale, and that a few months into winter (a less allergic season) you felt better because it was winter, and not because of any concoctions you took? Many people fall into the trap of believing they're ill when in fact they are experiencing common seasonal problems instead.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

  • Posted by cacye Denver,CO (My Page) on
    Wed, Apr 2, 08 at 2:16

I would like to thank apollog for taking on eric oh. I have not liked him much on this site. I admit I have had problems with doctors for years because I have Morgellons; If he was doing this forum before the CDC took it on with Kaiser Permanente he would have probably supported findings of delusional parasitosis without even checking to see if these diagnoses met DSM criteria. Thank you, I appreciate you.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

Morgellons what?


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

"Morgellons" is a term first used by the mother of a child with an unexplained skin condition, and has found general use among patients with a constellation of symptoms, usually involving a rash said to be associated with certain colored fibers. Wikipedia quotes the 2007 Atlas of Human Parasitology as follows:

"Many dermatologists refute the suggestion that this is an actual disease but instead indicate that many of these patients have psychological problems or other common skin disorders. Given the large numbers of individuals who feel that they have this affliction, it will be most helpful over the coming years to have a valid scientific assessment of Morgellons diesease and its possible etiology (or etiologies). One of the chief criticisms by many patients has been that they feel the medical community and other scientists consulted have not been open to the idea that there is possibly an as yet undescribed infectious or physiologic causation for the disease. However it is certainly true that in fact many expert parasitologists, medical entomologists and other microbiologists have in fact carefully examined fibers and other materials expressed or extracted from such patients and found that biological organisms are not present. Although an apparent association of the condition with the presence of Lyme disease has been reported (Savely et al, 2006, Am J Clin Dermatol, 7:16), further research will be needed to help resolve the validity of Morgellons disease. Until then, whether Morgellons disease is another name for delusional parasitosis or a real disease entity with a biologic or physiologic basis will remain up in the air."

People who feel they have "Morgellons" often resent physicians for not validating it as a specific news disease and not being willing to treat it with antiparasite drugs (in the absence of evidence that there are any parasites).
The CDC recently started an investigation of the condition.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

  • Posted by cacye Denver,CO (My Page) on
    Thu, Apr 10, 08 at 5:09

Please see Dr. Randy S. Wymore's research at OSU. The CDC has teamed up with Kaiser Permanente to study the disease. I was at the conference in Austin Texas. The speaker Ginger Savely(FNP-C) said that over 90 per cent of the people she has seen for Morgellons have tested positive for Lyme disease. Dr. Raphael Strickler, past president of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society and a recipient of the American Medical Association Award for Physician Exellence supported her position and findings. If Lyme is not involved, then the ELISA tests generally used for it are certainly cross-reactive. Since over 300 significant infectious diseases have been discovered since 1940, and since a significant number of diseases have become antibiotic resistant, I believe it is time we became more open to the uses of herbs. Now as in the past, researchers are not usually the first to discover an herbal chemical that cures an illness. Studies are usually based on herbs already in use by other cultures(see the current use of artemesia spp. for malaria,for instance. Chinese extracts of these plants have been used for hundreds of years against malaria and are shown to be effective). This is just one of a few herbs that are used with success for many problems worldwide. One of the major reasons herbs are used so often worldwide is that drugs are too expensive for most people. I have been to Haiti, for instance, and seen that a large number of people live in shacks and have no decent water, much less access to expensive drugs. The conditions there are as bad as conditions throughout the third world and need to be addressed. In the meantime, the things we learn here using herbs can be the forefront to new things that help all of us. Herb and drug interactions do not need necessarily to be negative things. As adjustments are made we can find combinations to help improve the lives of everyone, not just those of us in developed nations.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

While "Morgellons" doesn't have anything to do with the subject of this thread (custom herbal mixtures and the hazards they may pose), this statement warrants a response:

"If Lyme is not involved, then the ELISA tests generally used for it are certainly cross-reactive."

