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ABC Educates the Media About Herbs

In the past few months, ABC has issued numerous press releases to clarify inaccuracies in the media, and to educate the public on specific subjects. The following is a summary of these releases.

American Botanical Council Counters Inaccurate Media Reports: Herbal Supplements Do Not Contain Animal Tissue

Addresses the July 30 Reuters News Service story that wrongly implied that herbal supplements contain animal tissue. The story was based on a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine expressing legitimate concerns about the possibility that various dietary supplements containing animal tissues — so-called “glandulars” — may pose potential health risks, based on concerns about mad cow disease, etc. ABC’s release emphasized that herbs are, by definition, from plants, not animals, and are not related to this issue. (Aug.1, 2000)

Herbal Supplements Are Regulated, Says Pharmaceutical Executive: HerbalGram Article Outlines Laws and Regulations that Government Agencies Can Use to Regulate Dietary Supplements

Summarizes the article in HerbalGram 49 that addresses the myth that the herbal industry is unregulated. The article explains the four laws that govern herbs and other dietary supplements and the powers that the FDA and FTC have with regard to herbal products. (Sept. 20, 2000)


Organization Says Science Supports Benefits of Garlic: Research in 4-Year Study Shows Herb Can Prevent or Reverse Plaque Buildup in Arteries

Released following publication of a meta-analysis in the Annals of Internal Medicine that concluded that garlic (Allium sativum) was of questionable value in reducing cholesterol. The ABC release emphasized that despite questions about garlic’s ability to lower cholesterol in a clinically significant manner, there was still evidence that garlic provided other cardiovascular benefits (e.g., a four-year study that showed that a garlic preparation reduced and reversed plaque buildup in the arterial walls of patients with arteriosclerosis). (Sept. 28, 2000)

New Study Shows African Herb Devil’s Claw Reduces Osteoarthritis Pain: Research Shows Popular Herb Is As Effective But Safer Than Conventional Drug

Reported on a French clinical study that indicated that patients taking devil’s claw experienced similar benefits (i.e., reduced osteoarthritis pain in the hip) as those taking the conventional analgesic drug diacerhein, while suffering fewer side effects, specifically gastrointestinal distress. (Oct. 17, 2000)

ABC Supports Council for Responsible Nutrition Review of Safety and Benefits of Herb Ephedra

After a press conference in which CRN revealed the results of the independent safety evaluation of the herb ephedra (Ephedra sinica) by Cantox, a Canadian scientific risk assessment firm, ABC called for further review and research of the potential risks and benefits of ephedra. The release states ABC’s policy that ephedra products should be properly labeled with adequate warnings that offer full disclosure of potential risks. (Dec. 22, 2000)

Herb Experts Clarify Kava Safety

This release responded to an Associated Press story regarding concerns about people in Hawaii drinking large amounts of kava and possibly having impaired driving ability. The release clarified that kava (Piper methysticum) is generally safe as a dietary supplement when used responsibly according to label directions and that the AP story referred to kava ingestion at much higher levels (up to 20 times) than that associated with use as a dietary supplement. ABC stressed that kava has been used safely in moderation in South Seas cultures for thousands of years and that kava users must be careful when driving a car or operating heavy machinery. (Jan. 2, 2001)