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Herbal remedies escape EU law
Date:8/8/2011

ell known health food stores, three large chain pharmacies, and three pharmacies at supermarkets. All of the products are known to have potentially harmful effects for some people.

St John's wort can reduce the effectiveness of the contraceptive pill and Ginkgo can increase the risk of bleeding. Asian ginseng is not suitable for people with diabetes and Echinacea can cause allergic reactions. Even garlic can cause problems for some people because it can thin the blood and interfere with drugs used to treat HIV.

The information provided with these products was compared to safety information, provided by the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and was evaluated for completeness and accuracy regarding precautions, interactions with other drugs, and side effects.

The researchers found that 93% of the products evaluated were unlicensed, and consequently not required to meet any standard of safety information provision, and over half of these were marketed as food supplements. Only 13% contained an information sheet and only three contained an acceptable amount of safety information.

"Consumers need reliable and comprehensive information when buying herbal medicines information which tells them whether it is suitable for them," Professor Raynor said. "I would advise anyone buying a herbal medicine to check that the box or packaging contains the 'THR' logo, which shows that the information it comes with has been approved.

"Herbal medicines should, ideally, be purchased where trained staff are available, so that consumers can have any questions answered. This information should be available from pharmacists. People should also always tell their doctor about herbal medicines they are taking, so they receive the best possible care."


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Contact: Paula Gould
p.a.gould@leeds.ac.uk
44-011-334-38059
University of Leeds
Source:Eurekalert

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