Yes - the ELISA test for Lyme results in so many false positives that it is used only as a basic screening test, with more specific assays (i.e. the Western blot) used to confirm disease. Using ELISA results alone to try to demonstrate a link between Lyme disease and the bizarre constellation of symptoms that "Morgellons" patients report, would not be good science.

No herbal "cocktails" (or individual herbs for that matter) have been demonstrated to be effective against Lyme or "Morgellons" either. The antiparasite drugs or antibiotics that "Morgellons" patients often seek have no proven effectiveness either, although you could find people who seem to have improved after taking various sorts of drugs, including antipsychotic medications.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

i wanted to make a comment on certain herbs being prescription only from a earlier comment. see this is what is making me sick. pharma. companies make billions off of many and yet the money is not really there for the all research on natural things is this because there no profit in it for them. could this be why some day here soon the way things are going we wont even be able to pick up a mutivitimin from the local store because we need a script. and what about other countries that are using herbs and things to cure people. if you want to know my opinion take cancer for instance i believe theres already a cure out there but there is no PROFIT in healthy people.


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"pharma. companies make billions off of many and yet the money is not really there for the all research on natural things is this because there no profit in it for them."

This is incorrect. Lots of research into herbs, vitamins and other "natural" treatments has been done and continues to be funded through government grants and private monies. You can search here to find articles on all sorts of scientific research involving herbs and other therapies. Also, the U.S. government funds research into alternative therapies through The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Drug companies routinely investigate and develop plant-derived remedies. It's a myth that promising "natural" therapies don't attract research funding.

"the way things are going we wont even be able to pick up a mutivitimin from the local store because we need a script"

Another myth. This is often heard from supplement companies using scare tactics to try to defeat any proposals to ensure that the herbs and supplements we buy are safe and effective. We've heard many claims in this forum in recent years about alleged plans here and abroad to prevent us from getting these products. All such allegations have proven false.

"if you want to know my opinion take cancer for instance i believe theres already a cure out there but there is no PROFIT in healthy people."

If you thought about this, you'd realize how ridiculous this sounds. Anyone finding a major new cancer cure would be famous and make lots of money. There's enormous incentive to develop effective new treatments - however cancer in its many forms is tough to fight. There have always been and will continue to be quack cures sold by unscrupulous and deluded people, who claim that their remedies would be widely accepted except that "THEY don't want you to know" (THEY being defined as doctors, researchers, the government, Big Pharma - anyone who can be lumped into some imagined conspiracy).

Don't you think that physicians, cancer researchers, health care workers and others involved in the daily fight against cancer would love to find and use more effective cures? Don't you think they, their loved ones and friends suffer from these diseases too?

It takes a truly bizarre frame of mind to believe that all these dedicated people would want to harm themselves and others by concealing a cancer cure.


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many herbal treatments have not been researched and therefore "validated" by modern medicine, but that doesnt mean they dont work. whether it is prescription or herbal medicine that gives you the results you need, I dont think it really matters. There is much that doctors do not know about substances, or even proven medical therapies, so if something works for you, then I don't think it needs to necessarily be proven, that may come in time, but we're not idiots, we know what works for each of us, and it may not have the science (yet) to back it up, and we may not know why something is working, but we know when we see the results.

I am seeing a specialist at the moment who told me a story the other day. she said she went to an international conference on something (I can't remember what), and there was a particular side effect of a medication that was listed by the speaker as "unrelated" to the medication. It wasnt until another doctor put up their hand to say they had the same side effect of the drug that things got going, by the time the lecture finished, there were 25 "experts" who also reported the same "unrelated" side effect. what she was saying to me, is that it's not until a bunch of doctors concur that they start to question something, and that she basically has an open mind to these things because of that. I told her of a particular positive effect I was having, and she said she had heard of that symptom before from other patients, but I was the first person to tell her it got better because of such and such treatment. She is an expert in her field, and it was very reassuring that she keeps such an open mind. many of us I'm sure could tell of doctors telling us "that's not posssible", or "that is not listed as as side effect etc".

my point is, we should never forget that science is only a small way along the process of understanding the human body and how it responds to many things, so while doctors like to make us feel silly at times, trust your own judgement as well, your own experiences may not been proven yet, but it may also be a matter of time before science accepts what many people already report, whether it be prescription or herbal medications. Just because something hasn't been proven, does not make it untrue.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

On the other hand: what if the physician in your example collected several examples of a drug side effect from her patients, then started warning everyone of the problem and wrote articles about it, only to discover later on that the patients with the side effect were actually taking other drugs and supplements, and the drug she was blaming was not responsible for the condition?

