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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Matters of the Heart

Yes, it is heart month and with that comes the latest attack on herbal remedies at the behest of Big PhRMA, CNN, and Time-Warner's medical mainstream
While the ABC was contacted and interviewed for the article, nothing was given to provide the risks of the anticoagulant warfarin or statin drugs used as examples in the article. lists 20 herbs in their article and I will follow up with my comments on the drugs and the benefits of their 20 selected herbs.
Included in the list is garlic.  And of course you know that CNN's own Larry King uses a garlic supplement for his heart condition, and has advertised it for years.Garlic is one of the best herbs for blood thinning as well as being an excellent source of magnesium to help keep blood pressure levels down.
Stay tuned...
And now - here's that retort to CNN and
Natural Health News: Continuing the Attack on Natural Health Care
By Gayle Eversole, Dhom, PhD, MH, NP, ND, and

Today, CNN and Time-Warner's published articles warning you to avoid 30 herbs if you are taking drugs like the allegedly cholesterol lowering statins and “blood-thinning” Coumadin (warfarin).,,20340370_20,00.html

As an inveterate and intrepid nurse practitioner (over 30 years), medical herbalist and otherwise expert and advocate in natural health (50+ years), I am staking my claim to equal time and offering a second opinion.

Statin drugs by and large are a class of very expensive drugs with a range of mixed results. The very serious effects of these drugs include liver failure, sudden cardiac death, increased risk of cancer, kidney failure, destruction of CO-Enzyme Q 10 and specific B vitamins needed by the heart, muscle pain and destruction, as well as being questionable over all because they appear not to serve the purpose described in the advertising according to many recent studies.

There are many natural approaches to lowering cholesterol including changes in diet and exercise, as well as making sure your thyroid is functioning properly.

One common supplement to help lower cholesterol is lecithin.' s expert Bill Benda MD says he has no knowledge of the benefit of lecithin yet suggests using red rice yeast. Red Rice Yeast is LOVASTATIN and has the same risk of rhabdomyolysis leading to kidney failure as do the Rx strength drugs.

Each tablespoon (7.5 grams) of lecithin granules contains about 1700 mg of phosphatidyl choline, 1000 mg of phosphatidyl inositol, and about 2,200 mg of essential fatty acids as linoleic acid. It also contains the valuable omega-3 linolenic acid. These constituents should be supllied daily.
Rinse, Jacobus (1975) Atherosclerosis: prevention and cure (parts 1 and 2). Prevention. November and December. Very important reading. Ask your librarian to get you these specific issues (or photocopies) through inter-library loan.
Rinse, Jacobus (1978) Cholesterol and phospholipids in relation to atherosclerosis. American Laboratory Magazine, April.
Glabridin shows a significant 10 percent drop in LDL cholesterol levels. These studies show a 20 percent reduction in oxidized LDL cholesterol and measures of oxidative stress, well-known risks for development of atherosclerosis. No change in these predictive markers, was seen in the placebo group.1
Glabridin is a powerful polyphenol flavonoid derived from Glycyrrhiza glabra L root (licorice). Animal studies have revealed that daily doses of glabridin can suppress abdominal fat accumulation and blood sugar elevation in diabetic mice, while human trials show that it can reduce weight gain and body fat—especially visceral or belly fat. And according to another recently published clinical trial, this botanical extract packs the same punch against LDL cholesterol, too.
1 Carmeli E, Fogelman Y. Antioxidant effect of polyphenolic glabridin on LDL oxidation. Toxicol Ind Health. 2009 May-Jun;25(4-5):321-4.
Herbs and foods included in the report that help thin the blood naturally include: Garlic, saw palmetto, ginkgo, green tea, alfalfa, ginger, bilberry, fenugreek, ginseng, Butcher's Broom and capsicum (cayenne).

The report did not explain that long term use of aspirin or warfarin increases the risk of silent bleeding, ulcers and the severe risk of destruction of the cell wall membrane and clotting disorders.

Statins, beta-blockers, and calcium-channel blockers can be effected by St. John's wort, Echinacea, grapefruit juice, and Black Cohosh. But remember that statins come with the risk of liver damage. Calcium channel blockers can cause sudden death at one point were almost taken off the market because of the risk. Beta blockers have come into question for safety and efficacy in recent years.

Hawthorn has been shown to strengthen the contractions of heart muscle, which may interact negatively with prescription heart-failure medications. Hawthorn has always been a first line of defense for heart health in herbal medicine. I have worked with many people who lived with heart health issues. I've always found Hawthorn to be a key factor in their improved quality of life.

Night blooming cereus and Lily of the Valley may also be an experienced herbalist' s choice for cardiovascular care.

