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Valeriana toxicity debunked.

Botanical name:

Newsgroups: alt.folklore.herbs
Subject: Re: Valerian
From: jtreasure.jonno.demon.co.uk (Jonathan Treasure)
Date: Sat, 29 Apr 1995 09:57:01 GMT

camilla.primenet.com (Camilla Cracchiolo) wrote:
>Valerian has been shown to work as a tranquillizer and sedative in a number of studies. However, ignore anything that says that an herb works without the side effects of comparable orthodox drugs. Valerian has many of the same side effects, including over sedation and developing a tolerance. It's not particularly dangerous as far as I can tell; and I occasionally use it myself. It leaves me groggy as hell the next day. So much for no side effects.
>Rule #1 of pharmacology: the most frequent side effect of any pharmacologically active substance is an exaggerated version of its main mechanism of action. Memorize this.

Yet more unsubstantiated gibberish from Camilla the Scare mongerer.

  1. Herbs are NOT drugs in the sense of synthetic pharmaceuticals.
  2. Valerian is NOTED for its lack of side effects in respect of its sedative actions.
  3. If Valerian disagrees with you, as it does with many people, it is probably a result of its secondary qualities as an autonomic stimulant interacting with your constititutional characteristics. This is the case for many adrenergic stress constitution indivduals. A better relaxing nervine is Scutellaria for this type of person.
  4. Herbalists approach herbs from the totality of their effects NOT active ingredients or single actions, and prescribe them in relation to an overall picture of the indivdual. This involves understanding the subtlety and complexity both of the remedy and the individual, something obviously beyond the remit of Cracchiolo.
  5. Orthodox pharmacology has NO relationship to this approach whatsoever, although it is clearly part of Cracchiolos self appointed mission to mislead people intio thinking otherwise. Specifically - "side effects" of conventional pharmaceutical agents are better regarded as "new illnesses" related to the iatrogenic process of symptom suppression that is the rationale of most symptomatic pharmacology.
  6. Isn't it about time that CC stopped issuing scaremongering proclamations in a.f.h implying she is some kind of authority on phytotherapy when it is painfully obvious she is not only without professional qualifications but also is plain ignorant about the subject. This is personal prejudice masquerading as informed advice. Perhaps Cracchiolo could explain her personal agenda as a disclaimer and attatch it to her already overlong sig. file?

jonathan treasure


From: camilla.primenet.com (Camilla Cracchiolo)

Here, Jonathan, is this substantiation enough for you? Please pay special attention to the part on toxic effects which I underlined. And don't forget to read the abstracts attached at the end. I would hate for you to remain in glaring ignorance.

From: FRSHAW.delphi.com
Subject: Valerian

Valerian, Valeriana officinalis
W. Fred Shaw, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

TRADITIONAL USE
Valeriana officinalis, identified by the Greek physician Galen as "phu", is a European/Western Asian member of the family Valerianaceae, and has been traditionally used as a natural tranquilizer. Valerian is very popular in Europe and is available in the United States, despite FDA warnings. Historically, valerian has been used as a stomachic (stimulates appetite and gastric secretions), antispasmodic (controls muscle spasms and cramps), carminitive (controls gas), expectorant, anti-asthmatic and antidote for the black plague (1, 2). Other uses: headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, anti-depressant; diuretic; lower blood pressure; epilepsy; and, together with other herbs, for fever (1-4). Topical uses include: wounds, ulcers and eczema (4). One source states that "laboratory tests show antitumor activity" (4). It was listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as a tranquilizer from 1820 to 1942 and in the U.S. National Formulary from 1942 to 1950.

DOSAGE
One source advises to make a maceration using 4 teaspoons of the fresh root of valerian in cold water (not cooked) - left overnight and stirred occasionally (2). Another herbalist recommends using 1 teaspoon of the dried root infused in 1 pint of water, and drunk cold, 1 cup during throughout the day or at bedtime. The taste is bitter.

PHARMACOLOGY AND MEDICAL USES
The active chemical constituents of valerian are primarily the valepotriates (valtrate, isovaltrate and dihydrovaltrate), a group of chemically unstable iridoid triesters possessing sedative activity (9, 13, 18), with fewer side-effects than the diazepam class of tranquilizers (such as Valium), and reportedly are not potentiated by alcohol (1). Sleep studies have found that valerian produced a significant improvement in sleep quality (15), with an increased REM-phase in the latter half of the night (14). The ability to recall dreams, night awakenings and somnolence the next morning were relatively unaffected by valerian (15). Valerian has a stronger hypnotic effect at a dosage of 120 mg. compared to 60 mg, and that the maximum effect was observed 2 or 3 hours after ingesting the herb (14).

