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Nonprofit Consortium Publishes Review of Skullcap Adulteration
Date:2/21/2012

en some herbal products that claimed to contain it were associated with several cases of liver dysfunction. Analyses later revealed the source of toxicity to be European germander (Teucrium chamaedrys), another known skullcap adulterant.

Foster had previously written a short, non-bylined article in HerbalGram in 1985 alerting members of the industry about the skullcap-germander substitution problem.(3) In his new article, he describes a scientific paper from 1992 that first established germander as the source of harm.

"A clear chronological relationship was established between ingestion of germander and the onset of hepatitis," Foster wrote. "Liver dysfunction was reversed after use of germander products was discontinued."

"In 2010 and 2011, I gave about a dozen speeches about adulteration problems in the global herb market, and I referred to the skullcap-germander problem as an example of a former problem," said ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal. "However, I was disappointed to read the report from the USDA scientists this past summer showing that skullcap is still being adulterated with germander!"

There are those who believe that skullcap and germander may look similar, since they are both members of the mint family (Lamiaceae or Labiatae). Foster, and various herbal experts, believe that their physical characteristics are distinct enough to warrant an accurate identification with the naked eye, i.e., in the field.

According to an extensive quality control and therapeutic monograph on skullcap ("Skullcap Aerial Parts, Scutellaria lateriflora L.") produced by the nonprofit American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), the relatively comparable appearances of skullcap and other herbs can lead to accidental adulteration.(4) The AHP monograph states, "Skullcap has historically been adulterated with various species of the potential hepatotoxic germander (Teucrium canadense, T. c
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SOURCE American Botanical Council
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