Yohimbe can elevate blood pressure and at times and for some people this would be helpful, but in general it is not one I often suggest.

Aloe vera can effect potassium levels. Licorice can interfere with digoxin and it can raise blood pressure. Like aloe vera, it can also cause a dangerous drop in blood potassium levels.

Other herbs in the study mentioned in this report include Butcher's broom, angelica, capsicum (cayenne), fumitory, gossypol, Irish moss, kelp, khella, lily of the valley, ephedra, night-blooming cereus (cactus flower), oleander, and strophanthus can all interact negatively with heart medications.

Health care is your choice. Natural remedies like herbs and supplements can do an effective job helping you heal when you do not wish to choose or cannot tolerate prescription drugs.

Because doctor's work for you, the question must be asked: When will today's medicine and today's doctors meet you half way and support natural choice?

Always stay in communication with your health provider and contact an experienced herbalist or naturally oriented doctor for additional resources.
Reinforcements from the field

ABC Responds to Article on Herb-Drug Interactions in Journal of the American College of Cardiology
2010/02/03 - American Botanical Council

Article should be retracted and corrected says herbal science group

(Austin, TX) February 2, 2010. At least several times per year an article is published in a medical journal that purports to provide health professionals and the public with useful information on the safety of herbs and herbal dietary supplements. Instead, what sometimes occurs is an article written by people with apparently little to no expertise in the subject area of herbal medicine and medicinal plant research and likewise apparently peer reviewed—if peer reviewed at all—by reviewers with little botanical knowledge or expertise. Yesterday, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology published such an article.1
This particular article has so many flaws and errors that it is difficult to know where to begin to critically review it.

First, Latin names for the herbs discussed are missing, a disservice to any readers who may not be familiar with common names used in the United States.

Second, some of the tables in the article contain entries for “commonly used herbs,” which include the toxic plant oleander (Nerium oleander, a toxic herb with cardioactive glycosides not sold to consumers in the US dietary supplement market); chan su (presumably dried Chinese toad venom—not an herb nor generally available as a dietary supplement!); and Uzara root (Xysmalobium undulatum, an anti-diarrhea herbal drug approved in Germany.) None of these are “commonly” found in the US herbal dietary supplement market.

Grapefruit juice, which is well known for increasing serum levels of many pharmaceutical drugs, is referred to as an herb.

The authors refer to “ginseng” without clarifying to which species of the genus Panax they are referring, many of which cause varying pharmacological effects. Also, with respect to ginseng, the authors unfortunately repeat the highly erroneous adverse effect information from the widely discredited 1979 uncontrolled study by RK Siegel on the “Ginseng Abuse Syndrome,” stating that “ginseng” can cause “hypertension, behavioral changes and diarrhea.”

Capsicum is listed in a table as being used for shingles, trigeminal, and diabetic neuralgia, when it is actually the US Food and Drug Administration-approved over-the-counter and prescription drug capsaicin, the vanillanoid compound derived from chili peppers (Capsicum spp.), which is used for such purposes.

There are more; the errors and problems in this paper are too numerous to list completely at this time.

While there are potential and actual interactions that various herbs can have with drugs used by patients with cardiovascular diseases, this paper will do little to improve professional awareness and skill in this area. However, the resulting media coverage will undoubtedly increase public confusion over what is an already confused subject. This paper should not have been published in its present form without serious additional edits, revisions, and deletions, and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology would be advised to retract it.


Tachjian A, Maria V, Jahangir A. Use of herbal products and potential interactions in patients with cardiovascular diseases. J Amer Coll Cardiol. 2010;55(6). [DOI:10.1016/j.jacc.2009.07.074].

About the American Botanical Council

Founded in 1988, the American Botanical Council is a leading international nonprofit organization addressing research and educational issues regarding herbs and medicinal plants. ABC’s members include academic researchers and educators; libraries; health professionals and medical institutions; government agencies; members of the herb, dietary supplement, cosmetic, and pharmaceutical industries; journalists; consumers; and others within over 70 countries. The organization occupies a historic 2.5-acre site in Austin, Texas where it publishes the quarterly journalHerbalGram, the monthly e-publication HerbalEGram, HerbClips (summaries of scientific and clinical publications), reference books, and other educational materials. ABC also hosts HerbMedPro, a powerful herbal database, covering scientific and clinical publications on more than 220 herbs. ABC also co-produces the “Herbal Insights” segment for Healing Quest, a television series on PBS.

ABC is tax-exempt under section 501(c) (3) of the IRS Code. Information: Contact ABC at P.O. Box 144345, Austin, TX 78714-4345, Phone: 512-926-4900. Website:

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