Aqueous extracts of valerian also contain enough GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid - a principal neurotransmitter inhibitor of the central nervous system) to account for [3H]GABA release in synaptosomes, with an anti-depressant effect (5, 6). The effect of valerian extract on the central nervous system has been confirmed in comparitive studies in which valerian extract and imipramine (a tricyclic anti-depressant) reversed reserpine-induced hypothermia in mice, a test which suggests anti-depressant actions (8). Valerian extract has demonstrated moderate sedative effects in comparison with diazepam (Valium) and chlorpromazine (7).

Anti-convulsive properties of the valerian extract are described as "weak" (7).

The "mild" myorelaxant action of valerian is attributed to the valepotriate component of the herb (12). The valepotriates isovaltrate and valtrate, and the essential oil compound valeranone were observed to suppress the rhythmic contractions in a closed part of the guinea-pig ileum in vivo (16). The inhibition of muscle contractions by the valium chemicals valeranone and didrovalate were as potent as papaverine (16).

This herb also contains essential oils, including valerianic acid, isovalerianic acid, borneol, camphene, pinene and sesquiterpenes (2, 3). The sesquiterpenes also contribute to the sedative effect of this herb, but to a lesser degree than the valepotriates (11). Additional constituents include volatile alkaloids, iridoids, glycosides and tannic acid.

This herb is described as a "medium strength herb with some chronic toxicity". (2) Large doses can cause vomiting, stupor, dizziness and, if used for too long, depression (1). Other toxic side-effects include headaches and palpitations (3). Toxic effects will likely be seen if valerian is used continuously for more than 2 or 3 weeks (2, 3).

IMMUNOTOXICOLOGY
This herb should be avoided by persons that are immunosuppressed. The toxic effects that appear after 2 or 3 weeks of regular use would very likely appear much sooner in persons with HIV disease, primarily due to the common hypersensitivity observed in HIV+ persons to drug side-effects.

The valepotriates found in Valerian are cytotoxic (10), and the metabolites (baldrinal and homobaldrinal) of dihydrovaltrate (one of the valepotriates) show mutagenic effects in the Salmonella/microsome test (13).