That's part of the problem with testimonials - very often we don't have all the information we need to make judgments about a drug, supplement or therapy solely based on one or a few anecdotes. Personal biases and use of undisclosed therapies are other problems (we've had people in this forum swearing that some supplement was responsible for them losing weight, while not crediting their low-calorie diet for the changes. Others believe an alternative therapy cured their cancer, not the surgery or chemotherapy they also had). People also claim they were cured of cancer by a particular therapy, when it was never established that they had cancer in the first place (i.e. those who try to burn off their undiagnosed skin lesions with "black salve").

"my point is, we should never forget that science is only a small way along the process of understanding the human body and how it responds to many things"

I'd rephrase this to say that testimonials and anecdotes are only a small step towards understanding the human body and disease. They can form a starting point for investigation, but are no substitute for good research including clinical trials.

"Just because something hasn't been proven, does not make it untrue"

You might want to read this.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

comment to eric on the thats ridicious on the cancer cure opinion and that someone would become famous and rich. NOTICE SOMEONE as greedy as the pharm. companys is and others as much money as they make from sick people do you really think it would be that easy for one person to take all the credit and become that rich. and im allow an opinion. im wondering if you have nothening to do but sit around each day making bold comments about things and it seem to be like you stick up alot for the people that people are complaining or making comments about. i cant help but to wonder who you really are and if you have so much facts and knowledge on things why are you spending so much energy on bashing peoples comments/opinions .and as far as research i wasnt not saying that there isnt quit a bit of money for research on nature things and esp. now thats certain people are wanting and fighting for control on things we can purchase at a store with no script.BUT COMPARE TO THE PHARMA. COMPANIES THERE IS NO COMPARISON ON THE MONEY THEY MAKE OR HAVE. and as far as the NO PROFIT FOR THEM that is a true statement and that is why more work and money is trying to be put into progress w/ so many people switching over to natural things they are going to have to do something and trust me they dont want to lose control over people or MONEY. AS FAR AS bizzare on docs. and people in that field hiddening cures for things. WELL THEY CANT THOS CERTAIN PEOPLE HIDE THINGS THEY DONT NO NOW CAN THEY. like i mention earlier this mostly is my observation / opinion in which i and others are allowed.i to have always believed never believe everything you hear so called facts cant always be believed either no matter what the source just my opinion.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

"They can form a starting point for investigation, but are no substitute for good research including clinical trials."

that's true, but the problem is that by the time science fully understands the human body and how different substances affect it, we'll all be dead and buried. ;)

sure, a healthy bit of scepticism is necessary, but if something is working to treat an ailment, then it makes no sense to stop using it and wait how ever many years it takes for someone to study and confirm the effect. I'm sure many studies have been prompted by anecdotal evidence, because when many people report the same thing, there is usually something there. Even when trials are done on drugs, they rely on people to report back any side effects, this isnt really any different to "anecdotal", they are just going by what people tell them and there are probably many side effects which are dismissed because they dont "appear" to relate to the medication (in other words, the those studying the results can not understand the connection). Not all medicine is based on clear fact, much of it is also based on assumption and also interpretation of data and considering how much is not known by science, some of those assumptions will also be wrong.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

"the problem is that by the time science fully understands the human body and how different substances affect it, we'll all be dead and buried. ;) "

So, since there isn't a cure for all disorders right now, we should just try anything and everything that has ever gotten a glowing testimonial from somebody posting on the Internet or in an ad, and hope for the best?

Or maybe we need to take some responsibility for our health and wise use of health care dollars, and expend the necessary effort to judge the quality of evidence supporting any drug or therapy before we use it?


