Are Chinese herbs safe?
Yes, Chinese herbs are safe. Like most exported products from China, exported products have a higher quality than domestic products. The herbs are also tested for toxicity and quality control purposes when they arrive into the UK and Europe.
Practitioners and herbalists use a yellow card system to alert the Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (HMAC) of any problems with a possible herb. Researchers are actively looking at herbs and their reactions in humans and with other substances.
No endangered species are used in the UK or Europe.
How are herbs checked to see if they are safe?
Herbal medicine has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Over the last 3-5 thousand years people have worked out switch herbs are good for health and which ones aren't.
The MHRA has put in place the Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee (HMAC). This new body has the same ranking as the Committee of the Safety of Medicines. If any question concerning herbal safety arises, HMAC will determine whether dry herbs are safe or not, based on current evidence. The HMAC committee is made up of people from Ayurveda, TCM, Western herbal medicine and pharmacologists.
Are Chinese herbs safe for fertility?
Yes, Chinese herbs are safe for fertility if they are prescribed by a herbalist who knows you are trying for a baby. Herbs can help with various fertility problems including male sperm count and blocked fallopian tubes.
Make sure you tell your TCM practitioner that you are trying for a baby. Research has shown that they can enhance your fertility and increase your success rate of having a baby.
Self-prescribing may change your hormone balance and damage your fertility if you don't know what you are taking. Always seek a qualified herbalist if you are unsure.
Are Chinese herbs safe during pregnancy?
Yes, Chinese herbs are safe for pregnant women if prescribed by a herbalist who knows that you are pregnant. Chinese medicine during pregnancy is perfectly safe and has been used in oriental medicine for thousands of years.
If you are self-prescribing using herbs bought over the counter, then you may inadvertently harm your baby as not all herbs are safe to take during pregnancy. They may upset the hormonal balance of the foetus, causing problems. Pregnant women should always consult a qualified herbalist before taking any herbs.
If the herbs are prescribed by a qualified herbalist who knows you are pregnant, then the herbs shouldn't harm your unborn baby and should be safe to take. They can actually support a growing baby and help it thrive during pregnancy making sure it grows according to schedule. Herbs can also help with various pregnancy related problems.
I've helped several women who's baby is not growing enough with Chinese herbs. In only 2 weeks the baby bounces back to its correct size. I've also prevent many miscarriages by using Chinese herbs during pregnancy.
Distortions by the media
You might have read or heard bad things about the safety of Chinese herbs in the media. For example, steroids being added to herbal pills or people suffering kidney and liver failure.
In China, medicine has been unified for over 60 years ago, so both western pharmaceuticals and Chinese herbs are used together for fast and effective treatments. Unfortunately, some of these herbal products were shipped to western countries where the medicine practiced there is not unified, causing problems and bad press.
Some years ago, a group of Belgium western medicine doctors were using herbs without training to help their patients loose weight. Because they weren't qualified herbalists, they used the wrong herb, which caused their patients to suffer kidney and organ failure, some even died. This is why herbal medicine should be regulated but yet still isn't.
Are there any side effects?
There are seldom any side effects, just the bad taste. A herbal formula can only make your problem worse if the herbalist got the formula completely wrong, which seldom happens.
Other possible side effects include an upset stomach if you take the herbs on an empty stomach. You should always take herbs an hour after food.
Each herbal formula is tailor-made to the patient's needs, unlike western pharmaceutical drugs where one size fits all (actually the majority not all).
Everyone is different and so every Chinese herbal formula is different. As it's more suited to the individual's body and their needs they are less likely to cause any side effects.
Pharmaceutical drugs are concentrated, so are fast acting but the down side is they cause side effects.
Are Chinese herbs regulated?
In the UK and most of Europe, herbs are not regulated. However, unlike acupuncture, people can't just claim to be a herbalist unless they have undergone through training.
In Canada and Australia herbs are regulated and certain standards of training must be meet in order to practice herbal medicine.
Herbs can be dangerous and for that reason herbal medicine should be regulated in the UK. Most good TCM practitioners are members of the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (RCHM).
A lot of people self medicate or buy herbal supplements after receiving advice from a nutritionist Herbs are more than foods and have an effect upon the body and therefore health. Always consult a well qualified herbalist before taking any herbs.