References

  1. Kowalchik, C. and Hylton, W.H., eds. 1987. Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA.
  2. Holmes, P. 1989. The Energetics of Western Herbs, Vol I and II. Artemis Press, Boulder, CO.
  3. Ody, P. 1993. The Complete Medicinal Herbal. Dorling Kindersley Inc., New York, NY.
  4. Bremness, L. 1994. Herbs. . Dorling Kindersley Inc., New York, NY.
  5. Santos MS; Ferreira F; Faro C; Pires E; Carvalho AP; Cunha AP; Macedo T. The amount of GABA present in aqueous extracts of valerian is sufficient to account for [3H]GABA release in synaptosomes [letter]. Planta Medica, 1994 Oct, 60(5):475-6.
  6. Santos MS; Ferreira F; Cunha AP; Carvalho AP; Ribeiro CF; Macedo T. Synaptosomal GABA release as influenced by valerian root extract--involvement of the GABA carrier. Archives Internationales de Pharmacodynamie et de Therapie, 1994 Mar-Apr, 327(2):220-31. Abstract: The effect of an aqueous extract obtained from the roots of Valeriana officinalis was investigated on the uptake and release of GABA in synaptosomes isolated from rat brain cortex. Aqueous extract of valerian inhibited the uptake and stimulated the release of [3H]GABA, either in the absence or in the presence of K+ depolarization. The release was Na(+)-dependent and independent of the presence of Ca2+ in the external medium. It is concluded that valerian extract releases [3H]GABA by reversal of the GABA carrier, which is Na(+)-dependent and Ca(2+)-independent. This increase in [3H]GABA release appears to be independent from Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase activity and the membrane potential.
  7. Leuschner J; Muller J; Rudmann M. Characterisation of the central nervous depressant activity of a commercially available valerian root extract. Arzneimittel-Forschung, 1993 Jun, 43(6):638-41. Abstract: The evaluation of a commercially available valerian root extract (Valdispert) revealed pronounced sedative properties in the mouse with respect to a reduction in motility and an increase in the thiopental sleeping-time. A direct comparison with diazepam and chlorpromazinerevealed a moderate sedative activity for the tested extract. The extract showed only weak anticonvulsive properties.
  8. Sakamoto T; Mitani Y; Nakajima K. Psychotropic effects of Japanese valerian root extract. Chemical and Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 1992 Mar, 40(3):758-61. Abstract: The psychotropic effects of "Hokkai-Kisso", i.e. roots of Japanese valerian, were compared with those of diazepam and imipramine. Both 30% EtOH extract of valerian root (11.2 g/kg) and diazepam (3 mg/kg) significantly prolonged hexobarbital-induced sleep in mice. Spontaneous ambulation and rearing during an open field test were significantly decreased by valerian extract (11.2 g/kg), but kessyl glycol diacetate(KGD, 400 mg/kg) and diazepam (3 mg/kg) significantly increased ambulation.Diazepam (10 mg/kg) significantly decreased approach-avoidance conflict in mice in a water-lick conflict test, but valerian extract and KGD did not.By contrast, valerian extract (4.1 g/kg) and imipramine (20 mg/kg) significantly inhibited immobility induced by a forced swimming test in rats, but did not increase spontaneous motor activity during an open field test just before the forced swimming test. In addition, valerian extract and imipramine significantly reversed reserpine-induced hypothermia in mice. These results indicate that valerian extract acts on the central nervous system and may be an antidepressant.
  9. Lin LJ; Cordell GA; Balandrin MF. Valerian-derived sedative agents. I. On the structure and spectral assignment of the constituents of valmane using the selective INEPTnuclear magnetic resonance technique. Pharmaceutical Research, 1991 Sep, 8(9):1094-102. Abstract: The valepotriates, a group of chemically unstable iridoid triesters possessing sedative activity, contain various ester groups at the C-1, C-7,and C-11 positions. Using the selective INEPT NMR technique and employing asuitable polarization delay for long-range coupling, it was possible to achieve the assignment and location of the ester groups directly, without ambiguity, and without chemical modification. Six valepotriates isolated from Valmane tablets served as examples to demonstrate the utility of this NMR technique. During the course of this work, the "acevaltrate" fraction was shown to be a mixture of 1-alpha-acevaltrate (3) and 7-beta-acevaltrate (4), the structures of valtrate (1) and didrovaltrate (2) were confirmed directly, and two new valepotriates, 5a and 5b, were obtained as an inseparable mixture and characterized.
  10. Lindahl O; Lindwall L. Double blind study of a valerian preparation. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 1989 Apr, 32(4):1065-6. Abstract: Valerian root contains two substances of special pharmacological interest--valepotriates and sesquiterpenes. The former, which has been used for standardization of the drug, is cytotoxic. The latter has no such effect. Both have sedative effects. A double blind test has been carried out on a preparation (VALERINA NATT) containing primarily sesquiterpenes. When compared with placebo it showed a good and significant effect on poor sleep (p less than 0.001). Forty-four percent reported perfect sleep and 89% reported improved sleep from the preparation. No side effects were observed.
  11. Houghton PJ. The biological activity of Valerian and related plants. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 1988 Feb-Mar, 22(2):121-42. Abstract: A comprehensive review of the constituents of the Valerianaceae is presented with particular reference to the sedative activity of extracts from various constituent species. The sedative activity can be ascribed to the valepotriates present and to a lesser extent to the sesquiterpene constituents of the volatile oils. Recent research into the toxicology of the valepotriates is also considered.
  12. Dunaev VV; Trzhetsinskii SD; Tishkin VS; Fursa NS; Linenko VI. [Biological activity of the sum of the valepotriates isolated from Valeriana alliariifolia]. Farmakologiia i Toksikologiia, 1987 Nov-Dec, 50(6):33-7. Language: Russian. Abstract: The native sum of valepotriates isolated from Val. alliariifolia Adams which was named valiracyl is an agent of low toxicity and exerts a pronounced neurotropic effect. Valiracyl suppresses the orientation reflex of animals in an "open field", decreases a spontaneous and caffeine-stimulated motor activity, potentiates and prolongs the action of barbiturates, significantly reduces aggressiveness of animals, decreases sensitivity to the convulsant effects of corasol and thiosemicarbazide, produces the antihypoxic and mild myorelaxant actions. The neurotropic effects of valiracyl are related to increased level of the GABA inhibition mediator and decreased intensity of bioenergetic processes in the brain.