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

i dont think anyones thinking we should try everything esp. on a few people results of using something.there is nothening wrong w/ doing as much research as possible tho takening in ones experiences that maybe mention and make the best discision possible. there isnt anymore harm in that then putting drugs out on the market that ended up getting pull off shortly there after because of cost of life or other damaging things to ones body.theres are cases were people have taken kava kava for instance that causes liver damage well you can take a new drug that may causes that or your life or something else that was put out on the market as safe enough. i can tell you know if i was dieing of something that theres was not a scientific cure for i would not go that easy esp. if it was one of my children. i would research everything whether it be from another country all natural herbal or whatever. does it mean i would start taking everything of course not.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

It is probably safer to take the average herbal cocktail and give nature time to work a natural cure through the placebo effect than it is to seek medical help, in many cases. Doctors are so afraid of being sued these days that they will often order tests which have the potential to cause harm, either through radiation, puncture, or infection acquired during a procedure. Additionally, some of the "cures" being offered today are so horrible that, really, all that is being offered is a prolonged death.
I am not certain I would want to avail myself of the current "cures" for cancer, for example. The stress of the process itself would be enough to do me in.

Although there are exceptions, medical doctors as a whole no longer put the time into their patients to reassure and comfort them in a manner that would allow the placebo effect to result. If other practitioners are able to provide this, I don't think it should be resented or interfered with.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

From the initial post:

""Dr Canter's review, published in today's Postgraduate Medical Journal, found there was an almost total absence of evidence for any benefit from the tailored herbal cocktails prepared by herbalists, including traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic practitioners."

When a drug doesn't work as claimed and one is left to rely on placebo effect, it had better be ultra-safe. The problems with "herbal cocktails" (misbranding, contamination, drug interactions etc.) increase the odds that people taking them will be hurt twice - first, by not having their symptoms relieved, and second, by damaging side effects.


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RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

Can you maintain that all of the procedures and medications--and medical practitioners--reach the level of safety you are demanding of herbal products?

Admittedly they should be held to a standard where that is possible. Herbs are not created in the laboratory, though, and there will be variations.

Medical doctors and their medicines and procedures are not uniformly safe, either, as we have recently seen in regard to components from China in medications in the US and South America.

Additionally, if the placebo effect was being elicited it would not tend to show up in a sterile laboratory test.

I would not, unlike some others on here, necessarily choose herbalism as my first answer to an ailment, but if all else fails it is an emotionally comforting fall back.


 o
RE: Herbal 'cocktails' questioned

Prescription medications are subject to much higher standards of testing and scrutiny over efficacy than are herbal products. Mainstream medical practitioners are also regulated and scrutinized to a much higher degree than alternative practitioners.

"Medical doctors and their medicines and procedures are not uniformly safe, either, as we have recently seen in regard to components from China in medications in the US and South America."

This is also a problem with herbs and supplements imported from China, India and other countries. Contamination with harmful herbs (such as aristolochia), heavy metals and pesticides have occurred. Recently, supplements from China have been found to contain anabolic steroids and harmful microbes like cryptosporidium. Ginseng supplements provide another example of hazards due to unregulated products from abroad:

"Contamination with the pesticides hexachlorobenzene and/or quintozene was found in eight of twelve products labeled to contain "Korean Ginseng" but was not found among the other ginseng products tested. Among these eight contaminated products, levels of quintozene and hexachlorobenzene were as much as twenty times higher than allowed by guidelines published by the United States Pharmacopeia and the European Pharmacopeia, and two of these products also contained significant levels of lead."

More recent testing of ginseng supplements has documented continued problems with poor or no ingredients, and lead contamination.

Returning to the subject of this thread (complex herbal mixtures), it stands to reason that the more ingredients there are in an unregulated product, the greater the chance of unwanted substitutions and contamination.

When we hear about (or experience) poor quality or dangerous herbs and supplements, should our response be "well, some prescription drugs can hurt you, too" or "We deserve safe, effective herbs and supplements"?


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