- Question from EmmLo: How do I know the quality of the Chinese herbs I get is safe?
There is no oversight necessarily. The FDA only responds if there are complaints or actual cases where something bad has already happened. Then they will go and ban the substance, such as Kava-kava.
You're not going to know ahead of time that there may be a potential problem, so you're going to have to rely on a good practitioner. There's not necessarily any standardization of the ingredients, and you don't know the source of the material.
Take ginseng, for example—you don't know as a consumer or patient where it came from or how it was processed so it's hard to know if a batch was tainted. There was an herbal treatment for prostate cancer called PC-Spes which was effective until the California Department of Health Services discovered the herbs were tainted with Western drugs, DES [diethylstilbestrol] and tranquilizers. So issues like standardization and quality control may be a problem with herbs as it's not a highly regulated market. You have to go by your practitioner, the source from where you're getting it. Unfortunately the oversight is not completed yet.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Traditional Chinese Medicine featured Raymond Chang, M.D. and moderator Beth Baughman Dupree, M.D., F.A.C.S. answering your questions about how to discuss Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with your cancer doctor.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2005.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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