  13. von der Hude W; Scheutwinkel-Reich M; Braun R. Bacterial mutagenicity of the tranquilizing constituents of Valerianaceae roots. Mutation Research, 1986 Jan-Feb, 169(1-2):23-7. Abstract: The valepotriates valtrate/isovaltrate and dihydrovaltrate are considered to be the main tranquilizing constituents of drugs derived from the roots of several Valerianaceae. The decomposition products of valtrate and isovaltrate include the metabolites baldrinal and homobaldrinal, respectively, whereas the decomposition products of dihydrovaltrate do not include baldrinal-like metabolites. Purified valtrate/isovaltrate, dihydrovaltrate, baldrinal and homobaldrinal were investigated for their genotoxic activity in the Salmonella/microsome test and the SOS-chromotest. The valepotriates developed mutagenic activity in these test systems only in the presence of S9 mix, whereas both baldrinals showed mutagenic effects in both tests with and without metabolic activation.
  14. Gessner B; Klasser M. [Studies on the effect of Harmonicum Much on sleep using polygraphic EEG recordings]. Eeg Emg Z Elektroenzephalogr Verwandte Geb, 1984 Mar, 15(1):45-51.Language: German. Abstract: The effects of 60 and 120 mg valerian (1 resp. 2 capsules Harmonicum Much) have been investigated by computer analysis of sleep stages (sleep profiles) and psychometric methods ( questionnaires ). EOG, EMG of cervical muscles, ECG and EEG (two-sided: centro-occipital and fronto-central - have been recorded from 6 male and 5 (3) female healthy volunteers. Amplified signals have been analysed on-line (power spectral analysis) and the sleep profiles have been calculated accordingly. After one night for adaptation, each subject took orally placebo, 60 and 120 mg valerian (1 resp. 2 capsules Harmonicum Much) according to a randomized double-blind repeated measures-design. The sleep investigations have been carried out by distance of a week for each condition (dosage per subject). In the morning following this night, the subjects completed a mood scale. Both dosages showed a decrease of sleep stage 4 and a slight reduction of REM-sleep. Contrary, a slight increase of sleep stage awake, 1 and 2 could be observed. A further increase of sleep stage 3 could be identified. After application of 120 mg valerian , the frequency of REM-phases (in %) declined during the first half of the night, whereas during the second part of the night, a surplus appeared. Changes or the Beta-intensity of the EEG during REM-sleep show a stronger hypnotic effect for the 120 mg dosage than for 60 mg. Maximum effect was observed between 2 and 3 hours post medicationem . Results of the mood scale are indifferent between the experimental conditions, which indicate no negative (side-) effects neither by drug nor by testing methods.
  15. Leathwood PD; Chauffard F; Heck E; Munoz-Box R. Aqueous extract of valerian root (Valeriana officinalis L.) improves sleep quality in man. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 1982 Jul, 17(1):65-71. Abstract: The effect of an aqueous extract of valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.) root on subjectively rated sleep measures was studied on 128 people. Each person received 9 samples to test (3 containing placebo, 3 containing 400 mg valerian extract and 3 containing a proprietary over-the-counter valerian preparation). The samples, identified only by a code number, and presented in random order, were taken on non-consecutive nights. Valerian produced a significant decrease in subjectively evaluated sleep latency scores and a significant improvement in sleep quality: the latter was most notable among people who considered themselves poor or irregular sleepers, smokers, and people who thought they normally had long sleep latencies. Night awakenings, dream recall and somnolence the next morning were relatively unaffected by valerian. With the proprietary valerian-containing preparation, the only change was a significant increase in reports of feeling more sleepy than normal the next morning. Thus the questionnaire, simple to use and non-invasive, provides a sensitive means for detecting the effects of mild sedatives on different aspects of sleep in man. It also allows identification within the test population of the subgroups most affected.
  16. Hazelhoff B; Malingre TM; Meijer DK. Antispasmodic effects of valeriana compounds: an in-vivo and in-vitro study on the guinea-pig ileum. Archives Internationales de Pharmacodynamie et de Therapie, 1982 Jun, 257(2):274-87. Abstract: The valepotriates isovaltrate and valtrate, and the essential oil compound valeranone caused a suppression of rhythmic contractions in a closed part of the guinea-pig ileum in-vivo. The same compounds and didrovaltrate relaxed potassium stimulated contractures and inhibited BaCl2 contractions in guinea-pig ileum preparations in-vitro. Guinea-pig stomach fundic strips stimulated by carbachol were also relaxed by these substances. Potassium stimulated smooth muscle cells were also relaxed by the valeriana compounds (10(-5)-10(-4) M) even, when autonomic receptors were blocked by appropriate antagonists. In lower concentrations (10(-6)-10(-5) M), the compounds did not affect the dose-response curves of carbachol and isoprenaline. In some experiments valeranone at 4.10(-6) M produced an increased isoprenaline relaxation of the guinea-pig ileum. Valeranone and didrovaltrate were about equipotent to papaverine in inhibiting BaCl2 contractions. It is concluded that the valeriana compounds agents and not by interacting with receptors of the autonomic nervous system.
  17. Janot MM; Guilhem J; Contz O; Venera G; Cionga E. [Contribution to the study of valerian alcaloids (Valeriana officinalis, L.): actinidine and naphthyridylmethylketone, a new alkaloid (author's transl)]. Annales Pharmaceutiques Francaises, 1979, 37(9-10):413-20. Language: French.
  18. Leathwood PD; Chauffard F. Quantifying the effects of mild sedatives. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 1982-83, 17(2):115-22. Abstract: In quantifying the effects of mild sedatives both physiological and subjective aspects of sleep must be taken into account. A questionnaire analysis on a mild sedative (400 mg of an aqueous extract of Valeriana officinalis L.) showed that by subjective criteria it is sedative (i.e. it significantly decreased perceived sleep latencies and night awakenings, and improved sleep quality). In an EEG study on the same preparation the pattern of results tended to confirm the subjective evaluation (i.e. shorter mean sleep latency, increased mean latency to first awakening) but the changes did not reach statistical significance. The discussion critically examines some of the approaches used to test putative mild sedatives and suggests a rational approach to analysing their effects.

