Sunday, March 12, 2006

Herbalist Column

Below is a letter to my local newspaper sent this morning after seeing an interview with their new weekly columnist. I hope they take up the challenge and allow me to put the other side of the story.

However, I'm not holding my breath.

Dear Sir,

I note in your newspaper today, that you have a new column to appear each week written by a local herbalist.

If your new columnist continues with the misleading information that was contained in this week's newspaper, I fear that many people in Mackay could have their health placed at serious risk. There are good reasons that alternative medicine is so-called. If the various herbs worked as claimed, they would cease to be classified as alternative and become part of mainstream medicine. Most herbal remedies have not gained acceptance into mainstream medicine as they have failed to show proof of efficacy.

When something is proven to work, such as willow bark for pain or purple foxglove for blood pressure, mainstream medicine determines what is contained within the herb that works and provides a safe, known dosage of the active ingredients. This is the way in which we now enjoy the benefits of aspirin and digitalis. Other herbs have not been purified and used in mainstream medicine, because they just don't work.

I'm sure you have been advised that herbs are harmless and that no harm can come from taking these natural substances. I remind you that tobacco, arsenic and even uranium are "natural". Even the herbs that pose no threat to a person's health can be dangerous. A study at St Vincent's hospital in Sydney revealed that women with operable breast cancer who tried alternative medicine had their cancers become inoperable by the time they decided that the alternatives were not working. This delay to try herbal treatments effectively caused the death of the women in the study. This highlights one the main dangers to people's health of using herbal treatments or any other kind of alternative treatment.

I urge you to carefully check the information contained in each article for factual accuracy. If required I can provide detailed information including studies, clinical trials and articles from medical journals that show the scientific data about various herbal and other alternative treatments.

Alternatively, I would be prepared to write each week placing the truth before your readers so they can then make an informed decision. The health of your readers is too important to be left at risk.


Kevin Paine

"There is only one truth. How we interpret that truth is called belief."
"The existence of belief does not indicate the presence of truth"


At Sunday, March 12, 2006 1:16:00 pm, Blogger Clark Bartram said...

Good luck with that. Unfortunately the media doesn't seem to put much emphasis on the truth when it comes to topics such as this. That doesn't mean give up though. Check out James Randi's latest newsletter at for an inspirational story of the ability of one skeptic to make a difference.

At Saturday, April 29, 2006 11:25:00 am, Blogger Do'C said...

Well done Kevin. Although I agree with Clark's opinion of mainstream media in general, skepticism counts. Make sure to write to that herbalist directly, encourage him to address your questions in his column.

At Tuesday, December 12, 2006 5:13:00 pm, Blogger Kevin Paine said...

Re-Posted: bob vaughan said...

Why don't you beleive in alternative medicine? My site is a good place to start.
alternative complementary medicine

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 5:03:24 AM

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