What do you get when you ask two very distinguished mainstream doctors to write an opinion piece on herbal remedies and alternative medicine in a mainstream medical journal?
Well, let’s put it this way: You’re not going to find them singing the praises of these natural approaches to healthcare.
The witch hunt continues
In a commentary piece, published in the journal EMBO Reports, two researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Stony Brook University said that the UK, the US, and other Western countries are in the grips of a herbal medicine renaissance “sparked initially by individuals and groups who promote ‘natural’ healing, commercial interests in advertising and sales of herbal products.”
That’s rich coming from two doctors both employed by research universities who are heavily funded and supported by Big Pharma…
A case in point:
A study soon under way at Baylor College will be testing four different types of widely prescribed diabetes drugs used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. The purpose of the study is to “guide” doctors about the best treatment for diabetes.
And at Stony Brook, one of the many clinical trials “offered” to potential participants is sponsored by the pharmaceutical company Astrazeneca ? the company who manufactures the best-selling statin drug Crestor.
In their EMBO article, the researchers call for tighter regulation and the harmonisation of the herbal remedy industry, as well as more research into proving the effectiveness and safety of many remedies that have been used for centuries.
One of the researchers, Dr Donald Marcus, pointed to studies that demonstrated the plant Aristolochia’s threat to human health. Aristolochia is believed to cause aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN), a condition that can lead to renal failure and cancers of the urinary tract.
This is true.
However, the risk of cancer is only seen in people who are genetically susceptible ? when they consume Aristolochia it can lead to the formation of complexes between a compound in Aristolachia and DNA in renal tissues. These complexes lead to mutations in tumour suppressor genes, which in turn initiate the process toward kidney cancer.
As a result of this potentially dangerous side effect, Aristolochia has been banned in many countries. Rightfully so. The risk of cancer is not something anyone wants to play around with.
However, tarring all herbal medicines and alternative remedies with the same brush all because one showed a potential cancer risk (in some people), seems a bit biased (and ill-informed) to say the least.
If alternative health proponents dare criticise Big Pharma’s snake oil poison in the same way, we are forced into silence with the same old lines: All drugs have side effects. The benefits far outweigh the risks.
In fact, hideous drugs like Vioxx and Avandia nearly took decades to be withdrawn from the market, after causing countless deaths! Then there are cholesterol-lowering statin drugs with an ever-growing list of side effects ranging from kidney failure to liver dysfunction… and yet these drugs are still being prescribed to millions of people across the globe.
Aristolochia on the other hand went to the gallows in next-to-no-time. But trust me, if it was a pharmaceutical drug, it would’ve taken ages to be removed from the market… if ever.
The truth is, alternative medicine and natural remedies are often far safer, gentler, less toxic and more effective than the large majority of pharmaceutical drugs.
Big Pharma cannot debate this point because, by its own admission, “all drugs have side effects”… and in most cases one single drug comes with a long list of side effects, not just one.
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Published online ahead of print, DOI: 10.15252/embr.201642375, “Global hazards of herbal remedies: lessons from Aristolochia.” By Arthur Grollman and Donald Marcus