Botanical/Herbal Medicines

Terra Sigillata

Category archives for Botanical/Herbal Medicines

Rebecca Skloot, journalist, University of Memphis writing professor, and author of the upcoming book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (pre-order here), just brought to my attention this commentary by Dr Pieter Cohen in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled, “American Roulette — Contaminated Dietary Supplements.” In the commentary, Dr Cohen remarks upon the…

The Boulder County coroner announced today that the July death of a Boulder teen was indeed due to opioid intoxication from preparation of a poppy pod tea. Jeffrey Joseph Bohan, 19, of Boulder, was found dead in his friend’s Boulder home about 6 p.m. July 21 after drinking poppy-pod tea the night before with his…

Artemisinin is a natural product isolated from the leaves of the annual wormwood, Artemisia annua. Used originally in Chinese herbal medicine, the pure compound is employed in Africa as an inexpensive antimalarial drug. In April, 2009, the multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis received FDA approval for a combination drug called Coartem®, comprised of the semi-synthetic artemisinin…

In the United States, herbal and non-herbal dietary supplements can be sold without any assurance of safety or efficacy as a result of a hastily-passed, late-night, final-session piece of legislation put forth by Sen Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). (Aside: Utah has several large dietary supplement manufacturers.) This piece of legislation is named the Dietary Supplement Health…

Salvia divinorum (Salvia, Magic Mint) is a plant used for entheogenic purposes by the Mazatec people of Mexico. A relative of the common garden plant “scarlet sage” (Salvia splendens), S. divinorum contains several hallucinogens that include salvinorin A, the first non-nitrogenous agonist known for kappa opioid receptors (KOR). I had known of salvinorin A since…

FDA and the New York Times are reporting today 23 cases of adverse reactions to various Hydroxycut weight loss supplements. (FDA Consumer PDF here). Above and beyond whether the stuff actually helps with weight loss, it is clear that the products contain some compound(s) that cause idiosyncratic cases of liver damage. According to the law…

While I was all caught up today with thinking about the 95th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre and the 10th anniversary of the Columbine High School shootings, I was reminded of some lighthearted goings-on in Colorado today that take away some of the gloom on this Monday. (The Ludlow post is getting great traffic, by…

An interesting question arose the other day when we discussed the Key West acupuncturist who was diverting prescription drugs for personal use as well as in her practice. While we are not certain that the defendant put the cited muscle relaxants and anxiolytics in remedies doled out at her practice, we doubt that the demographic…

After writing this post, I came across Alex’s obituary and guestbook on Legacy.com. By all accounts, Alex was a great kid – loved and admired by many – an accomplished hockey player and musician with a love for the mountains. This could have been you or I, or worse, one of our own children. Breaking…

I just had a chance to check in on a triad of posts by Prof Janet Stemwedel at Adventures in Ethics and Science (1, 2, 3) on the ethical issues of the conduct of studies, particularly clinical trials, supported by the US NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). For background, NCCAM was…