Herbal products have gained increasing popularity in the last decade, and are now used by approximately 20% of the population. Herbal products are complex mixtures of organic chemicals that may come from any raw or processed part of a plant, including leaves, stems, flowers, roots, and seeds. Under the current law, herbs are defined as dietary supplements, and manufacturers can therefore produce, sell, and market herbs without first demonstrating safety and efficacy, as is required for pharmaceutical drugs. Although herbs are often perceived as “natural” and therefore safe, many different side effects have been reported owing to active ingredients, contaminants, or interactions with drugs.
Unfortunately, there is limited scientific evidence to establish the safety and efficacy of most herbal products. Of the top 10 herbs, 5 (ginkgo, garlic, St. John’s wort, soy, and kava) have scientific evidence suggesting efficacy, but concerns over safety and a consideration of other medical therapies may temper the decision to use these products.
Herbal products are not likely to become an important alternative to standard medical therapies unless there are changes to the regulation, standardization, and funding for research of these products.
herbal medicine; efficacy; safety; regulation
Herbal ingredients in a Chinese fufang prescription are often replaced by one or several other herbal combinations. As there have been very few Chinese herbal patent infringement cases, it is still unclear how the Doctrine of Equivalents should be applied to determine the scope of 'equivalents' in Chinese fufang prescriptions. Case law principles from cases in other technical areas such as chemical patents and biological drug patents can be borrowed to ascertain a precise scope of a fufang patent. This article summarizes and discusses several chemical and biopharmaceutical patent cases. In cases where a certain herbal ingredient is substituted by another herb or a combination of herbs, accused infringers are likely to relate herbal drug patents to chemical drug patents with strict interpretation whereas patent owners may take advantage of the liberal application of Doctrine of Equivalence in biopharmaceutical patents by analogizing the complex nature of herbal drugs with biological drugs. Therefore, consideration should be given to the purpose of an ingredient in a patent, the qualities when combined with the other ingredients and the intended function. The scope of equivalents also depends on the stage of the prior art. Moreover, it is desirable to disclose any potential substitutes when drafting the application. Claims should be drafted in such a way that all foreseeable modifications are encompassed for the protection of the patent owner's intellectual property.
In the United States, many patients, including cancer patients, concurrently take prescription drugs and herbal supplements. Co-administration of prescription medicines and herbal supplements may have negative outcomes via pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic herb-drug interactions. However, multiple constituents in botanicals may also yield beneficial pharmacological activities. Botanicals could possess effective anticancer compounds that may be used as adjuvants to existing chemotherapy to improve efficacy and/or reduce drug-induced toxicity. Herbal medicines, such as ginseng, potentiated the effects of chemotherapeutic agents via synergistic activities, supported by cell cycle evaluations, apoptotic observations, and computer-based docking analysis. Since botanicals are nearly always administrated orally, the role of intestinal microbiota in metabolizing ginseng constituents is presented. Controlled clinical studies are warranted to verify the clinical utility of the botanicals in cancer chemoprevention.
Botanicals; Herb-Drug Interaction; Colorectal Cancer; 5-FU; Irinotecan; Ginseng; Valerian; Astragalus; Turmeric; Intestinal Microbiota; Metabolites; Ginsenosides; Panaxadiol; Compound K
Inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) is a major cause of herb–drug interactions. The CYP1A2 enzyme plays a major role in the metabolism of drugs in humans. Its broad substrate specificity, as well as its inhibition by a vast array of structurally diverse herbal active ingredients, has indicated the possibility of metabolic herb–drug interactions. Therefore nowadays searching inhibitors for CYP1A2 from herbal medicines are drawing much more attention by biological, chemical and pharmological scientists. In our work, a pharmacophore model as well as the docking technology is proposed to screen inhibitors from herbal ingredients data. Firstly different pharmaphore models were constructed and then validated and modified by 202 herbal ingredients. Secondly the best pharmaphore model was chosen to virtually screen the herbal data (a curated database of 989 herbal compounds). Then the hits (147 herbal compounds) were continued to be filtered by a docking process, and were tested in vitro successively. Finally, five of eighteen candidate compounds (272, 284, 300, 616 and 817) were found to have inhibition of CYP1A2 activity. The model developed in our study is efficient for in silico screening of large herbal databases in the identification of CYP1A2 inhibitors. It will play an important role to prevent the risk of herb–drug interactions at an early stage of the drug development process.
