Natural Health News – Last week the UK medicines regulatory government, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency ( MHRA) issued a statement calling for the withdrawal of products from the St. John’s wort some market.
What this means for users of St. John’s wort?
Eight products in total, produced by ASDA, Superdrug and HRI good humor, were subject to “ preventive withdrawal ” because they had levels of toxic alkaloids (AP) above the threshold recommended by the Committee herbal medicines (HPMC), a body of European experts.
If you have never heard of the AP before here is a little information.
About 3% of flowering plants contain a group of chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA); which they are part of the natural plant defense against insects. Comfrey, coltsfoot, borage, horse and ragwort have been identified as having particularly high levels of PAs.
where pollution begins
is important to understand that PAs are not on the plant itself the St. John’s wort. Pollution is likely to be the result of accidental collection of bad local herbs – probably ragwort -. During the harvest
This type of crop contamination is not just a problem with St. John’s wort, other herbs may be affected. Good agricultural and collection practices as defined by the World Health Organization, are the best way to avoid such contamination.
What you need to know
“ The UK medicines regulator government (MHRA) has recalled some products containing St. John’s wort as a precaution. The products contained higher levels of safety of natural origin, but these toxic alkaloids (AP).
“ As AP ingested in high concentrations over a long period are toxic to the liver it is a sensible precaution.
“ AP are present in about 3% of all flowering plants and can be found in both medicinal herbs, foods and animal feeds. Levels vary widely due to a variety of factors.
“ If you’re using St. John’s wort, you should look for products that guarantee to be free PA or consider using all dried herbs and tinctures to reduce their potential exposure.
According to European Medicines Agency AP they occur in nature in more than 6,000 plants. The amount of AP in plants can vary greatly depending on the plant species and variety, growing conditions, part-time and harvest the plant.
storage and processing also have an influence. It is believed, for example, which mature and dried comfrey leaves, harvested at certain times of the year, they contain little or no AP. According to a report by the European Food Safety Authority in animal feed containing levels of alpine ragwort AF may fall during storage in a silo due to fermentation.
occasional, small amounts of AP odds are harmless to the body. However, large or oral taken for long periods of time AP can cause liver problems in humans doses. Symptoms of liver problems include yellowing of the whites of the eyes and / or skin, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, abdominal pain and unusual tiredness.
In both medicinal and food products
Recent studies have shown that human exposure to PAs can occur through a number of routes including herbal preparations and medicinal teas cereals and grains (for both human consumption and animal), honey, food supplements and salad leaves, and drag to milk. However, unlike those of herbs and medicines, there is no international regulation of AP in food.
At the same time, the safety thresholds have been reduced which means that more products could be considered as potentially toxic.
Research suggests that St. John’s wort works similarly to standard antidepressants, but with far fewer side effects. As such, it is a popular choice for those who want to control their symptoms more naturally.
all St. John’s wort products in the UK are authorized by the MHRA. This license is given on the basis that herbal medicine is safe to an acceptable level, provided it is used according to package instructions.
is interesting that the European Authority of Medicines noted in its report that although several incidence of toxicity have been cited in the scientific literature, “no, data substantial long-term monitoring to assess whether exposure to, Pas unsaturated toxic results in increased incidence of chronic liver disease or cancer in humans. ”
Good practices and tips
However, it is reasonable to keep exposure to the AP as low as practicable. The real concern here is with oral preparations. Children, the elderly and those with liver disease are more easily damaged by the AP, and the fetus is particularly susceptible.
There is little evidence to show that PAs are absorbed significantly from dermal applications, but again in doubt the precautionary measures for vulnerable people apply.
AP can also be removed by manufacturers that use a chemical-free process (ion exchange), which detracts from the extract but the AP and 2-3% of its minerals. The quality of these free extracts of PA is not compromised by this process. Worth searching out information on the label of extracts from comfrey, coltsfoot, butterbur who say that the product is free of PA (ie, contain less than 1 ppm AP).
If you are using St. John’s wort, as with most medicinal herbal products, it is not an argument that you get what you pay for. Search quality herbal tinctures or entire powder, to reduce the possibility of adulteration.