Camilla Cracchiolo, RN camilla.primenet.com
Shrine of the Cybernetic Madonna BBS 213-766-1356


From: gold.ilp.mit.edu (Mark D. Gold)

>Here, Jonathan, is this substantiation enough for you? Please pay special attention to the part on toxic effects which I underlined. And
>don't forget to read the abstracts attached at the end. I would hate for you to remain in glaring ignorance.
>
>From: FRSHAW.delphi.com
>Subject: Valerian

Camilla,

I have to admit that this "article" is better than Mr. Shaw's piece on Kombucha and Essiac which was a combination of good ideas and speculative nonsense which I pointed out on sci.med.aids.

>PHARMACOLOGY AND MEDICAL USES
>The active chemical constituents of valerian are primarily the valepotriates (valtrate, isovaltrate and dihydrovaltrate), a group of chemically unstable iridoid triesters possessing sedative activity (9, 13, 18)

Since when has it been decided that the valepotriates are the "active" constituents? Not even your favorite pharmacologist, Varro Tyler, believes that the valepotriates are the last word in active constituents:

"Although the active principles of valerian remain unidentified, it seems possible that a combination of volatile oil, valepotriates, and possibly certain water soluble constituents may be involved."

Other recent work on valerian concurs that the active principle(s) remain unidentified.

>This herb is described as a "medium strength herb with some chronic toxicity". (2) Large doses can cause vomiting, stupor, dizziness and, if used for too long, depression (1). Other toxic side-effects include headaches and palpitations (3). Toxic effects will likely be seen if valerian is used continuously for more than 2 or 3 weeks (2, 3).

"Significant side effects have not been reported nor has acute toxicity been demonstrated, either in animals or humans." (Yes, Varro Tyler again -- 1994.) According to Christopher Hobbs, constant use *may* produce minor side effects in *some* people -- headaches, uneasiness, insomnia.

"No toxicity has ever been domonstrated in intact animals or human beings, so there is no cause for concern." (Varro Tyler -- 1994) Animals have been given extremely large doses of individual chemical constituents and suffered acute toxicity (i.e., 4600mg/kg of a valepotriate). Translation: Don't swallow a whole bottle of valerian capsules in order to relieve stress. (A whole bottle would still provide many times less than the 4600 mg/kg dose, but is not a good idea.)

>IMMUNOTOXICOLOGY
>This herb should be avoided by persons that are immunosuppressed. The toxic effects that appear after 2 or 3 weeks of regular use would very likely appear much sooner in persons with HIV disease, primarily due to the common hypersensitivity observed in HIV+ persons to drug side-effects.

I wouldn't take any medical advice from someone who still uses the meaningless term "HIV disease" (despite my pointing this out to him months ago) and does not differentiate between a positive HIV antibody test and a person diagnosed with AIDS. Also, a person with a HIV+ antibody test is not automatically "immunosuppressed."

There are several good books and articles that deal with holistic healing techniques and herbs for persons who have received an AIDS diagnosis.

>The valepotriates found in Valerian are cytotoxic (10), and the metabolites (baldrinal and homobaldrinal) of dihydrovaltrate (one of the valepotriates) show mutagenic effects in the Salmonella/microsome test (13).

The valepotriates occur in *extremely* small amounts (if at all) in commercial valerian preparations. The cytotoxicity of valepotriates were seen "in vitro" (in a test tube), but not "in vivo" (in living organisms). Tests with dosages as high as 1350 mg/kg has shown no cytotoxicity. This is probably because valepotriates not easily absorbed, but are broken down and then metabolized quickly in the body.

Come one Camilla, this article is just plain silly. Mr. Shaw may want to take a look at the book, "Valerian: The Relaxing and Sleep Herb" by Christopher Hobbs, Botanica Press, c1993 or recent works by the holistic health skeptic, Varro Tyler for more updated and balanced information on valerian. (I can't believe I'm recommending Tyler's work!)

Best regards,
- Mark
gold.ilp.mit.edu


From: jtreasure.jonno.demon.co.uk (Jonathan Treasure)

camilla.primenet.com (Camilla Cracchiolo) wrote:
>Here, Jonathan, is this substantiation enough for you? Please pay special attention to the part on toxic effects which I underlined.

>Valerian, Valeriana officinalis
>W. Fred Shaw, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

blah blah Serious Science bits snipped out to save bandwidth....

OOPS...
OH DEAR CAMILLA: DID I PRESS A BUTTON BY ANY CHANCE?????