CYP1A2; pharmacophore; docking; herb–drug interaction
Background. Clinical trials reveal that multiherb prescriptions of herbal medicine often exhibit pharmacological and therapeutic superiority in comparison to isolated single constituents. However, the synergistic mechanisms underlying this remain elusive. To address this question, a novel systems biology model integrating oral bioavailability and drug-likeness screening, target identification, and network pharmacology method has been constructed and applied to four clinically widely used herbs Radix Astragali Mongolici, Radix Puerariae Lobatae, Radix Ophiopogonis Japonici, and Radix Salviae Miltiorrhiza which exert synergistic effects of combined treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Results. The results show that the structural properties of molecules in four herbs have substantial differences, and each herb can interact with significant target proteins related to CVD. Moreover, the bioactive ingredients from different herbs potentially act on the same molecular target (multiple-drug-one-target) and/or the functionally diverse targets but with potentially clinically relevant associations (multiple-drug-multiple-target-one-disease). From a molecular/systematic level, this explains why the herbs within a concoction could mutually enhance pharmacological synergy on a disease. Conclusions. The present work provides a new strategy not only for the understanding of pharmacological synergy in herbal medicine, but also for the rational discovery of potent drug/herb combinations that are individually subtherapeutic.
The consumption of Chinese herbal medicines (CHMs) is increasing exponentially. Many patients utilize CHMs concomitantly with prescription drugs in great frequency. Herb-drug interaction has hence become an important focus of study. Transporter-mediated herb-drug interactions have the potential to seriously influence drug efficacy and toxicity. Since organic anion transporter 1 (OAT1) is crucial in renal active secretion and drug-drug interactions, the possibility of modulation of OAT1-mediated drug transport should be seriously concerned. Sixty-three clinically used CHMs were evaluated in the study. An hOAT1-overexpressing cell line was used for the in vitro CHMs screening, and the effective candidates were administered to Wistar rats to access renal hemodynamics. The regulation of OAT1 mRNA expression was also examined for further evidence of CHMs affecting OAT1-mediated transport. Among all the 63 CHMs, formulae Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan (GZ) and Chia Wei Hsiao Yao San (CW) exhibited significant inhibitions on hOAT1-mediated [3H]-PAH uptake in vitro and PAH clearance and net secretion in vivo. Moreover, GZ showed concentration-dependent manners both in vitro and in vivo, and the decrease of rOAT1 mRNA expression indicated that GZ not only inhibited function of OAT1 but also suppressed expression of OAT1.
In recent times, focus on plant research has increased all over the world. Centella asiatica is an important medicinal herb that is widely used in the orient and is becoming popular in the West. Triterpenoid, saponins, the primary constituents of Centella asiatica are manly believed to be responsible for its wide therapeutic actions. Apart from wound healing, the herb is recommended for the treatment of various skin conditions such as leprosy, lupus, varicose ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, diarrhoea, fever, amenorrhea, diseases of the female genitourinary tract and also for relieving anxiety and improving cognition. The present review attempts to provide comprehensive information on pharmacology, mechanisms of action, various preclinical and clinical studies, safety precautions and current research prospects of the herb. At the same time, studies to evaluate the likelihood of interactions with drugs and herbs on simultaneous use, which is imperative for optimal and safe utilization of the herb, are discussed.
