Australian CAM group Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) has issued a strong defence of the quality of herbal products following publication of a scientific review which claims that ‘light touch regulation’ of herbals pose a threat to public health.
The authors of a narrative review published in the Medical Journal of Australia write: “Some traditional herbal preparations contain heavy metals and toxic chemicals, as well as naturally occurring organic toxins. The effects of these substances can be dire, including acute hepatic and renal failure, exacerbation of pre-existing conditions and diseases, and even death.”
They add: “The lack of regulation and monitoring of traditional herbal preparations in Australia and other Western countries means that their contribution to illness and death is unknown. We need to raise awareness of these problems with health care practitioners and with the general public.”
Responding to the claims, CMA has insisted that Australian consumers can be confident in herbal products purchased in Australia.
Carl Gibson, ceo of CMA said: “Australia has some of the most stringent regulations in the world for herbal products, as for all complementary medicines on the Australian market. Products are required to be entered onto the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) which is maintained by the regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Unless entered on the ARTG, these products cannot be legally imported, exported, manufactured, or supplied to consumers in Australia.”
“Australia has some of the most stringent regulations in the world for herbal products, as for all complementary medicines on the Australian market”
“Products that are medicinal in nature but not listed on the ARTG may not have been made under GMP principles, and may not meet the quality and safety standards expected by Australian consumers. Concerns raised by the authors, such as adulteration with pharmaceutical agents, inadequate processing and the presence of toxic substances, have been known to affect products purchased online from overseas, which are not subject to the same regulations as those enforced in Australia.”
“Online purchases of complementary medicines should only be made on the recommendation of a qualified healthcare professional or from a known and reputable source,” said Gibson.