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Noted Editor Zoë Gardner on Botanical Safety Fact & Fiction

The AHPA Foundation for Education and Research on Botanicals (AHPA-ERB Foundation) invites you to attend Botanical Safety Handbook editor Zoë Gardner's upcoming presentation during the 2010 SupplySide East conference and trade show to be held April 26-28 in Secaucus, N.J.

Gardner, co-editor of the Botanical Safety Handbook and research fellow at the University of Massachusetts's Medicinal Plant Program, will present "Safety of Botanical Dietary Supplements: A Systematic Review of the Scientific and Traditional Literature" on April 26 from 1:00 to 1:50 p.m.

Gardner will provide exciting new information from the ongoing systematic review of literature on the safety of approximately 600 botanical dietary supplements being conducted under the guidance of an expert advisory panel in support of a revision of the American Herbal Product Association's Botanical Safety Handbook (1997).

What myths and misconceptions is the Botanical Safety Handbook setting straight?

Myth: Bitter orange peel has been linked to fatalities. While some references report fatalities associated with bitter orange, tracing the information back through five different American and Chinese reference texts indicates that in 1834 a child died after eating a whole orange rind.

Myth: Black cohosh is often toxic to the liver. While the number of cases of liver toxicity reported in association with black cohosh is cause for concern and appropriate investigation and monitoring, only one or two cases have been identified as probably associated with black cohosh. Recent studies in Canada indicate that most of the liver toxicity cases reported there were associated with products that did not contain black cohosh but instead a related species.

Myth: Herb-drug interactions are widespread and common. Current research suggests that, in clinical practice, herb-drug interactions are relatively uncommon. Most of the popularly used herbs, including kava, milk thistle, echinacea, black cohosh, and valerian, have been shown to not have any clinically-relevant interactions. St. John's wort, however, is metabolized by an enzyme that metabolizes a number of prescription drugs, leading to changes in changes in efficacy in drugs such as the immune-suppressant cyclosporine, some birth control pills, and HIV protease inhibitors.

"This review separates actual from theoretical safety concerns and addresses many myths and misconceptions that have become common in the popular and scientific literature," said Gardner, who is presenting a poster ( this week at the 9th Annual Oxford International Conference on the Science of Botanicals in Oxford, Miss. "Assurance for the safety of many botanicals is provided and safety concerns for other botanicals are clearly defined. Additionally, we have found that many of the findings support empirical data from the traditional use of herbs."

Hear Gardner speak on April 26 from 1:00 to 1:50 p.m. More information on SupplySide East educational offerings is available online: To learn more about the Botanical Safety Handbook visit the AHPA-ERB Foundation Web site:

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