The problem with dealing with someone who does not understand something, and who then simply regurgitates a pile of citations which prove emphatically how little they understand , while saying nyah nyah ni nyah nyah at the same time - is probaby too taxing for me - and I certainly haven't the time or energy to get involved in a flaming exchange with you or any one else.

Let me however briefly deal with your Mr Shaw's "evidence".

I'm afraid I don't know of Mr Shaw, but in this country his qualifications would indicate that he is a qualified acupuncturist. Now I realise that in certain parts of California there are more acupuncturists per capita than psychotherapists, and statistically some of them must be reasonably knowledgeable about herbs from a western point of view as well as from a TCM perspective.

Unfortunately however Mr Shaw"s renown as a western herbalist has not percolated to these distant shores, and reading his article and references it is perhaps not hard to see why. For brevity, I will take your key example, which you so helpfully underlined...

>This herb is described as a "medium strength herb with some chronic toxicity". (2)

>2 Holmes, P. 1989. The Energetics of Western Herbs, Vol I and II. Artemis Press, Boulder, CO.

Of course, your ignorance of the subject probably prevents you from seeing how funny this is. Peter Holmes is an academic, and a very good one, who certainly does not spend his time in clinical practice as a western herbalist. One could call him a theoretician. He is well known to people in the UK NIMH. The joke is that he is a vitalist from the tip of his nose to the toes of his boots; there is not ONE single modern scientific citation in his Materia Medica BECAUSE it is a theoretical-historical compilation attemping to synthesise Galenic humoral physiology with TCM energetics. (and more) Actually most of his references are prior to the 16th Century. Peter would DIE of embarrassment if he knew his text was being used to support a toxicity argument repeated by some half baked reductionist on the internet.

(Incidentally, the introductory parts to the first volume are dense, occasionally brilliant, and fascinating reading; the classification of herbs however has complex inconsistencies that do not make this a useful Practical Materia Medica for novices - that's my opinion only)

It transpires then, that Mr Shaw's prime source on the matter is dear Peter Holmes..followed by a couple of potboiler "encyclopedias" no doubt with full colour illustrations.....no wonder Mr Shaw's publications (if any) have not exactly set western herbalists aflame and agog with excitement...still we wait in anticipation .......

ON AND ON

>don't forget to read the abstracts attached at the end. I would hate for you to remain in glaring ignorance.

Oh goody! - real scientific abstracts downloaded from MEDLINE. Now we are getting the hard stuff. (dons white coat in readiness, slow pan shot reveals many dials and flashing lights on shiny equipment in background)

Well - if I wanted to write a quick overview of a herb I knew nothing about from my own experience I could quickly check out Holmes for background and dive into MEDLINE - good tactic Fred. Looks authoritative.

What a load of cobblers. (old english expression, cobblers meaning spherical objects)

You see Camilla, when herbalists review literature of so called *real scientific* investigations into herbs, (ie performed by our white sheeted friends) they tend do two things first. 1. Eliminate non-human studies. 2. Check the origin, species, parts used, method of extraction, dose etc of the plant involved. (Note I said Herbalists here, not pharmacognoscists, ethnobotanists or gullible idiots who think that an abstract is meaningful because its an abstract or because its in Medline)

That means that the majority of your (Mr Shaw's) citations are a waste of time - purely from a clinical herbalist's point of view ....since they use rodents, rats, mice, guinea pigs as well as in vitro studies on parts of the same etc. (My only personal connection with rodents are my son's pet rats and being born in the year of the rat - but I know some people find these unending forays into the boundaries of rodent physiology quite relevant) There are three human studies, two of which use apparently comparable preparations, and none of which mention toxicity or side effects. He has not reviewed the literature - he has regurgitated it. Maybe it impresses you - not me my dear.

To deal briefly with toxicity - your favourite subject. When herbalists analyse questions of toxicity they set out EXACTLY what they mean by toxicity. There are, of course, a number of different approaches and issues, both philosophical and practical. All I would ask, is that when you regurgitate your half baked "advice" to readers of this group, which somehow invariably reduces to scare mongering - please define what you mean by toxicity and for heaven's sake use some respected sources if you are going to bother to regurgitate anything at all. May I suggest you use Brinker - a standard text on the subject, as well as the work of James Duke and Norman Farnsworth (of NAPRALERT). Tyler is a wretched munchkin in the field who is not really worth bothering with. Otherwise the debate remains stuck at the well anything is poisonous if you take enough of it (eg water, oxygen) versus injecting ten times a rats body weight of x active principle causes tumours yawn surprise surprise.

A final footnote on our so called authority (ie Fred): when he speaks of dosage it is patently clear that he apparently has NO EXPERIENCE of Valerian prescription whatsoever - he mutters about this herbalist and that one recommends such and such. IF he knows what he is doing he would say so...If you use the damn stuff on a regular basis you know a) what the guideline doses are, b) how, when or why these must or can be departed from.

