Rabidly anti-herbal sentiments debunked.
Date: Wed, 10 May 1995 09:37:11 +1000
Sender: Medicinal and Aromatic Plants discussion list <HERB.TREARN.BITNET>
From: Alison Davies <astile.CANDELO.DPIE.GOV.AU>
Subject: Re: antibiotics vs. herbal meds
> I will be giving a speech in one of my classes in the next two weeks on the subject of traditional Western medicine's use of antibiotics vs. natural herbal healing and preventative care. I would like to deal with this subject as even-handed as possible, but advocate the natural herbal approach and prevention as the better alternative. Instead of building up the bodies immunity to antibiotics every time an illness occurs.
> What I am looking for are references to books and journal articles that can be accessed at a University or Public library. Any personal / professional opinions would also be greatly appreciated.
> I am very interested in the subject, but unfortunately, as of yet, I know very little about the subjects I listed. So any information, I would regard as very helpful.
>Thanks very much.
Just some words of warning. "Antibiotic" means things that kill "biota" (ie life) but has come to mean a bacterial killer, it does not mean "synthetic". The commonest one is "soap", which disrupts bacterial cell walls because of its detergent effect.
Now, if you are going to be evenhanded, you must include all types, and remember that things like penicillin are natural, so if you were desperate, mouldy bread would cure acne! "The natural herbal approach" (your words) got abandoned because natural remedies are unpredictable - a plant may have 10% toxin one week and less than 1% the next, and for things that died down in winter, your average healer would have a bunch of dried or mouldy herb hung up under the roof, probably with no active chemicals left!
I am worried by your phrase "instead of building up the bodies immunity to antibiotics" surely you know that it is the resistance OF THE BUG that is the worry? Antibiotics are generally non-toxic to us, because they are broken down by the liver.
Please remember, if you are at an academic institution, that no-one will gain if you spread half-truths or lies, so please research your facts. If you are new to healing "chemistry", feel free to send me text, if you wish it validated.
I'm trying not to scold you too hard - but I am upset that you say you wish to be even-handed, yet then say that you wish to advocate the natural herbal approach as "better". You are wrong - it is not better - but it is different.
You may like to tell your class that nearly all herbal remedies are far more poisonous than synthetic ones. The reason is that plants produce poisons to stop animals eating them, and animals includes us. Synthetic poisons have to be screened through our government agencies, which usually works, before being allowed to be sold. I could name you several natural drugs / herbs that are a hundred times more teratogenic than Thalidomide, yet you "herbalists" will still recommend them, and of course the still-born foetus is either too small to be noticed, or NOT linked to taking chamomile tea!
I hope that I have been of some use. Please write back to tell me I'm a bitch, if it makes you feel better.
From: Paul Bergner <bergner.TELEPORT.COM>
> >You may like to tell your class that nearly all herbal remedies are far more poisonous than synthetic ones.
"Nearly all"!? Please! Who are you, anyway? Approximately 8% of all hospital admissions in the U.S. are due to adverse reactions to synthetic drugs. That's a minimum of 2,000,000. At least 100,000 people a year die from them. That's just in the U.S., and that's a conservative estimate. That means at least three times as many people are killed in the U.S. by pharmaceutical drugs as are killed by drunken drivers. Thousands die each year from supposedly "safe" over-the-counter remedies. Deaths or hospitalizations due to herbs are so rare that they're hard to find. the U.S. National Poison Control Centers does not even have a category in their data base for adverse reactions to herbs.
> >The reason is that plants produce poisons to stop animals eating them, and animals includes us.
Some of those poisons are our best medicines (and the source of many of our best pharmacetuical drugs, by the way.) The best example is the allicin in garlic. It's produced when garlic is cut (or bitten into by a critter) in order to drive them away. It's also a broad spectrum antibiotic, which helps the plant resist disease organisms. The allicin rapidly breaks down into more than twenty other medicinal substances. These have been found by establishment scientists to lower cholesterol, blood clotting, and high blood pressure, stimulate the immune system, and inhibit tumors, among many other medicinal actions.
> >I could name you several natural drugs / herbs that are a hundred times more teratogenic than Thalidomide, yet you "herbalists" will still recommend them, and of course the still-born foetus is either too small to be noticed, or NOT linked to taking chamomile tea!
Name them, then, and I'll add them to my file. I've studied the toxicity of herbs professionally since 1978, and I've yet to find a single verified case of teratogenicity in herbs, although herbalists routinely recommend against some, like ginseng, that affect hormonal systems, out of prudent caution. Hepatotoxocity? Yes. Some herbs containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids, such as Tansy ragwort and Western coltsfoot have led to death of a newborn. I wonder how you quantify "a hundred times more teratogenic?"
I'll grant that your point is well taken that sick patients are not well enough screened for herbal causes of their problems. But it's nowhere near the scale of the problems with pharmacetuical drugs. Adverse effects are -routinely- treated as new diseases, and a new drug prescriged on top of the old one. (I'll give you case studies if you'd like, from my file of allopathic horror stories that were only cleaned up by "herbalists," myself included.)
> >I hope that I have been of some use. Please write back to tell me I'm a bitch, if it makes you feel better.
Perhaps you could use of natural therapy for your liver. It might make you feel better.