Centella asiatica; description; herb-drug interactions; pharmacology of Centella asiatica; preclinical and clinical studies; side effects; therapeutic uses
More than 15 million people in the United States consume herbal remedies or high-dose vitamins. The number of visits to providers of complementary and alternative medicine exceeds those to primary care physicians, for annual out-of-pocket costs of $30 billion. Use of herbal products forms the bulk of treatments, particularly by elderly persons who also consume multiple prescription medications for comorbid conditions, which increases the risk of adverse herb-drug-disease interactions. Despite the paucity of scientific evidence supporting the safety or efficacy of herbal products, their widespread promotion in the popular media and the unsubstantiated health care claims about their efficacy drive consumer demand. In this review, we highlight commonly used herbs and their interactions with cardiovascular drugs. We also discuss health-related issues of herbal products and suggest ways to improve their safety to better protect the public from untoward effects.
cardiovascular agents; complementary therapies; drug approval; herbal medicine; herb-drug interaction
Intestinal microbiota contributes to diverse mammalian processes including the metabolic function of drugs. It is a potential new territory for drug targeting, especially for dietary herbal products. Because most of herbal drugs are orally administered, the chemical profile and corresponding bioactivities of herbal medicines may be altered by intestinal microbiota. Ginseng is one of the most commonly used herb and it is always an attractive natural product to understand. In this review, after briefly introduce the interactions of herbal products and gut microbiota, we discussed the microbiota-mediated metabolism of ginsenosides in ginseng and red ginseng. In particular, the major metabolite Compound K and its pharmacological advances are commented including anticancer, antidiabetic and antiinflammatory effects. In summary, the intestinal microbiota may play an important role in mediating the metabolism and enhancement of bioactivity of herbal medicines.
Intestinal microbiota; Ginseng; Red ginseng; Ginsenosides; Compound K
The use of herbal medicines has increased dramatically over the past few years. The United States alone noted a 380% increase in the consumption of these products. Although the common practice of taking over-the-counter herbal soups, herbal teas and other such prepacked preparations was not associated with adverse events at large, still, some herbs are known to cause problems, especially when large doses are taken. The American Society of Anaesthesiologist (ASA) has taken a conservative stance and recommended that it is prudent to stop these products at least 2–3 weeks prior to anaesthesia and surgery. This advice may be difficult to implement as most preoperative evaluations occur only a few days prior to surgery. Some of the Ayurvedic preparations have shown to improve the patient outcome when taken during the perioperative period. Hence, the conservative stance by ASA may not always benefit the patient. More scientific studies are needed to have more targeted recommendations. This article puts forward the facts that need to be addressed by researchers in the future.
Amla; curcumin; garlic; giloe; ginger; ginseng; guggul; therapeutic claims; tulsi
This study aims to investigate the knowledge and attitudes among pharmacists in Oman towards the specific use and knowledge of herbal drugs.
The study was conducted on 100 pharmacists employed in Oman. The data was collected using two self- administered questionnaire containing 7 and 11 closed ended questions in each, respectively.
The mean age of pharmacists was 32.6 (SD=5.6) years. The majority of pharmacists were interested in herbal information and their herbal information mainly comes from their previous classes during college. Most of them have belief on the effectiveness of herbal products. Pharmacists were more knowledgeable on specific therapeutic indications of herbal products rather than on other areas such as drug- herb interaction or side effects.
In summary, Pharmacists need to be informed on the therapeutic indications, drug interactions, dose, active constituent and precautions of herbal products. Concerned bodies must also provide them with regular continuing education programs apart from putting their effects to incorporate relevant topics in herbal medicine in pharmacy curriculum.
