Guys such as Ben Goldacre of the Guardian and David Colquhoun of UCL seem to have mission to destroy natural medicine in all its forms. They may be well-meaning, but they do so to the extent that their judgement and intellectual honesty are often blinded.
As a scientist myself (and not a medical herbalist), I am horrified at the misinformation these guys promulgate, and this is often because of bigotry and blatantly inadequate research.
Linda is right! Herbalists do not use foxglove. In fact, they have been banned from doing so since the Medicines Act of 1968. Goldacre is already aware of this because he knows that I was instrumental in having Colquhouns identical misinformation changed by alerting Michael McIntyre to the very same erroneous claim in his UCL Quacks Pages. (Which I have also had removed from the UCL Servers, BTW.)
Also, Goldacre seems to think that standardised herbal extracts are analogous to pharmaceutical drugs. They are not, they contain the same (or nearly identical) mixtures of chemicals as did the original plants from which they were prepared. The key point being that their composition is more concentrated, more uniform and more reproducible. (In fact, it is not unusual for the standardisation to be based on a compound that may not be pharmacologically active.)
Furthermore, the high-handed attitude that pharmaceuticals are pure chemical substances that have been scientifically tried and tested, whereas herbal preparations are not, cannot be justified in this context.
The research that has been done on allopathic-prescribed COMBINATIONS of drugs, is absolutely pathetic to point of being almost non-existent and is rarely (if ever) funded by pharmaceutical companies. How many people do you know who are taking only one prescribed drug? Not many? But individually-prescribed combinations are hardly ever scientifically tested! (And some older folk are taking as many 12 drugs! Often in individually- prescribed unique combinations that have NEVER been researched nor tested in any way!)
As for safety, check up the statistics for deaths and serious effects caused by very drugs that Goldacre and Colquohoun hold in such high esteem. It is tens of thousands! (TRUE!) Just check out http://www.scoop
. co.nz/stories/ GE0610/S00037. htm, and you will see that a New Zealand coroner did a survey on the harm caused by various types of medicine, and herbal medicines poved to be unequivocally the safetest.
I could go on and on and on!
Let Barbara Griggs, have the last word!
But herbal medicine does have one indisputable advantage in safety terms over chemical medicine, and that is the fact that almost all of its drugs have been in clinical use for centuries of recorded use, often administered by doctors competent enough to notice a particular pattern of side-effects showing up. . . . It seems reasonable to assume that any plant with a centuries-long reputation for being perfectly safe as well as effective has probably earned that reputation.
[Green Pharmacy - A History of Herbal Medicine Barbara Griggs, 1981.]
Alan (Council Member)