Yep. In this week’s BMJ, is an advert for a ‘vacancy for a member’ for the Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee , which advises the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency on the ‘safety, quality and efficacy of herbal medicinal products for human use.’ Of further concern to me is that they wish their newly appointed member to have recent experience in paediatrics.
Herbal medicines are, if they work, nothing special – St John’s Wort, aspirin (willow extract), vincristine, a chemotherapy drug, which is derived from plants….they all have side effects and interactions with other drugs. In fact, one could say that herbal medicines which work are in fact just medicines, to be used with the same provisos as any other medicines.
These leaves the ‘other’ herbal medicines as the ones which don’t work. And which, by definition, we should be ensuring either aren’t used, or are properly researched so that we know whether they should be or not.
What is gained by having a Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee? Obfuscation, and the danger of having a different set of standards for one set of chemicals compared to another, I suggest.