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Experts To Publish Chinese Herb Safety Guidelines

An alliance of trade and professional associations has initiated a broad review of existing safety data on Chinese herbs and other traditional therapeutic substances. The groups plan to publish their compiled research as a guidance document that will provide accurate safety information for healthcare practitioners, manufacturers, regulatory agencies, and consumers.

"This project will consolidate traditional and modern safety information for hundreds of herbal and non-herbal ingredients in the Chinese materia medica into a single publication," said Michael McGuffin, President of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA). "It’s a considerable undertaking, but by cooperating with the acupuncture community we have put together a team that includes some of the most knowledgeable experts in the field."

The envisioned publication will be closely modeled after the Botanical Safety Handbook, produced by AHPA in 1997 and now considered to be a leading reference for herbal safety information. This earlier book established safety classifications for more than 500 herbs, including a few broadly used Chinese herbs. The new publication will provide guidelines on the safe use of individual herbs and other ingredients included in the traditional Chinese materia medica, and will include relevant data on issues such as restrictions on use, dose-related effects, toxic constituents, drug-herb interactions, and preparations that affect toxicity.

"With more and more Americans using Chinese medicine, it is critical that a resource such as this be developed so that there is a clear understanding of each ingredient’s safety profile," said participant David Molony, L.Ac., Dipl. C.H., Executive Director of the American Association of Oriental Medicine (AAOM). "As a practitioner, I know that this work will be useful for the hundreds of professionals practicing this ancient form of medicine in this country."

"For thousands of years many Chinese herbs have had a history of safe and effective use," added Kevin Ergil, L.Ac., M.S., director of Oriental Medicine at Touro College in New York City. "We expect that this definitive guide will reinforce this rich history as it presents all of the known safety data in a clear, concise and comprehensive manner." Ergil is participating in the project as one of the representatives of the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM).

The participating organizations consist of the AAOM, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia, AHPA, the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance, CCAOM, and the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. Publication is tentatively scheduled for 2004. For more information, contact Robin Gellman, <>.

[American Herbal Products Association. Alliance of Experts To Publish Chinese Herb Safety Guidelines [press release]. 2001 Oct 15]