(Useful sources for those seeking information on dosage are readily available in Michael Moore's on line resource files, and at length in Weiss - Herbal Medicine)

All in all I suppose one could assume you chose Fred as your mentor in this instance for those qualities that resemble your own - a superficial knowledge with a sprinkling of science (citations and abstracts) masquerading as an informed point of view on the subject..... your style exactly.

> My agenda: the disseminiation of scientifically accurate information to counteract the lies and misinformation spread by people who can do a great deal of harm.

fine - but really Camilla you should try and do better. You are digging a hole for yourself and becoming the person you are trying to warn us about I'm afraid..... The people on this newsgroup deserve better even if you don't feel you do yourself.

enough

jonathan

PS I can't be bothered to reply to your petulant nonsense regarding my original posting.You simply don't understand it - fine- Forget it. Should you wish to delve into constitutional uses of western herbs there is an excellent introduction to the subject by Michael Moore available at: http://www.swsbm.com/ManualsMM/HRBENRGT.pdf


From: mikz.primenet.com (Michael Zalar)

Sean Myers (smmyers.pacbell.com) wrote:
: Could someone please give me a list of the medicinal values of Valerian. I have read the FAQ, but it didn't really give any info.

Just to throw a couple of other sources into the continuing debate on the adverse effects of Valerian: Peterson"s Field guide to Medicinal Plants shows no warning on the use of valerian. However, the Herb Book--by John Lust has the following warning: CAUTION: large doses or extended use may produce symptoms of poisoning. Take the tea twice daily for no more than two to three weeks at a time.

There is obviously a differenc of opinion on this subject, so quit your bloody viscious arguing please.


From: jtreasure.jonno.demon.co.uk (Jonathan Treasure)

mikz.primenet.com (Michael Zalar) wrote:
> There is obviously a differenc of opinion on this subject, so quit your bloody viscious arguing please.

Well Michael,

maybe my polemical bent prevented you from seeing the point - in which case it was not so skillful. My beef is NOT about Valeriana, but about how CC persistently perpetrates scare stories/misinformation about toxicity of herbs on afh - claiming to be a proponent of "scientific" truth on the subject. Private email suggests I am far from alone in being fed up with this.

Having myself turned to herbal medicine as a profession after an orthodox medical training - it is particularly galling to me to see someone who has professional qualifications in neither area, and more importantly, a limited understanding even of the "science" they claim to espouse, set themselves up as an authority with a personal crusade about the (lack of) safety of herbal medicines.

My comments on Shaw's article were an attempt to expose the flaws of such a banal bid for scientific credibility given that these matters can be difficult for those without any specialised training to form an opinion on. Despite being polemical and cynical ( after all I am english) there was both solid information and useful sources mentioned in my post.

I shall, no doubt to your relief, refrain from further contributions on the subject.... having already stated I do not want to get involved in flame exchanges etc.

May I however be impudent enough to offer some recommendations to readers of this newsgroup before shutting up.

As your post says, you looked in the two herb books on your shelf and came up with different stories about Valerian. It is a fact that many "popular" herb books simply reproduce /regurgitate facts derived or passed on from others before them. Chinese whispers. The question arises where do "ordinary" people turn for accurate/reliable information on herbs?

My personal advice, especially to those in the USA where medical herbalists are not legally recognised or professionally accredited is to look FIRSTLY to two of the leading current teachers of herbalism in your country.

One is an ex patriate englishman - David Hoffmann, the other is home grown - Michael Moore.

Hoffmann has produced an entire book on how to locate herbal information. It is called THE INFORMATION SOURCEBOOK ON HERBAL MEDICINE pub Crossing Press 1994 which deals with precisely the issue in hand....use it to determine for yourself what an accurate source is..

Michael Moore's work is available in several books ( see FAQ) and importantly he has made several valuable texts available by ftp for those with that facility...

Both these outstanding herbalists are leading educators and original contributors, who recognise the need to provide reliable accessible information - DH by publishing the above book, and MM by making texts freely avaiable on the net. Where do they get their info from?

Apart from direct clinical training and years of clinical experience ,you will find both utilise the historical sources of US Herbalism particularly the Eclectics,- Ellingwood, Felter and Lloyd, Scudder, Culbreth and so on as well as to a lesser extent the physiomedicalists, Cook, Thurston, etc. Many of These titles are available in reprint from the Eclectic Medical Publishing Co in Sandy, Oregon.Ask your library to order them - they are expensive. Personally I would recommend these sources over most contemporary potboiler texts anyday. Naturally, both authors use modern scientific research also, but in context.

Two other modern texts of note are Herbal Medicine - by Dr R Weiss, and Out of the Earth by Simon Mills (FNIMH) for those interested in more depth.

