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Title: Herbal Medicines : Are they safe?
Authors: Parle, Milind
Bansal, Nitin
Keywords: Herbs;Cardiotoxic;Contaminants;Hepatotoxic
Issue Date: Feb-2006
Publisher: CSIR
IPC Code: Int. cl.7 A61K 35/78
Abstract: The herbal drug industry is growing at an astounding rate all over the world. Herbal remedies are now available not only in drug stores, but also, in food stores and supermarkets. Therefore, the efficacy and safety of herbal drugs is very crucial. One of the most serious hazards associated with herbal medicines is that consumers mistakenly assume that since herbs are obtained from nature, they must be safe. However, herbal medicines need to be used with utmost caution. Strychnine, curare and morphine are a few examples of poisonous alkaloids obtained from plant source. Ginkgo biloba Linn. has been shown to be beneficial in managing Alzheimer’s disease, but is recently reported to precipitate epileptic seizures. No doubt, many herbs are found to be miraculous cures for several diseases such as vincristine for cancer treatment and codeine as an anti-tussive agent. The authors are of the view that before marketing, herbal remedies must undergo animal studies and clinical trials so as to establish their therapeutic value. This has become important, since Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act 1994 have included herbs along with vitamins, as food supplements. Thus, FDA has almost lost its control over herbal drugs. There is a need to ponder over some basic issues such as uniform nomenclature, authentication and standardization of plants and plant parts, acceptable impurities, contaminants, pharmacokinetic profile and shelf life before advocating herbal remedies.
Page(s): 6-14
ISSN: 0975-1092 (Online); 0972-592X (Print)
Appears in Collections:NPR Vol.5(1) [January-February 2006]

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