Friday, June 18, 2004

Notes on Herbal Remedies
Natural ≠ Safe

A recent article in the LA Times reports on hazards associated with herbal sex aids.  This brings to mind a couple of reasons to be concerned about herbal products and dietary supplements. 

Potential dangers may be hiding in herbal sex aids
Timothy Gower
June 14, 2004

[...] Canadian researchers underscored these concerns in May with an alarming report. An analysis of herbal preparations touted as sexual enhancers found that some contained drugs prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction.

Dr. Neil Fleshner of Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital came up with the idea for the probe when lab analyses by two groups in the United States showed that batches of PC-Spes — an herbal product used by men with prostate cancer that was taken off the market in 2002 — contained synthetic drugs used to fight cancer. (Officials at the company that made PC-Spes said they didn't know how the adulteration occurred.)

Fleshner and his colleagues purchased seven products on the Internet, which they found by plugging the phrase "herbal Viagra" into a search engine. A lab analysis revealed that one contained real Viagra, while a second was laced with Cialis, another erectile dysfunction drug.

The potential danger from this adulteration is obvious: Viagra and Cialis can be toxic and even fatal if taken with certain other common drugs. In particular, men who use nitrates to relieve chest pain caused by angina could suffer a deadly drop in blood pressure. [...]

The full article  (free registration required) has some valuable safety information about herbal products in general.  However, the author of this article missed two very important points, which I elucidate at The Rest of the Story.