Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorJody W.ZylkeMD, Contributing EditorIndividualAuthor
To the Editor: Dr Ang-Lee and colleagues1 note that the World Health Organization (WHO) recorded
approximately 5000 suspected adverse effects associated with herbal products
prior to 1996. Although these numbers may seem to imply that herbs are dangerous,
they actually confirm the relative safety of botanicals. According to WHO,
botanicals are used as a primary source of medicines for the majority of the
world's population, representing billions of dosage units. In the same time
period, WHO reported more than 2 million adverse events for all drugs. The
majority of adverse events were interactions between herbs and conventional
drugs. In most of these reports, no distinction was made as to the causative
agent. Therefore, the pharmaceutical drug was potentially responsible for
many of these events.
Upton R. Use of Herbal Medications Before Surgery. JAMA. 2001;286(20):2542–2544. doi:10.1001/jama.286.20.2542
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