This information has come to me via my professional body. It seems, from what is here, that attempts where made to fabricate information with respect to the safety of herbal medicine. Information, which was later used as the basis for the EU legislating THMPD. Those responsible do not serve the public interest and would appear to have misused their position of authority and trust. If you cry wolf too often...soon no one will listen anymore.
I am not surprised by this at all. It seems information was fabricated to excuse our involvement in Iraq. When millions and billions of pounds in profit are involved what do you expect.....integrity? The Green Man.
The latest news in on the SR front is that the Alliance for Natural Health, which previously
hosted the EHTPA’s petition for SR, has now published a major report that completely
undermines the EHTPA’s false argument.
The underlying theme of the article is in line with the challenge to the ANH that Sandy made
earlier in the year, that forced them to back down over one and withdraw one of their
postings on the subject.
Print outs of the text are available and I can e-mail out more copies if there are not enough to
The ANH has the following article on its website about the Aristolochia case. This case still forms the main
argument used by the pro-SR lobby to illustrate how dangerous herbs are, which is perhaps remarkable
when one reads the article. Maybe the pro-SR people simply do not believe the ANH, are choosing not to
believe them, or just haven't read the article. The article calls on everyone to spread this news far and wide,
so why not do so?!
"Chris Dhaenens: the truth about Aristolochia Dr. Dhaenens lives in Belgium and is a specialist in
toxicology and pharmacognosy of Chinese herbs.
Chris Dhaenens of the EBF then spoke on the technical aspects of the THMPD. He detailed for MEPs many
of the ways in which the Directive is unsuitable for its purpose of regulating all forms of herbal medicine,
regardless of tradition. With no products designed for use in Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine
(TCM) yet registered under the scheme, something has clearly gone terribly wrong.
Chris Dhaenens presenting at the European Parliament
The key part of Mr Dhaenens’ presentation concerned the Chinese herb Aristolochia fangchi and the origins
of the current regulatory problems. Many readers will be familiar with the story: back in 1990 in Brussels,
Belgium, the very seat of the EU, 135 of around 15,000 people given a preparation containing Aristolochia
as a slimming aid suffered irreversible kidney damage. The problems were attributed solely to Aristolochia,
and a new condition was named in honour of the case, so-called “Chinese herb nephropathy” or CHN. We
can see the direct results of the Belgian cases in the threat to herbal medicine posed by the THMPD, which
was originally designed to ensure that similar cases did not occur again.
Mr Dhaenens and his colleagues have spent 20 years looking closely into the Aristolochia case. As trained
TCM practitioners and scientists, they were shocked that Aristolochia was implicated for CHN, given that
they had prescribed it to thousands of patients in that time without a single episode of kidney failure. As it
turns out, the ‘Aristolochia cases’ are nothing of the sort, and CHN has been entirely mischaracterised. As
time has elapsed and more evidence has emerged over what went on in the clinic, it seems there may have
been a cover-up and malicious intent to damage the reputation of herbal medicine and allow the doctors to
walk away unscathed. The story looks more and more like the plot of the latest bestselling thriller!The dangers of orthodox medical arrogance – not of herbal medicine
Mr Dhaenens told the audience that all 135 cases came from a single clinic in Brussels over a period of 5
months. Closer inspection revealed that the cocktail in question was prescribed, not by herbal practitioners
trained in TCM and use of the Chinese pharmacopoeia, but by orthodox medics entirely unskilled in the
herbal tradition with which they were dabbling.
In Belgium and throughout the EU, “authorised health-care professionals” – usually doctors and pharmacists
– can prescribe unlicensed medicines, including herbal medicines. This gives medical doctors the ability to
prescribe any herbs they wish, despite often not knowing their radix from their stamen!
The doctors prescribed Aristolochia as a slimming aid, an indication not found in any Chinese
pharmacopoeia. As Mr Dhaenens stated, “The Aristolochia case is the best example we can find that herbs
should not be used out of their context.” Not only that, but the cocktail they prescribed contained several
amphetamine-like substances – many of which have since been legally restricted for their danger to human
health. Mr Dhaenens emphasised that Aristolochia can be toxic under normal circumstances, but that this
toxicity is both acute and reversible and never leads to irreparable kidney damage. As an added bonus for
their patients, the doctors gave them a big dose of intravenous serotonin. Given such a potent brew of
circumstances – doctors prescribing outside their competence a mixture of substances that included
amphetamine-like ingredients, many of which are now banned, along with serotonin – it is quite amazing
that the investigators managed to blame the kidney failure entirely on Aristolochia fangchi.
Aristolochia not to blame
But the real bombshell was to follow. Three court cases have occurred since 1993, the findings of which
have never been publicised. All three judgements in these cases were unequivocal in stating, in Mr
Dhaenens’ words, “There is no connection between the pathology of the victims and the herb Aristolochia,
and that other scenarios should be investigated. That’s what we did for 20 years, and now scientific research
establishes that…probably ochratoxin is at the root of this problem.”
Regulation built on a fallacy
Think about that for a moment. The cases of irreversible kidney damage attributed to a single Chinese herb,
Aristolochia, had nothing to do with Aristolochia. Yet these cases were used to justify the regulatory
framework represented by the THMPD, a framework that has since been skewed in such a way that it now
threatens entire herbal traditions with extinction in the EU as well as EU citizens’ freedom of choice and
self-determination. The skewing is such that the Directive does not even provide a suitable regime for the
very traditions it was supposed to regulate! The root of the Belgian ‘Aristolochia problem’, as it happens,
had everything to do with orthodox medical doctors working outside their competence, prescribing herbs in
a cavalier manner with no respect for the traditions from which they came.
This is probably the biggest untold story in herbal medicine – ever!