- Note - How interesting...not a word about
how many tens of thousands of Americans are killed each year by 'tested'
and 'approved' prescription medications in hospitals and homes. Adverse
drug reactions and overmedication are a big, dark secret in modern Western
medicine. The fraudulent and corrupt test data used to gain license and
approval for many pharmaceutical drugs is legendary. And organized medicine
and the pharmaceutical companies are now calling for rigid testing of herbs
and supplements claiming 'danger'. Could it possibly have something to
do the with the burgeoning amount of money now being spent on 'alternative'
therapy by people seeking an option to organized medicine and expensive
prescriptions and medical procedures?
- BOSTON (Reuters) -- Noting that there can be dangers in using poorly
tested herbal remedies, one of the nation's leading medical journals says
alternative medicines should be subjected to the same rigorous standards
as mainstream treatments.
- In an editorial, physicians Marcia Angell
and Jerome P. Kassirer of the New England Journal of Medicine argued that
testimonials and speculation are no substitute for precise medical evidence
that treatments are safe and effective.
- "There cannot be two kinds of medicine
-- conventional and alternative," they wrote in Thursday's issue.
"There is only medicine that has been adequately tested and medicine
that has not, medicine that works and medicine that may or may not work."
- Herbal remedies sold as dietary supplements
have proliferated since 1994, when Congress exempted them from regulation
by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The same issue of the journal carried
these reports on alternative medicine:
- Doctors from Alberta Children's Hospital
in Canada reported two cases in which parents opted to treat their children's
cancer with shark cartilage or the herb astragalus instead of standard
medicines. In both cases, the cancers progressed, and one child died.
- The California Department of Health Services
tested 260 traditional Chinese medicines and found one-third were contaminated
with heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic, or pharmaceuticals not listed
on the labels.
- Doctors from Robert Wood Johnson Medical
School in New Jersey tested a mixture of eight herbs, sold as PC-SPES,
on men with prostate cancer. They found it worked like estrogen, decreasing
testosterone and cutting sex drive. While not proving whether it relieves
cancer, the study shows the herb blend has potent hormonal effects.
- The FDA described an episode, publicized
last year, in which the herb plantain was contaminated with a naturally
occurring form of digitalis, a heart stimulant that can cause cardiac arrest.
- A group of doctors from Arizona reported
the case of a man found driving erratically after taking a supplement promoted
as a way to increase growth hormone. A letter from the manufacturer, RenewTrient
Research of Cocoa Beach, Fla., said the man ignored a label warning to
take the substance only before sleeping.
- "Alternative treatments should be
subjected to scientific testing no less rigorous than that required for
conventional treatments," the journal editorial said.
- At the American Council on Science and
Health, associate director Jeff Strier said, "It's good to see that
mainstream medicine is coming on board to defend itself" against unproven
- However, the Council for Responsible
Nutrition, which represents supplement makers, defended the law that allowed
the pills to come into wider use. It said many of the issues raised by
the journal, such as contaminated products, are already covered by federal
- "Broadsides such as the NEJM editorial
serve only to confuse the issue by intermingling a variety of topics,"
said a statement by the organization.