Saturday, December 1, 2018

HERBAL MEDICINE - Part II - Four Differing Viewpoints

Arabic herbal medicine guidebook
Arabic herbal medicine guidebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This article continues the discussion of the philosophical background of herbal medicine by describing the four distinct points of view regarding the use of herbal remedies. A short bibliography is provided listing websites representative of each viewpoint.

The Herbalists
Most herbalists would concede that pharmaceuticals are often necessary for treating emergencies. A patient might need to be immediately sedated if he is thrashing about violently, to prevent him from injuring himself and others. However, in long-term treatments, herbs can provide resistance to disease, nutritional support, and other benefits that pharmaceuticals cannot match. They also contain many minor ingredients that may interact with the main ingredient, to support and enhance its function.

In doing research for this article, I examined the websites of several pharmaceutical companies. They provide a lot of information about their support for research into new medicines, but I could find no information at all indicating any interest in, or opinions on herbal medicine.
Pharmaceutical companies do, however, provide financial support for doctor's organizations who, in turn, advise caution to those who would consider using herbal products [3].

Vitamin & Mineral Manufacturers
These companies actively promote herbal supplements. At times their products are even supported with articles written by herbalists. However, a disclaimer is always included for legal reasons:
"This statement has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease." [4]

Governmental Entities
Herbal supplements are regulated in the US by the Food & Drug Administration as foods, and consequently, do not have the same rigorous review processes as new drugs. Recently, however, new regulations require more stringent safety practices in their manufacture to ensure that they are free of contaminants and that they contain what their labels say they do.

Many countries, the US, UK, and Australia, for example, have governmental organizations who are charged with studying herbal medicines scientifically. These institutions are beginning to provide some insight into identifying the active ingredients in herbs, and are studying how they affect the body.

They also advise caution in the use of herbal products, but their warnings [5] are not as stringently worded as those propounded by physicians.
Bibliography (2007)

This is not intended to be an exhaustive bibliography. I have tried to provide examples of websites espousing all points of view on herbal remedies.

[1] ( -- Website of the Herb Research Foundation. "Founded in 1983 with a mission of herb research and public education, HRF remains committed to supporting the public's right to truthful information about the health benefits of herbs."

[2] ( -- Example of a pharmaceutical company's website. I picked this one since it had a prominent advertisement in the May/June 2008 issue of AARP magazine, to which I subscribe.

[3] ( -- The website of the American Academy of Family Physicians. This page, entitled "Herbal Products and Supplements: What You Should Know", is not listed in the menu on their Homepage. I discovered it by Googling on "herbal medicine". It states beneath the title, "This information was developed as part of an educational program made possible by an unrestricted educational grant from McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals."

[4] ( -- Example of a vitamin/mineral company. I have been purchasing my vitamins & minerals from here for many years.

[5] ( -- Website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

No comments:

Post a Comment