Traditional Chinese Medicine

Risks involved in using Chinese herbs are highlighted in the just released AFP report, which you can read on Yahoo News. Here is an edited quote from this story: The samples analyzed for this study included herbal teas, capsules, powders and flakes were tested by scientists at Australia’s Murdoch University. 68 different plant families that were detected in the 15 samples can be toxic if taken in the wrong doses, but the packaging did not list the concentrations of the elements inside.
I am a big proponent of alternative and complementary medicine, recommend herbs, and am a certified acupuncturist. I think acupuncture and many herbal products have a place in the modern medicine because they’ve been shown to be effective. However, many people who go to acupuncturists are often given Chinese herbs along with acupuncture. Unfortunately, there is very little or no quality control in the production of the Chinese herbs. The most dramatic example of this problem was described in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 – an herb people were taking for weight loss was contaminated by a toxic plant which caused kidney failure and urinary cancer in 18 of 105 patients. China (just like India, Russia, etc) still has extreme levels of corruption, which means that we cannot rely on their herbal products unless they are first tested in an American laboratory for purity. For now, stick with herbal products made in the US or Western Europe. Feverfew, boswellia, ginger, valerian root, and other are available from major manufacturers, such as Solgar, GNC, Nature Made, and other.

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