Natural treatments may be deadly

Written by on February 9, 2010 in Home Remedies, in the news, Natural Treatments with 2 Comments

Several Australian newspapers are running a story today about the risk that comes when people self-diagnose, self-treat and buy supplements off the shelf of a supermarket.

The whole idea of natural treatments is very appealing to many rosacea sufferers. There is certainly a group of rosacea sufferers who see prescription treatments as too artificial and too likely to cause harm. As it almost always the case in matters medical, the equation is not actually that simple.

The potential for many naturally-sourced treatments to cause harm is as real as for prescription treatments.

One could even make the argument that prescription treatments have well known side effect profiles whereas the unknown reactions of natural remedies can expose rosacea sufferers to unnecessary risks.

Additionally the quality control procedures for prescription treatments ensure that users can be confident in the accuracy and authenticity of ingredients.

Do you personally believe that natural treatments pose risks to you as rosacea sufferer ?

‘Natural’ remedies can prove lethal: research


February 9, 2010

SOME popular herbal medicines can be dangerous, even lethal, contrary to the perception that they are a safe alternative to conventional medicine, a University of Adelaide researcher has warned.

Naturopaths agree that there are dangers in herbal medicines for people who self-diagnose and then ”treat” themselves with off-the-shelf products. However, they say the industry is generally well regulated.

Forensic pathologist Roger Byard reviewed the risks attached to herbal medicines in last month’s edition of the Journal of Forensic Sciences.

He said herbal products had been found to contain potentially lethal levels of arsenic, mercury or lead. Even if not contaminated, some herbs posed health risks such as liver failure, haemorrhage or heart failure.

‘People think, ‘It’s growing in the garden – green is good’ but plutonium is natural, too,” Professor Byard said. ”Part of the problem is herbs are very hard to test for [during an autopsy]. We just don’t know if this is a widespread problem, we don’t routinely test for them.”

In his paper, Professor Byard wrote that a recent analysis of 251 Asian herbal products sold in California had found arsenic in 36, mercury in 35 and lead in 24. There were several cases of young children developing lead or arsenic poisoning from traditional remedies.

Popular remedies such as ginkgo biloba, pennyroyal and ma huang can cause liver damage if overused, and a wide range of herbs can trigger heart problems.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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2 Reader Comments

  1. Auburn says:

    > Do you believe that natural treatments pose risks to
    > you as rosacea sufferer ?

    I think one needs to be very cautious, regardless.

    Herbal products that are manufactured with care tend to be expensive. Their inexpensive counterparts tend to be adulterated. And companies and individuals can claim pretty much anything in order to maximize sales.

    It seems to me that nowadays people take a lot of supplements and many would choose value over quality, perhaps in the misguided belief that “since it’s natural, why pay more for brand name.”

    Also, too much of anything can be dangerous. For example, blueberries contain many medicinally beneficial polyphenolic compounds however, when these compounds are isolated and dispensed in pill form, they can be toxic.

  2. El dictator says:

    I think what the research should highlight is the difference between supplements such as fish oils, vitamins, which are generally safe taken in the correct amounts and the lesser known “herbal” remedies and quackery such as chinese herbal remedies.

    A study here in the u.k found some chinese herbal creams contained steroids and other such nasties, un-prescribed and not listed

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