Do You Know What's in Your Herbal Remedy?

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by agalisgv, May 8, 2012.

  1. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Last month Australian researchers published results determining the contents of a cache of confiscated traditional Chinese medicines being smuggled into the country. Among other things, traces of endangered species were found to be mixed in.
    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/12/breaking-down-traditional-chinese-medicine/


    Now South Korean officials are saying some herbal remedies being smuggled into the country from China contained traces of dead human babies:
    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sidesho...containing-powdered-flesh-dead-190306280.html


    :scream:
     
  2. Alixana

    Alixana who is on vacation!!

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    stomach turning
     
  3. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

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    ICK....
     
  4. Buzz

    Buzz Well-Known Member

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  5. BittyBug

    BittyBug Kiteless

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    I know this may seem extreme, but after the first few crazy contamination incidents (melamine in milk, toothpaste, etc.) I will no longer consume anything that is made in China. Period. End of story.
     
  6. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    You are not alone, as there are many who have little faith in the standards of products produced in China. We were shopping for upholstery recently, and when I noticed that one of the fabrics was made in China, the sales person was quick to offer alternatives, saying that many customers are making that choice.

    But here's the scary part - you may be consuming all kinds of things that include ingredients produced in China, from auto parts to fabric and foods dyes to concentrated fruit juices that are then reconstituted elsewhere, and labelled as "made in" that country. As I understand it, most countries only require the final production/packaging to take place in their country for the label to say "made in USA" or England or Canada etc. The ingredients and parts may very well be from places with far lower standards.

    And for that matter, who is regulating all this our own countries? The Canadian Food Inspection Agency for example, has always been vastly understaffed - there simply aren't enough plant inspectors, veterinarians and customs inspectors to ensure that every product that comes into the country or for that matter is produced in Canada is safe. And, in the most recent federal budget, the CFIA was cut severely, so there are even fewer resources.

    I think people place far too much faith in the government to keep us all safe; if these issues concern you, you really have to dig a lot deeper in making choices of what you and your family (including pets) eat and consume.
     
  7. MikiAndoFan#1

    MikiAndoFan#1 Well-Known Member

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  8. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    Dead babies are not likely going to make you sick due to processing, however disgusting but some products imported from China contain things that will. Lots of herbs are adulterated with medication that is not listed in the ingredients list.

    Regulation of Chinese exports and Chinese herbs in particular is vital but non-existent. I have a handful of Chinese herbal pharmacies whom I trust and who mostly grow their herbs in the US. It's a mess, to say the least. DO NOT go to your local Chinatown and buy herbs from a vendor you don't know. Only a licensed practitioner should Rx them and they should be careful of their sources.

    Many US schools of Chinese medicine have pledged not to use animal products of endangered species. However, animal products are used in Chinese medicine and have been for centuries. So if you are a vegetarian and are thinking of getting Chinese herbs, check with your practitioner.
     
  9. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    This kind of makes me laugh. It shouldn't. But it does. Because my idiot sister-in-law preaches about the purity of all things Asian to us all the time. She buys all kinds of Chinese herbal medicines from very cheap sources and considers them to be so much purer than anything American or European and capable of providing her with some sort of spiritual depth as well as medicinal purposes.

    Of course, she also thinks yoga will cure my hereditary vision issues.
     
  10. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    Your sister should not be buying Chinese herbs on her own unless she is a licensed practitioner!!! :scream:

    How does she know her sources are good? How does she know she is taking the right herbs in the right doses? This is dangerous.

    When someone like her gets in trouble, Chinese medicine gets the bad rep, just like this dead babies stunt.

    Then everyone will start screaming that Chinese herbs are dangerous. Of course they are, in the hands of ignorant and untrained, they are biologically active substances, after all. Just like Western medicines are dangerous in the hands of laypeople. And there's that contamination/adulteration issue that is not controlled by the FDA. I have a full account of where the herbs come from. Does your sister?
     
  11. BittyBug

    BittyBug Kiteless

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    You are right and I do. There also seems to be an awakening about shining some light on our supply chains - whether it's for food, clothing, electronic parts, or whatever. It's a trend I hope will continue.
     
