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  1. #1
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    Do You Know What's in Your Herbal Remedy?

    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.
    Traditional Chinese medicine often contains a number of animal and plant components that are meant to act synergistically to treat a particular ailment. Only a small number of products have been scientifically validated, with their perceived efficacy instead promoted through folklore and word of mouth. Researchers have a found number of traditional Chinese medicines to be adulterated with drugs of known pharmacological activity, presumably to increase their effectiveness.

    ...Dr. Bunce and his colleagues analyzed 15 traditional Chinese medicines confiscated by customs officials at the Australian border, including powders, tablets, capsules, bile flakes and herbal teas.

    ...They found goat, sheep, deer, buffalo, cow and toad DNA, in addition to endangered Saiga antelope and vulnerable Asiatic black bear. Both of the latter species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, which includes China among its 175 signatories.

    ...Over all, 78 percent of the samples contained animal DNA that was not labeled in Chinese or English on the packaging. Saiga antelope horn powder, for example, claimed to be 100 percent pure, yet was laced with traces of goat and sheep.
    http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/...nese-medicine/


    Now South Korean officials are saying some herbal remedies being smuggled into the country from China contained traces of dead human babies:
    The South Korean government revealed Monday that it recently seized thousands of capsules filled with the powdered flesh of dead babies. Reportedly, some people believe the powder has medicinal purposes and was created in northeastern China.

    ...According to the Korea Customs Service, the bodies of dead babies are

    Spoiler

    The customs officials have refused to say exactly where the babies come from or who is responsible for making the capsules.
    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow...190306280.html



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    ICK....

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    More on those tablets that contain powdered human flesh.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...aby-flesh.html

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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.
    "I miss footwork that has any kind of a discernible pattern. The goal of a step sequence should not be for a skater to show the same ice coverage as a Zamboni and take about as much time as an ice resurface. " ~ Zemgirl, reflecting on a pre-IJS straight line sequence

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    Quote Originally Posted by BittyBug View Post
    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.
    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.

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  8. #8
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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.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

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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.

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

    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?
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    ....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.
    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.
    "I miss footwork that has any kind of a discernible pattern. The goal of a step sequence should not be for a skater to show the same ice coverage as a Zamboni and take about as much time as an ice resurface. " ~ Zemgirl, reflecting on a pre-IJS straight line sequence

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    Quote Originally Posted by IceAlisa View Post
    Your sister should not be buying Chinese herbs on her own unless she is a licensed practitioner!!!

    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?
    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. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by BittyBug View Post
    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.
    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. #14
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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. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    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.
    True, and same goes for vitamins. Interesting article on the validity of vitamin supplements - this quote really stood out for me:

    It’s not the micronutrients that are the problem; it’s the form they come in, says Jeff Coombes, an antioxidant researcher at the University of Queensland in Australia.

    “Food derived from an animal or plant origin is constructed over millions of years to be in quantities where the nutrients work synergistically together,” he says. “So thinking you can take the nutrients out of that package and get similar benefits is a big stretch.”
    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. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by danceronice View Post
    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.
    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 by IceAlisa; 05-08-2012 at 07:08 PM.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  17. #17
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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.

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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. #19
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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.
    "Nature is a damp, inconvenient sort of place where birds and animals wander about uncooked."

    from Speedy Death

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jenny View Post
    True, and same goes for vitamins. Interesting article on the validity of vitamin supplements - this quote really stood out for me:

    It’s not the micronutrients that are the problem; it’s the form they come in, says Jeff Coombes, an antioxidant researcher at the University of Queensland in Australia.

    “Food derived from an animal or plant origin is constructed over millions of years to be in quantities where the nutrients work synergistically together,” he says. “So thinking you can take the nutrients out of that package and get similar benefits is a big stretch.”
    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.
    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.

    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.

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