Herbal drugs; Herb-drug interaction; Pharmaceutical care
Despite the lack of sufficient information on the safety of herbal products, their use as alternative and/or complementary medicine is globally popular. There is also an increasing interest in medicinal herbs as precursor for pharmacological actives. Of serious concern is the concurrent consumption of herbal products and conventional drugs. Herb–drug interaction (HDI) is the single most important clinical consequence of this practice. Using a structured assessment procedure, the evidence of HDI presents with varying degree of clinical significance. While the potential for HDI for a number of herbal products is inferred from non-human studies, certain HDIs are well established through human studies and documented case reports. Various mechanisms of pharmacokinetic HDI have been identified and include the alteration in the gastrointestinal functions with consequent effects on drug absorption; induction and inhibition of metabolic enzymes and transport proteins; and alteration of renal excretion of drugs and their metabolites. Due to the intrinsic pharmacologic properties of phytochemicals, pharmacodynamic HDIs are also known to occur. The effects could be synergistic, additive, and/or antagonistic. Poor reporting on the part of patients and the inability to promptly identify HDI by health providers are identified as major factors limiting the extensive compilation of clinically relevant HDIs. A general overview and the significance of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic HDI are provided, detailing basic mechanism, and nature of evidence available. An increased level of awareness of HDI is necessary among health professionals and drug discovery scientists. With the increasing number of plant-sourced pharmacological actives, the potential for HDI should always be assessed in the non-clinical safety assessment phase of drug development process. More clinically relevant research is also required in this area as current information on HDI is insufficient for clinical applications.
Herb–drug interaction; traditional medicine; phytochemicals; transport proteins; cytochrome P450
Increased use of complementary and alternative herbal medicines in the treatment of various diseases.Some herbal therapies may be causes of potential toxicity that may be renal toxicity caused by the ingestion of herbs. The goal of this study is the toxic and beneficial effects of medicinal herbs on renal health by which evidence for benefit or toxicity has been found. Included are nephrotoxicity from aristolochic acid and other components within herbs, herb-drug interactions, heavy metal toxicity in herbs and adulterants during careless preparation of herbal medicine, resulting in adverse renal effects and renal toxicity from contaminants within the extracts. The review aims to provide knowledge and guide to encourage future toxicity studies on the kidney by medicinal herbs.
Adverse effects; herbal medicines; nephrotoxicity
Red yeast rice (RYR) is made by fermenting the yeast Monascus purpureus over rice. It is a source of natural red food colorants, a food garnish and a traditional medication. Results of the current study demonstrated that polar fractions of the RYR preparations contained herbal-drug interaction activity, which if left unremoved, enhanced P-glycoprotein activity and inhibited the major drug metabolizing cytochromes P450, i,e, CYP 1A2, 2C9 and 3A4. The data from Caco-2 cell absorption and animal model studies further demonstrated that the pharmacokinetic modulation effect by RYR preparations containing the polar fractions (“untreated” preparation) was greater than that from RYR preparations with the polar fractions removed (“treated” preparation). The data indicates a potential for herb-drug interactions to be present in RYR commonly sold as nutritional supplements when the polar fractions are not removed and this should be taken into consideration when RYR is consumed with medications, including verapamil.
Soft tissue injury imposes major public health burdens worldwide. The positive effect of China's Tibetan medicine and the Lamiophlomis rotata-based herbal Pain Relieving Plaster (PRP) on healing closed soft tissue injury (CSTI) has been reported. The herbs contained in Plaster are also referred as 'blood-activating and stasis-dispelling' in herbal medicine. The formula of the plaster contains four China's Tibetan medical herbs, including Lamiophlomis rotata, Oxytropis falcate Bunge, Curcuma longa Linn, and Myricaria bracteata. Two of these herbs (Lamiophlomis rotate; Curcuma longa Linn) are commonly used in different formulae of Chinese medicine. The objective of this study is to use an interdisciplinary approach to test the hypothesis that the formula and its components influence the process of CSTI.
In vivo models have been established in 30 rabbit ear pinnae and studied for: (1) blood flow velocity (BFV) which was affected by pressure of 21.2 kg/cm2 for 30 second over the local rabbit ear tissue; (2) edema formation of the closed soft tissue injury; (3) in vivo local temperature change.