    Jenny and (deleted member) like this.
  12. PDilemma

    PDilemma Well-Known Member

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    1--She is not my sister. She is my sister-in-law. I prefer not to biologically claim her.
    2--Because she has read a few random books, she considers herself qualified in this area. As well as many others.
    3--Since she has read some books and is a certified yoga teacher (which takes all of 18 Sunday afternoons of training), she considers herself so well qualified in all kinds of things that she now runs "seminars" at her coffeehouse to impart her knowledge to other people on topics such as chakras, yoga, nutrition, herbal medicine, sports injury, muscle problems, orthopedic problems, positive thinking, self-improvement, co-dependency (although, given her relationships, we figure she is an expert on how to be co-dependent), and more. They run about $200 a person for four hours of her "wisdom" and she has a sad little following of about five women that show up for every one and sometimes bring friends.

    I know you have written here at FSU about the desperate need for more regulation of herbal medicines. She is example one of why more regulation of a lot of health related issues is needed.
     
  13. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    If it comes from China, I won't eat it or put it on my skin. I don't trust their safety standards one little bit.
     
  14. danceronice

    danceronice Corgi Wrangler

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    Even if you grow your own herbs, it's hit and miss as to how many of the active chemicals each plant produces. And while the stuff from China is more likely to contain CITES violations and actively harmful padding ingredients, the 'herbal supplements' made and sold in the US are equally unregulated and just as likely to contain wildly varying amounts of the 'active' ingredients, lots of inert fillers, and absolutely no third-party scientific validation of their claims. Hence why they can't legally call them medications.

    At least, though, none are likely to contain dead human bits. (I agree, that's probably not going to hurt you, but it's not very psychologically reassuring.)
     
  15. Jenny

    Jenny From the Bloc

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    True, and same goes for vitamins. Interesting article on the validity of vitamin supplements - this quote really stood out for me:

    As Michael Pollan says, if you want to get the nutritional benefits of beta carotene, instead of looking for supplements and products that are fortified with it, just eat a carrot.
     
  16. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    Herbs have a relatively large therapeutic window, although it varies from herb to herb and only a trained practitioner knows what is safe.

    The herbs and herbal preparations from certain companies here in CA have a transparent process. Not so much in China.
    As to validation, if anyone is interested I can cite studies from respected research institutions showing efficacy of certain herbs for certain conditions. I wouldn't make sweeping statements.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
  17. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    What herbal companies in CA do you consider reputable, IA?


    ETA: Well, really that's a question for anyone--what places have people found to be reliable? I heard of one that was touted as good, but recently saw they were under investigation from the FDA for mislabeling products.
     
  18. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    I know what else I do not trust -- the stuff sold as nutritional stuff for athletes, especially the little known brands, and any of the weight loss supplements. Way too often there are repots that these things contain unlabeled drugs or stimulants. No thank you.
     
  19. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    Implying that because some Chinese herbs suppliers are in hot water, they all or most are untrustworthy sounds like the worst kind of stereotyping.
    Properly operating companies would not sell herbs to a layperson.
     
  20. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

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    I'm definitely not a pill-popper, and what happened to a friend of mine is a big reason why - my friend is vegan, and she needs to take vitamins because a vegan diet often does not impart all the nutrients you need to thrive.

    For about three months, she threw up every day, didn't know why she was so sick. Turns out her normal daily vitamin had changed its filler formula and she was allergic to something in it. :yikes:

    Thankfully, she's vegan for animal rights issues, not health issues. Cause it would be rather stupid to be vegan for health issues but have to take a vitamin with who-knows-what in it in order to be healthy. :p
     
  21. Susan1

    Susan1 Active Member

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    Please don't tell me anything about grape seed extract, Health Foods Unlimited brand!!!! It seems to really be helping!
     
  22. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

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    Prudence, I think. In the same way that I wouldn't -- even before the "pink slime" thing -- buy ground beef from supermarkets other than Costco (who tests their ground beef proactively) or Whole Foods (which grinds the beef in small batches multiple times a day in our store.) And I only buy honey from small, local producers, since many of the major brands of honey apparently include many substances that are not honey, and which have not been accurately sourced according to scientists who have examined the pollen.