I believe D Hoffmann has an excellent correspondence course but I do not have an address for it - he also teaches at CIIS. Michael Moore gives regular courses at The South West School of Botanical medicine in NM. There is no substitute for working directly under the guidance of experienced herbalists such as these, and growing, gathering, harvesting, processing and using the plants for yourself.

Finally - its probably adviseable to regard most of what CC posts to this group with a hefty dose of skepticism - although its obvious that this is only my opinion - you too are free to worship at the shrine of the cybernetic madonna should you wish.

So - now I will

> quit your bloody viscious arguing

(whatever that is) having endeavoured to provide something more useful than rather lamely proffering two conflicting references from books on my shelf.

jonathan


From: camilla.primenet.com (Camilla Cracchiolo)

Jonathan Treasure (jtreasure.jonno.demon.co.uk) wrote:
: May I respectfully ask you READ the preceding posts, or reread them, and then supply the documented evidence that
: a) valerian is an abortifacient,
: b) valerian has caused miscarriages
: c) deaths caused by use/abuse of ephedra, hypericum and valerian respectively.
: If you cannot provide this evidence, please withdraw your claims, or admit they are based upon on your own - no doubt otherwise immaculate - imagination.

I see that you didn't bother to read the abstracts at the end of Fred Shaw's article on valerian. Valerian is a mutagen by the standard test used to determine mutagenicity, which involves inducing a particular mutation in salmonella bacteria (the Ames test, in other words). Mutagens, in addition to possibly being carcinogenic in humans, are also most likely teratogens, (inducers of birth defects). It's reference #13,

Von der Hude, W; Scheutwinkel-Reich, M; Braun R.' Bacterial mutagencity of the tranquillizing constituents of Valerianaceace roots. Mutation Research, 1986, Jan-Feb 169 (1-2): 23-7

As to the ephedra deaths, I'll have to go dig them up, but there were a couple of kids in Ohio who died a while back. The FDA has other reports.

Camilla Cracchiolo, RN camilla.primenet.com


From: p_iannone.pop.com (Paul Iannone)

Camilla Cracchiolo <camilla.primenet.com> wrote:
: As to the ephedra deaths, I'll have to go dig them up, but there were a couple of kids in Ohio who died a while back. The FDA has other reports.

Ephedra deaths is not ephedrine deaths. I believe you are confused.

--Paul || p_iannone.pop.com


From: jtreasure.jonno.demon.co.uk (Jonathan Treasure)

camilla.primenet.com (Camilla Cracchiolo) wrote:
>I see that you didn't bother to read the abstracts at the end of Fred Shaw's article on valerian. Valerian is a mutagen by the standard test used to determine mutagenicity, which involves inducing a particular mutation in salmonella bacteria (the Ames test, in other words). Mutagens, in addition to possibly being carcinogenic in humans, are also most likely teratogens, (inducers of birth defects). It's reference #13,

Come on Camilla, don't be obtuse...

Even you have to accept

1. Herbs are NOT the same as isolated compounds.
2. Animal studies are NOT human studies.

Your ref is about isolated compounds on BACTERIA - not even rodents. (sigh......)

The reference PROVES nothing about VALERIAN the HERB, let alone its actions on the pregnant HUMAN UTERUS.

My issue was that the poster SJOSEPH claims Valerian causes miscarriages and death. Of course you would leap to her aid since she's playing your tune, but as I said before - try a bit harder, the record is wearing out. I notice you are now subtly implying that Valerian is carcinogenic as well. Never give up do we?

Incidentally - ANY trained herbalist regards pregnancy de facto as a contraindication for herbs if one could put it that way round - except for nutritive tonics such as nettle and alfalfa and uterine tonics like raspberry leaf and (toward term) Squaw vine.

Before you go too far with your research into Ephedra deaths BTW, you will have to bear in mind that pharmaceutical OTC preparations for anti-cold, anticongestion etc containg Ephedrine are freely on sale in the USA. Hopefully you'll be lobbying the manufacturers as well as the poor readers of this newsgroup. (In fact a recent attempt in Texas by state authorities to ban Ephedra containing herbal preparations was thwarted on precisely these grounds...)

If you do start to think about OTC pharmaceuticals, perhaps you'll mention to everyone here how many ER admissions are caused in first world countries through poisoning with aspirin / acetaminophen / paracetamol and other freely available NSAID's. Answer TENS OF THOUSANDS PER ANUM. What is the major cause of fulminant hepatic failure (ie transplant or die liver disease) - the same compounds of course. 85% of all UK liver transplants in the last ten years were necessitated by the effects of these drugs. (figures from Royal College of Physicians, 1994) All approved by your FDA, our MCA etc for OTC self medication.

Almost makes Comfrey look like a liver tonic to me.

jonathan



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