The results of in vivo studies indicated that CSTI significantly increased the velocity of blood flow and increased edema formation within the control group. The PRP extracts for 5 hours significantly slowed down the BFV of CSTI in rabbit ears, markedly decreased the elevated edema level from the 3rd to the 5th day.
The ingredients contained in the formula have positive effects in healing CSTI and further study is worth exploring.
Many kinds of Chinese herb had been confirmed to have the character of anti-tumor, clinical reports about anti-tumor effects of Chinese herb had also been found in recent years, but most of the reports were focused on the clinical treatment of effectiveness for Chinese herb, on the other hand, review about Chinese herbal related with molecules on cancer-cell-apoptosis was seldom, many scientists could not believe such kinds of clinical describes about anti-tumor effects for Chinese herb, because these describes were lack of molecular biology evidence. Kanglaite(KLT) injection is an anti-tumor new drug which extracts from Chinese medicine-coix seed with modern advanced pharmaceutical technology, it is also a new biphase extended-spectrum anticancer medicine, the food and drug administration(FDA) of United States also approved a phase II trial of KLT to test its efficacy in treating non-small-cell lung cancer. Some studies show it could inhibit some anti-apoptotic gene and activate some pro-apoptotic gene, its injection solution is one of the new anticancer medicine that can significantly inhibit a various kinds of tumor cells, so it has become the core of research that how to further explore KLT injection to promote tumor cell apoptosis by impacting on related genes. In this review, the relationship between KLT and some tumor cell apoptosis molecules had been discussed and reviewed generally.
The medicinal properties of hawthorn (Crataegus spp., a genus comprising approximately 300 species) have been utilized by many cultures for a variety of therapeutic purposes for many centuries. In the Western world cardiovascular disease (CVD) has become one of the single most significant causes of premature death. Echoing this situation, more recent research into the therapeutic benefits of hawthorn preparations has focused primarily upon its cardiovascular effects. This review covers research into the various mechanisms of action proposed for Crataegus preparations, clinical trials involving Crataegus preparations, and the herb's safety profile.
Clinical trials reviewed have been inconsistent in terms of criteria used (sample size, preparation, dosage, etc) but have been largely consistent with regard to positive outcomes. An investigation into data available to date regarding hawthorn preparations and herb/drug interactions reveals that theoretical adverse interactions have not been experienced in practice. Further, adverse reactions relating to the use of hawthorn preparations are infrequent and mild, even at higher dosage ranges. A recent retrospective study by Zick et al. has suggested a negative outcome for the long-term use of hawthorn in the prognosis of heart failure. These findings are examined in this paper.
Although further research is needed in certain areas, current research to date suggests that hawthorn may potentially represent a safe, effective, nontoxic agent in the treatment of CVD and ischemic heart disease (IHD).
Cardiovascular disease; Crataegus; hawthorn; whitethorn
A female athlete tested positive for benzodiazepine on a random drug screen. She denied taking any illicit or prescription drugs. The positive screen was found to be caused by undeclared addiction of diazepam to a Chinese herbal product, “Miracle Herb.” Some foreign vitamins, health care products, or herbal tea may contain banned or dangerous additives unknown to the consumer. These additives may include ingredients such as benzodiazepine, mefenamic acid, or corticosteroids. Possible physical harm may result when using products containing these undeclared additives. Team physicians and athletic trainers should educate athletes about the purchase and use of vitamins, herbal teas, and substances that are perceived to be performance-enhancing products, especially those manufactured outside the United States.
