Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Primary Care

Interaction of St John's wort with conventional drugs: systematic review of clinical trials

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 01 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:27

Rapid Response:

Herbs are potent

As a person who uses herbs for himself regularly to treat illnesses
and increase a sense of well-being, energy, and maintain health, I find
the responses interesting. Herbs are potent. According to Chinese and
Ayurvedic traditions, incorrect use of herbs can cause harmful effects.
This, of course, refers to ordinarily beneficial herbs. To gleen some
competence in herbal medicine, one must look to authentic herbal
traditions, the Chinese and Ayurvedic being the most well-known though
hardly the only reliable ones. I do not think that one can state that SJW
*cannot* have side effects of the nature that other people have espoused.
Nor, do I think that the established medical-scientific industrial complex
can be trusted to properly regulate herbal medicine. Mixing herbal
therapies with Western drugs requires expertise for two reasons: one is,
do no harm; two is, do benefit. Both require caring and expertise on the
part of the practitioner. I can only speak for the US, where I live. We
need competently trained herbalists, and this means students are trained
by competently trained herbalists, and this means seeking out those with
an authentic tradition in herbal medicine.

Competing interests:
I am an employee of a pharmaceutical company.

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 February 2005
Barry L Parnas
Research Chemist and Licensed Massage Therapist
St. Louis, MO