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Herbal Medications: What Does Not Work

A number of reports have appeared in the popular press recently about alleged poisonings by herbal products. Many plants do contain potent toxins, but these plants are not commonly used in herbal medicine. Only a few of the more than one thousand medicinal plants that are commonly available present any serious risk of adverse reactions.

According to a 1988 story in U.S. News & World Report, of 1.2 million reports of poison exposure in the United States, only 7 percent involved plants. Of the twelve most frequently reported plants in poisoning incidents, only one, pokeweed (Phytolacca decandra), is used medicinally. Most of the plants involved in poisonings were ornamentals, not commercial herbal products.

Nonetheless, a long history of folk use does not necessarily guarantee that a plant is safe. There is always a danger of mislabeling or contamination, and some plants do contain potentially harmful constituents. Some herbs currently available in the United States do present serious concerns.

 

 

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From THE BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier.

 

Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier, Inc.

Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.

 


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