    China still seems to be a place where anything goes until it doesn't, and I don't see any reason to risk my health with Chinese foods/supplements. Nothing against the Chinese as people -- they are far more harmed by adulterants and impurities than I would be. How many kids died or were permanently injured in the milk adulteration scandal?
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2012
  23. Allskate

    Allskate Well-Known Member

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    I don't think you can generalize from that one article about all vitamins and all health conditions. Sometimes supplements are both necessary and effective.

    Not everyone can get all their nutrients through diet. It's not just vegans and vegetarians who need to supplement vitamins like B12. A lot of people, especially people who are older or have a variety of digestion problem like celiac or Chron's, have trouble absorbing some vitamins and would have to eat massive amounts of food to get enough.

    I recently found out that I am severely deficient in vitamin D. (I thought I was doing the healthy thing by avoiding the sun and using sunscreen.) I am fair-skinned with a family history of skin cancer, so I am not willing to get all my vitamin D from the sun. I would have to drink a heck of a lot of milk to get enough vitamin D. There is very clear medical evidence showing that supplements of vitamin D work. So, right now, I'm on prescription vitamin D capsules, which are presumably regulated, but I fully intend to take over the counter vitamin D once the prescription pills get me to a healthy level. The deficiency has caused me a lot of health problems. (I highly recommend that anyone who avoids the sun consider whether they have adequate D levels because a deficiency can cause a lot of problems and doctors aren't always good at catching it.) But, it's true that I already have wondered what a reputable and reliable source would be for those vitamins. I wish they were regulated.
     
  24. agalisgv

    agalisgv Well-Known Member

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    Has anyone found a source to be reputable and reliable?
     
  25. centerstage01

    centerstage01 Well-Known Member

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    I have the same issues. I'm very fair skinned and avoid the sun as much as possible because I fear skin cancer. Thus, a Vitamin D problem. (People in my family think I'm strange, I think I'm being pro-active. Plus, I don't look like a leather handbag unlike some relatives.) I was on prescription Vitamin D for a while, but my doctor said it's back up to reasonable levels that I can maintain with an OTC vitamin.
     
  26. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    Prudence above everything, I couldn't agree more. Also, if I were in China and were offered acupuncture, I would politely decline. Their needles are not single use and I know people who had come back with some nasty infections. And then there are movies like 9,000 needles that tell a different story.

    In California it is illegal to use non-disposable needles.
    A reputable and reliable source would not sell herbs to general public, as mentioned.
     
  27. Allskate

    Allskate Well-Known Member

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    I think agalisgv said that in reference to my statement that I was looking for a reputable and reliable source of vitamin D, not herbs.

    centerstage, have you found a good OTC source for vitamin D?
     
  28. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    Wouldn't a drug store be a reputable source of vitamins? CVS? Walgreens? People should be careful with fat soluble vitamins--it's possible to overdose.
     
  29. centerstage01

    centerstage01 Well-Known Member

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    I'm just using an OTC Vitamin D that I was recommended at Walgreens. Nothing fancy about it. Nature's Source I think it's called. I'm not home at the moment so I can't check, but if it's something different I'll change that.
     
  30. Allskate

    Allskate Well-Known Member

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    Better than random Chinese herbs, but vitamins from a drug store are not necessarily reliable. Vitamins are not regulated by the FDA and studies have shown that many of the common OTC vitamins don't necessarily contain what they say they contain. Also, some are junkier than others because the vitamins are not in a particularly useful form for our bodies. I'd like to know which is a more reputable vitamin brand because I want to get what I think I'm getting (and not get what I think I'm not getting, like gluten). A few years ago, a friend of mine who is allergic to dairy had a terrible response to something that didn't list dairy as an ingredient.

    I have a very low level of vitamin d and am following doctor's instructions, so I'm not likely to overdose or get a toxic level of vitamin d. But, it would be nice, when I start taking OTC vitamin D, to be sure that the bottle is correctly stating what the dosage is.