Medicinal Herbs Are Held to a Higher Standard Than Big Pharma's Poisons
Big Pharma's drugs, still wet behind the ears compared to medicinal herbs, are given preference over herbs—in spite of pharmaceuticals' lack of safety and efficacy—while the people's needs, desires, and rights languish.
by Heidi Stevenson
1 May 2011
As the EU's draconian directive to drastically limit our access to medicinal herbs takes full effect today, it needs to be noted that nature's remedies will now be held to a higher standard than drugs produced by Big Pharma. When drugs are approved, the last consideration is whether they interfere with the actions of a herb or food. However, herbs are now expected to name all potential interactions with drugs—and the drugs receive preferential treatment over the herbs!
The New Demand on Herbs: An Allegory
Imagine that you make a living selling toothpaste made from natural products. Your toothpaste is popular, with thousands of people relying on it for their dental health without any complaints and no adverse effects. Imagine further that you are carrying on a family tradition that goes back four generations. You, your family, plus your employees and their families, rely on your product for a living.
One day, a pharmaceutical company makes a drug that interferes with your product's effectiveness. Their drug also doesn't work as intended when people use your product. In a rational world, the new product would be forced to point out to its customers that their it interferes with your toothpaste, giving the customer a choice between using the drug or the toothpaste, or if they're so inclined, to risk using both.
That would be rational. But instead, what happens is that the drug company, with the help of the media, the medical system, and the government, declares that your toothpaste is a dangerous product that interferes with their drug, so it should be banned. At the very least, they demand that access to it be limited to only those companies that can afford to go through an expensive process to get it listed.
Such an approach is obviously absurd. Yet that is precisely what is now happening to all medicinal herbs. Their utility and safety, known for hundreds – often thousands – of years is being declared null and void. The welfare of the people who've depended on them, either for their livelihood or their health, is utterly ignored. Pharmaceutical drugs, which are both newcomers and nearly all poisonous, are setting new rules.
A Humble Herbal Example
As a result, St. John's wort, a herb long known for its ability to ease stressful times in life, is vilified. It's claimed by Big Pharma and their cohorts to contains a drug, and that St. John's wort interferes with prescription drugs. The implication is that the pharmaceutical is, somehow, more legitimate. So, the long and safely used humble herb cannot be sold unless it's been through a ridiculous registration process that costs an enormous amount of money, an amount that will put nearly all suppliers of St. John's wort out of business.
This is precisely what the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) is doing. It is stealing our birthright. It is demanding that medicinal herbs take a back seat to pharmaceutical drugs, the vast majority of which are highly toxic—and which almost certainly cause far more harm than benefit—on top of which, they are newcomers.
Medicinal herbs, products of nature that have been safely used with excellent health results by millions of people, are now treated as nothing but competition to pharmaceutical drugs, with the drugs having priority over the herbs.
Effects on Small Business
Not only is it a theft of our birthright, it is also a theft of people's livelihoods. Mamma Earth, a top-notch supplier of herbal products, choosing to sell only the highest quality, is going out of business because their products will not be available under the THMPD. This is a tragedy for people who have relied on the quality of what they sell, for those who are employed by Mamma Earth, and for their suppliers.
The THMPD Propaganda
Yet, the standard line is that this egregious directive is for our own good! The BBC reports the Chief Science Advisor to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society as saying:
Crucially, this EU directive and the registration scheme puts consumers in the driving seat so they can identify that a product meets assured standards on safety, quality and information about safe use. Safety speaks for itself, but quality means, are they using the right part of the plant? Is it free from contamination? Is the claimed shelf life suitable? Product information will include possible side effects and interactions with other drugs, but above all it must make very clear that it is based on traditional use.
The driver's seat? They are actually trying to claim that up is down! Exactly the opposite is happening. The consumer is being eliminated almost completely eliminated from the picture. The consumer, who had obviously been in the driver's seat by virtue of having access to nearly all medicinal herbs as s/he saw fit, is now losing access to nearly all of them. Yet, in the doublespeak directed by Big Pharma, they're claiming that the opposite is happening!
Of course, medicinal herbs are competition for the Pharmaceutical Society, so it's no surprise that they are twisting the nature of herbal health care to make it sound like it's the same as drugs.
Note the there's an implication that issues of contamination are just now being addressed. That is far from the truth. There has been adequate law to protect the public from contamination. The only thing that's been missing is adequate oversight.
Notice also that herbal medicines are treated as if they were drugs. They aren't! They are natural combinations of symbiotic substances. They are not artificial constructs, like pharmaceuticals. They carry centuries and eons of history with them. Their safe use is known, and anyone who has wanted information about them has been able to get it.
In the wake of thousands of bodies from Big Pharma's drugs, the exceptionally rare negative effect from medicinal herbs is grotesquely inflated. Nowhere do these self-proclaimed "protectors of the public health" put it in perspective. Nowhere do they note that nothing is completely safe. Even drinking water can be abused. People can, and do, die from drinking too much of it. Yet, we don't demand that access to drinking water be limited. That's obviously ridiculous—yet that's exactly what's happening to our medicinal herbs.
Help Stop the Loss of Our Rights!
The Stop the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Directive Petition is as relative and important now as it was before the official date of implementation. Nothing less than full repeal of the directive is adequate to stop this stealth thievery of our right to health. Amending the THMPD would be agreement with the concept that such regulation and limitation of access to medicinal herbs is appropriate. Yet, no such thing has been demonstrated. Indeed, medicinal herbs have been among the safest products ever known. So, please, if you haven't already, sign the Stop the THMPD Petition now: