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July 17, 1991

Maternal Use of Ginseng and Neonatal Androgenization

Author Affiliations

Health and Welfare Canada Bureau of Drug Research Ottawa. Ontario

Health and Welfare Canada Bureau of Drug Research Ottawa. Ontario

JAMA. 1991;266(3):363. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470030063021

To the Editor.  —Koren's reply1 to my letter,2 which mainly dealt with his confusion of ginseng (Panax) and so-called Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus), reveals a lack of appreciation of the regulatory problem regarding identity of commercial plant products. I did not mean to express doubt about the mother's medication being Siberian ginseng, but merely to indicate that there was no sound basis for assurance in the declared botanical identity. This condition prevails everywhere in the world today.It is proper that the consuming public expect drug regulatory agencies to do all that is possible to ensure the proper identity, quality, and safety of marketed products. But the situation of commercial plant products presents a daunting challenge. It is usually extremely difficult to determine botanical identity from powdered material in which most of the plant morphological features have been destroyed; formulation into tablets, extracts, and multicomponent mixtures presents an even