Herb attack scientist fails to get facts straight: ABC

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Medicine, Pharmacology

The University of Adelaide scientist behind a study highlighting dangers of mixing botanical products and pharmaceuticals, has a limited understanding of the herbal sector, according to the American Botanical Council (ABC).

The paper suffers from gross and misinformed generalizations such as the idea that botanicals are inherently unsafe, whereas pharma products are safe, said ABC founder and chief executive, Mark Blumenthal.

“This is another review paper written by someone with very limited or no expertise in herbs and medicinal plants,”​ Blumenthal said.

“Like the error-filled and non-credible paper published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology last week, the author exhibits his lack of expertise in this area by referring to the dried venom of a Chinese toad as ‘herbal’ – preposterous!”

Published in a recent edition of the Journal of Forensic Sciences​, Professor Roger Byard challenged the idea that herbal medicines are safe.

“There’s a false perception that herbal remedies are safer than manufactured medicines, when in fact many contain potentially lethal concentrations of arsenic, mercury and lead,”​ Professor Byard wrote.

“Forensic pathologists the world over need to become more aware of the contribution that herbal medicines are playing in a range of deaths, that is not currently recognized.”

Blumenthal criticized a deduction process that failed to fairly assess the number of adverse events in pharma versus the complementary and alternative medicines sector.

“One of the author’s main errors seems to be their presumption that standard pharmaceutical drugs are inherently safe while herbs are presumed unsafe, while the available data suggest otherwise,”​ he said.

“This is a classic example of how one can selectively pick through the available evidence to support what is probably a pre-determined conclusion or thesis. The primary author, a pathologist, has done what pathologists often do: focus on the pathology, the illness, the potential safety problem despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”

Related topics: Research, Polyphenols

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