Herbal formulations being widely accepted therapeutic agents as antidiabetics, antiarthritics, hepatoprotectives, cough remedies, memory enhancers, and adaptogens. The commonest myth regarding herbal medicines is that these medicines are completely safe, and can therefore be safely consumed by the patient on his/her own, without a physician's prescription. This belief has led to large-scale self-medication by people all over the world, often leading to disappointing end-results, side-effects, or unwanted after-effects. There is an increasing awareness at several levels of the need to develop pharmacovigilance practices for herbal medicines. The current model of pharmacovigilance and its associated tools have been developed in relation to synthetic drugs, and applying these methods to monitoring the safety of herbal medicines presents unique challenges in addition to those described for conventional medicines. Several problems relate to the ways in which herbal medicines are named, perceived, sourced, and utilized. This may be because of differences in the use of nonorthodox drugs (e.g., herbal remedies) which may pose special toxicological problems, when used alone or in combination with other drugs. The purpose of pharmacovigilance is to detect, assess, and understand, and to prevent the adverse effects or any other possible drug-related problems, related to herbal, traditional, and complementary medicines.
Adverse reaction; herbal medicines; pharmacovigilance
The information of protein targets and small molecule has been highly valued by biomedical and pharmaceutical research. Several protein target databases are available online for FDA-approved drugs as well as the promising precursors that have largely facilitated the mechanistic study and subsequent research for drug discovery. However, those related resources regarding to herbal active ingredients, although being unusually valued as a precious resource for new drug development, is rarely found. In this article, a comprehensive and fully curated database for Herb Ingredients’ Targets (HIT, http://lifecenter.sgst.cn/hit/) has been constructed to complement above resources. Those herbal ingredients with protein target information were carefully curated. The molecular target information involves those proteins being directly/indirectly activated/inhibited, protein binders and enzymes whose substrates or products are those compounds. Those up/down regulated genes are also included under the treatment of individual ingredients. In addition, the experimental condition, observed bioactivity and various references are provided as well for user's reference. Derived from more than 3250 literatures, it currently contains 5208 entries about 1301 known protein targets (221 of them are described as direct targets) affected by 586 herbal compounds from more than 1300 reputable Chinese herbs, overlapping with 280 therapeutic targets from Therapeutic Targets Database (TTD), and 445 protein targets from DrugBank corresponding to 1488 drug agents. The database can be queried via keyword search or similarity search. Crosslinks have been made to TTD, DrugBank, KEGG, PDB, Uniprot, Pfam, NCBI, TCM-ID and other databases.
This study was to determine the effectiveness (CD4 count and viral load) of a safe herbal concoction, α-Zam used by clients seeking herbal remedy for treatment of HIV infection in Nigeria. 51 patients taking α-Zam as complementary and alternative therapy through the herbal therapist were studied for a period of 16 months. Preliminary medical and laboratory examinations using WHO and CDC criteria were done after confirmation of HIV infection by Western blotting in the nearest teaching hospitals to the residence of the patients. Regular visits were paid to the patients after commencement of the α-Zam to assess the side-effects, drug interactions, toxicity and effectiveness of the herbal remedy. There was a statistical significance (P<0.05) between pre-treatment and post-treatment CD4 count. 4 (7.8%) of the patients had average increase in CD4 count of 262±16 cell/µL, 23 (45.1%) patients with average increase 310±16 cell/µL, 16 (31.4%) patients with average increase 456±25 cell/µL and 8 (15.7%) patients with average increase 510±36 cell/µL( %) were at WHO staging I , II, III and IV respectively within 4 months on herbal therapy. There was very marked reduction in viral (HIV-RNA) load with 41 (80.4%) and10 (19.6%) HIV infected patients had undetectable viral load and <1000 copies/ml respectively after the therapy. All symptoms and signs associated with HIV infection in all patients fully subsided within 4 weeks of commencement of α-zam therapy and there was no evidence of negative drug interaction in those HIV patients using both the herbal and highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART). The study is in progress to determine periodic immunological outcomes of post therapy in all patients.
There is growing concern that serious interactions are occurring between prescribed/over the counter and herbal medicines and that there is a lack of disclosure of herbal use by patients to doctors. This study explores women's perspectives about the safety of herbal remedies, herb-drug interactions and communication with doctors about herbal medicines.
