Herbal Remedies Are An Overlooked Global Health Hazard

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Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine, please share your comments below…..

didyouknow?Millions of people around the world use herbal health remedies, following a tradition that began millennia ago. Many believe that herbs are safe because they have been used for many years, but researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Stony Brook University are raising awareness that long-term use of herbal remedies is no guarantee of their safety. The invited commentary appears in EMBO reports.

Dr. Donald M. Marcus, professor emeritus of medicine and immunology at Baylor, and Dr. Arthur P. Grollman, distinguished professor of pharmacological sciences at Stony Brook University, discuss the scientific evidence showing that the plant Aristolochia can cause aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN). People with this condition experience interstitial nephritis, renal failure and cancers of the urinary track.

The authors remark that in Taiwan, according to the national prescription database, between 1997 and 2003, 8 million people were exposed to herbals containing Aristolochia. Studies of patients with renal failure and cancer in Taiwan and China show that tens of millions of people in those countries are at risk of AAN.

In genetically susceptible people, consuming Aristolochia can lead to the formation of complexes between aristolactam, a compound in Aristolachia, and DNA in renal tissues. These complexes lead to mutations in the TP53 tumor suppressor gene, which in turn initiate the process toward kidney cancer. Additional studies have shown that this process may also lead to the development of cancer in the liver and the bladder.

Marcus and Grollman indicate that other herbals and traditional medicines are responsible for severe adverse events in Africa and Asia, but in these cases epidemiological data are lacking.

Although Aristolochia has been used as a herbal remedy for more than 2000 years, “the intrinsic toxicities were not recognized, owing, in large part, to the latency period between exposure and the onset of symptomatic disease, and, in part, to genetic determinants that confer susceptibility to only approximately 5 percent of those exposed to this herb,” said the authors. The long-term scientific study of AAN revealed the association of the disease with Aristolochia.

Almost all carcinogens and many toxins require a long period of time before symptoms appear. This makes it very difficult for a layman or a professional to identify a particular compound as the cause of an illness when it was taken months or years earlier.

“The history of Aristolachia indicates that other herbs that have been used for a long time may also have toxic and/or carcinogenic compounds,” said the authors. “It is prudent to assume that many herbs may contain toxic or carcinogenic substances that can cause subsequent health problems for humans.”

Marcus and Grollman disagree with the World Health Organization’s endorsement of the use of traditional herbal remedies on the premise that traditional medicine is of proven quality, without mentioning the lack of scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of herbal remedies or their demonstrated hazards, as in the case of Aristolochia.

The authors emphasize that their primary concern is “the prevention of toxicities associated with herbal medicine and not a categorical rejection of traditional healing practices. Herbal remedies pose a global hazard. We encourage the global health community to take actions that will evaluate both long- and short-term safety, as well as the efficacy of botanical products in widespread use.”

The authors declare having no conflict of interest.

Overlooked Blocks To Successful Weight Loss And Good Health

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By Ann Musico

weightlossballtextSo often people contact me for help losing weight and that is their sole focus. I understand that being overweight impacts a person’s life in so many ways and they naturally tend to see losing that weight as the “answer” to their problem. However, in reality, those extra pounds they carry are simply a symptom – the fruit if you will. Unless they address the root of the problem, the reason they became overweight to begin with, they will never have long term success in reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.

Three of the most overlooked roots are stress, shame and self-image. We are bombarded with stress daily from multiple sources. Physically from injury, illness; environmentally in our foods, water, air; in our thoughts, relationships and emotions as well as in our spirits. Stress is a toxin! Unless it is acknowledged, addressed and resolved in some way, it will cause us to sabotage our best efforts.

Shame keeps us constantly aware of our shortcomings, controlling our lives by keeping us in that negative loop. It tells us this is what we’ve done and who we are and will always be – and that is a lie. One teacher I heard expressed it beautifully – we must become aware of separating our “who” from our “do.” We are human beings, not human “doings.”

A strong sense of self-worth is one of the most important ingredients to a successful life in all areas, including vibrant health. It makes perfect sense that if you don’t feel you’re worthy, you won’t make a consistent effort to take good care of yourself. Self-image powerfully drives your decisions.

So what can you do? Here are three simple things:

yogaposeFirst something as simple as taking five quiet minutes for yourself can short-circuit stress. Stop periodically, breathe slowly and deeply and practice gratitude. Studies show even a small action changes your view of yourself and when you feel better, you will be more likely to repeat it.

Then intentionally become aware of your thoughts, which affect your health as powerfully as food, exercise and water. It takes 6-10 seconds for a thought to take root and release chemicals into your body. Keep thinking that thought for 7-10 days and you believe it is truth – whether it is or not! The thought is intensified when you combine it with emotion! Keep a list of your self-talk and then take steps to replace the negative with truth.

Last, something as simple as increasing the amount of clean water you drink improves your ability to process emotions. Spirit, soul and body are all interconnected so you must address all three.

Here’s my takeaway: You are already a success regardless of the number on the scale. Success is the sum of small efforts repeated daily, so with each baby step in the right direction you are building success, not trying to achieve it.

– Ann Musico is a holistic health coach who helps women, at every age, to exemplify lives of vibrant health and wholeness – spirit, soul and body. Her mission is to show women how to adopt a healthy lifestyle in a way that is simple and achievable, empowering them to take responsibility for their own health in order to be a positive influence on their families. You can visit her website at threedimensionalvitality.com There are numerous free resources and you can learn more about her book, Today’s the Day Seven Week Fitness Plan, products and coaching.