Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Herbal remedies face licence rule in Europe

I actually think that this is very fair.  The only herbal products that will remain are scientifically proven to be safe, and even then, I managed to buy St John's Wort tablets several years ago without a prescription only to find out much later that it interferes with the contraceptive pill.  No such note was to be found on the bottle itself.  For years we used ginseng to help our memory, but recent scientific findings reveal that it does nothing at all for the memory - so how did it get on the counter in the first place?  At the end of all of this 'the label still will not be able to tell customers if they can be shown to work' which at least is eradicating harmful quantities which are not measured properly.
“Hundreds of traditional and imported remedies on the shelves of health food shops and herbalists are set to be banned under new licensing rules.  The EU directive aims to protect users from any damaging side-effects that can arise from taking unsuitable medicines.  Only high quality, long-established and scientifically safe herbal medicines will be sold over the counter.  Some traders who sell products imported from outside the EU say their business will be hit.  Herbal medicines – with names such as Cascara Bark and Horny Goat Weed – have become popular.  But from the first of May an EU directive will be enforced, under which all such products must be licensed, following fears that some products could cause harm."
Read more at BBC News


eardcwen said...

I don't particularly think this is completely fair. Science is amazing, but it doesn't have all the answers.

The key word in that excerpt is 'could'. It 'could' cause harm. Just like pharmaceuticals 'can' cause harm.

It's a well know fact these days to anyone who looks into herbal remedies that St. John's Wort can interrupt you contraceptive pill, but a responsibly distributor should have it printed on the bottle. In my opinion, a responsible buyer should always research medicine before they take it, herbal or otherwise. Especially in the case of over the counter drugs.

It comes down to lack of responsibility. Of the producer/supplier and the buyer. But like all things, the Government is treating the buyer like the stereotype they're becoming - infant minded. Just lock it up so they can't touch it, don't make them use their brain about what they should do with their selves.

Elspeth said...

I think that at the end of the day, if someone is wanting to take something different in tablet form that they ought to consult their doctor. The information about St John's Wort was not common knowledge at the time when I bought it, and I wouldn't necessarily trust information online in order to make that choice - especially when all they want is to sell the product.

Their safety is assured, which is great, but whether they actually work for the purpose stated on the bottle still comes into question. I don't think their government are doing the wrong thing at all, but I'd like to see the products that don't work challenged as I consider them charlatans. How can they possibly be selling things that don't even work and be allowed to get away with it? That's like me buying a panadol and still having a headache - I'd be really angry. The most common herbal tablets available don't help headaches, stomach aches and the likes because so many of them are often placebos - like the aforementioned ginseng. I think it's fair to say that the consumer expects the product to work if it's in the pharmacy.

I don't mind having a variety of herbal teas, and create things to use externally, but apart from vitamins, I tend to not just grab anything off the shelf these days without proof that it works and would put it by my doctor first.

I'm not very conventional when it comes to this sort of thing, as a Wiccan that is. I was at a healing where a woman had an infection in her foot and decided to let nature cure it itself... But we know very well that you need antibiotics for that otherwise the infection can spread to the rest of the body and can be very dangerous. My body is a temple, and I intend to do the right thing by it.

Elspeth said...

Sorry to crap on but this is a subject that I am really passionate about, particularly when you think of the alchemists who formed the grounds of chemistry. They believed that it was magick that created this all-cure by crushing a 24-year-old man’s spine, mixing it with fluids and hanging it in a tree for several weeks… All they had done was create penicillin from the mould that grew from the gooey substance – and I can only feel sorry for the 24-year-old man whose spine was ripped from his dead body. Rather than investigating why it worked, they just accepted that it was magick and penicillin wasn’t rediscovered until the 20th century as a natural substance contained within a pill. Had they known what they were really creating they could have saved so many lives in the 300 years inbetween.

This is something that I am so passionate about that I want to write a book on one day in order for others – and not only Wiccans – to benefit from. We do need to know why things work in order to really benefit from them.

Why cannot science be magickal in itself? Isn’t it wonderful that I can live for another forty years more than my great great grandparent could thanks to years of research using ingredients from nature at the right quantities and safe measurements?

I don’t think that the governments or pharmaceutical companies are ripping us off unless they are feeding us placebos. They aren’t closing doors either, they’re simply looking out for the wellbeing of the consumer. As far as I’ve read the government isn’t making any money out of it, they’re not doing it to make anyone look silly. The fact that they have taken any concern in this is marvellous.