Qualitative, cross-sectional study, with purposive sampling which took place in Cheshire, UK. Eighteen in depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with female herbal medicine users aged 18 years and above.
The large majority did not inform their GPs of their use of herbal medicines. This was due to lack of physician enquiry, perception of importance and fear of a negative response. Several women were not aware that herbal remedies could interact with prescribed or over the counter medicines. Of the women who had experienced adverse effects none had reported them, believing them of low importance.
The women had little knowledge about herb-drug interactions and rarely disclosed use of herbal medicines to their doctor. Doctors' communication and openness regarding herbal medicines needs to improve and there should be increased access to accurate information on herbal medicines in the public and health care domain.
OBJECTIVE: To examine existing evidence and inform family physicians about issues concerning herbal product use in Canada. QUALITY OF EVIDENCE: The Canadian Food and Drug Act and findings of an Expert Advisory Committee on Herbs and Botanical Preparations were consulted to provide an overview of the issues regarding herbal product regulation in Canada. Case reports of herbal toxicity were identified to illustrate some of the hazards of herbal products, and references provided to guide health professional in searching the literature for clinical trials that evaluate these drugs' efficacy. MAIN FINDINGS: Herbal products not registered as drugs in Canada are sold as foods and are exempt from the drug review process that evaluates product efficacy and safety. This places the public at risk of unwanted effects from the use of herbal products that are adulterated with other substances and of forgoing effective conventional therapy. Moreover, consumers are exposed to a plethora of information portraying herbal products as harmless. Some progress has been made to address these concerns by facilitating the registration of herbal products as drugs. CONCLUSIONS: Most herbal products that were evaluated were unsafe or ineffective, or no information was available to evaluate their efficacy. Despite the perception that herbal products are innocuous, family physicians need to be aware that herbal therapy can be harmful in order to help their patients make informed choices.
Whole systems of healthcare offer unique methodological and theoretical challenges for researchers. Herbalism has its own set of methodological and philosophical research issues, which are beyond those presented for whole system research, in general.
An International Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR) workshop was presented on, “Challenges in Herbal Whole Systems Research”. Starting from a definition of herbalism the most important challenges to herbal whole system research (HWSR) were elicited with inputs from both the workshop presenters and the audience.
Five major challenges unique to herbal whole systems research were identified: (1) Defining herbalists and herbalism; (2) role of natural products industry in herbal research; (3) designing placebos and delivering active herbal treatments as are given by herbalists; (4) researching the herb as a living entity; and (5) designing trials to investigate and develop multi-component herbal therapies.
To design studies of herbalism requires unique methods and theoretical frameworks. Solutions to these methodological challenges need to be addressed to conduct research that examines herbal systems of medicine versus conducting trials on individual herbs given out of their original therapeutic context.
Whole Systems; Herbalism; Research Methodology
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), including herbal medicine, are popular in the general population worldwide. Parallel to the increasing interest in ‘modern’ CAM therapies and the historical importance of Arab medicine, there is also a similar trend in research activities dealing with the efficacy and safety of medicinal plants in our region. Historical and current studies and surveys indicate that the Eastern region of the Mediterranean has been distinguished throughout the generations with a rich inventory of natural medicinal herbs. It is well documented that indigenous Arab medicine has contributed greatly to the development of modern medicine in Europe and remains one of the closest forms of original European medicine. The rapid increase in consumption of herbal remedies worldwide has been stimulated by several factors, including the notion that all herbal products are safe and effective. This article presents a systematic review on traditional Arab medicine including historical background, medical innovations introduced by Arab physicians in the field of safety and efficacy of herbal medicine and a state-of-the-art description of traditional Arab herbal medicine in the Mediterranean region.
Arab herbal medicine; in vitro and in vivo complementary medicine; toxicity and efficacy