Another TWHC has come and gone. I’m in the back of our van, 3,190 miles into our trip, and still four hours from home. My butt hurts from all the sitting, my sciatic nerve reminding me with every bump that it requires more movement and stretching than I have given it. I’m exhausted from the travel, the teaching and the late nights with friends I don’t see nearly often enough. And I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything.
There are a number of cases of liver damage from taking Comfrey. This isn’t a theoretical issue. Some people died. Some people had liver failure.
Can you use Comfrey internally responsibly for certain issues? Probably, depending on the person, the problem, the dosage, the length of time taken, the dosage form, preexisting conditions and more.
Should it be used daily for prevention or general health? The potential for harm exist. The disease it causes is hard to identify and probably under-reported. So I believe no, you shouldn’t use it daily or long term.
I have many more thoughts on Comfrey that I’ll be writing to accompany the studies. For now, it seems like access to the full text of studies on Comfrey are more important. So here you go.
I was recently asked why I spoke out against what I consider to be useless and dangerous supplements for people with chronic illness (cancer was the specific topic). The argument was that people should just do their own research on supplements and make up their own mind; it’s their body after all.
Here’s the thing, I wholeheartedly agree with a person making their own decision about their body. On my herb walks I’ll show you the poisonous plants along with the medicinal. If you choose to eat the poisonous plants after having been shown what they look like and told about their poisonous actions, I’ll support that decision (assuming you’re of sound mind).
The problem I have is when people falsify reports, fake studies and generally prey on the average person’s lack of understanding science to sell potentially dangerous things labeled as “natural.” Most people don’t know how to read a study or find unbiased research. Even medical professionals have a hard time with this occasionally.
People in our culture place a large value on “science,” or anything that looks like science. The marketing world has taken advantage of this and frequently produces reports and articles promoting their product that appear to be based in science. It’s not just supplement and herb companies doing this! Even bloggers and home-based salespeople are taking advantage of this trend to produce marketing materials based on weak science.
There is a silent war being waged in the natural health world. The battle is between those who are genuinely interested in helping people to improve their health and those who are just pushing products without good science or even a historical tradition of use.
The foremost rule in healing is, “first do no harm.” Unfortunately, deceitful marketing propaganda often convinces innocent people that harmful things are harmless. As a result, people who are trying to heal themselves get hurt and sometimes even die.
For example, let’s take MMS, a solution of 28% sodium chlorite that degrades into chlorine dioxide when administered as directed by Jim Humble, MMS’s foremost proponent. People in the natural world have been concerned for years about the effects of adding chlorine to municipal water supplies. There is some research showing it interferes with iodine absorption and causes thyroid issues, even in the very dilute doses used. Yet proponents of MMS advocate ingesting much higher doses than are found in city water supplies.
The fact is the effects of chlorine dioxide are identical to ingesting bleach, which include nausea, vomiting, even death. Yet Humble has convinced a handful of passionate marketers and alternative practitioners that MMS will cure everything from malaria to cancer, all without a shred of evidence. This is just one of many examples of products that are being marketed by passionate proponents without real historical or scientific evidence to back up their safety or effectiveness. The sad thing about this is that it makes the whole natural health industry look bad in the eyes of reputable scientists and medical professionals as well as informed people in the general public.
So, what do you look for to determine if a product may be safe and effective versus one being marketed on hype? Here are some things to consider:
We get bombarded by a 24 hour news circuit, designed specifically (IMHO) to heighten our sense of stress.
I’ll get to the political rant in a few paragraphs, but since I’m in the healing profession let’s talk about that stress response. Note that this is a very simplified explanation of a complex process in the body. If you want to learn more I’m including links for further research. [Read more…]