Chinese herbal medicines ruled out by Europe

Nature, the international weekly journal of science, reports that there is a growing dependence on herbal medicines within the Western populations. These are medicines which are considered tradtional within Eastern populations and have existed for hundreds of years.

For example, we use echinacea for colds, St John's wort for depression and anxiety, and feverfew for migraines.In US, herbal products are labeled as dietary supplements and are not registered with the Food and Drug Administration. In Europe, herbal products must be registred as "traditional-use products with the regulatory agency in every EU member state in which the product is to be sold." European nations have some of the strictest regulations in the world and may be simply missing out on Eastern herbal products.

What is the the reason for this?

Back in 1990's thousands of women attending a weight loss clinic in Belgium recieved a toxic Chinese herb for weight loss instead of an intended anti-inflammatory one. Over a hundred kidney failures were reported and later, cases of cancer in the urinary system.

The problem was that the Western practioners were confused with how some of the Chinese herbal medicine is labeled and with its traditional practice. This resulted in the new regulations from the European Medicines Agency:

Herbal medicines are only eligible for licence in Europe if they provided treatment towards a certain health complaint for at least 30 years, including 15 years in  Europe.

The question in place is whether after the 1990's incident and similiar incidents, Westerners are capable of regulating medicines developed in Eastern traditions. Supporters of herbal medicines worry that strict European rules may ban certain Asian herbal medicines.

A new European regulatory framework for herbal medicines has not yet been developed.

More research needs to be invested into tradtional Asian medicines. Asian medicines "could provide important new avenues for treatment." Such avenues for treatment can be lost if political, cultural and scientific changes are not made and if Eastern and Western medical traditions do not meet accordingly.

Source:  "Regulations: Herbal medicine rule book." Nature. 2011.


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moon girl said...

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