Is Herbal Medicine More Accepted?

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Interviewer:  As much as natural medicine has grown over the past ten to 20
years, is there still a stigma out there that herbal medicine is just
voodoo and crazy, stuff out there that you have to get past?

Dr. Upton:  Only in certain segments, but probably in Bible belt Midwest,
not to stigmatize, because a lot of people do have that very conventional
mindset. On the other hand, from the society at large, I believe that we've
actually turned that corner. Now the challenge is a little different.
Whereas before people were looking at this as a wives' tale, voodoo,
whatever it be.

Now they're convinced that there's benefit in the herbs, but the biggest
challenge is, "What brand do I use? How do I tell a good one from a bad
one?" Because today there's a research article that comes out that says how
wonderful St. Johns Wood is, and then six months later there's a research
article that says it's no good. Then, there's a newspaper article that
says, "Oh, yeah. We tested St. Johns Wood and it didn't meet what it was
supposed to be on the label."

Or Dr. Dean Edell comes on and says something about - that you shouldn't
use gingko because it can cause interactions with blood-thinning
medication, which is really not a clinically relevant interaction, but that
scares people. So there are two things. There's a lack of confidence in the
quality of the products that are on the market, and then there's a lack of
clarity as to, "Is it really safe? Which one should I really use and how
should I use it? Most importantly, for the conventional folks. We don't
have a problem with the core.

There's a core herbal consuming group that it doesn't matter what the FDA
says, it doesn't matter what Dean Edell says the more they don't like it
the more the core is going to use the herbs. On the other hand, there's
also a strong fear of herb/drug interactions, which is actually overblown
when you look at the world's literature.

It's an extremely safe category of goods, but that's a considerable fear,
both among patients and among healthcare practitioners, physicians who will
be the first ones to tell you, "Don't use these types of herbs while you're
doing chemo or radiation therapy for cancer. Don't mix heart tonics with
anti-hypertensives," things like that. Definitely the blood-thinning
medications has been a big area of fear for a lot of physicians.
Roy Upton is the Executive Director of the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. He discusses the stigma that herbal and natural medicine have had to deal with in past years. He also discusses how the practice is now more acceptable and how some of the misconceptions about the industry might be overblown.

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