Herbal Remedies 'Put Thousands in Danger'

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Byline: MARK PRIGG

HERBAL remedies are putting thousands of people at risk, experts warn today.

They say alternat ive medicines are often poorly labelled and taken without consulting a doctor. Some could prove fatal, scientists claim.

Today Professor Peter Houghton of King's College, London, called for urgent legislation.

He said: "There is a risk with herbal medicines. People are taking these to try and cure some pretty major diseases, and taking them in conjunction with traditional medicine.

"We simply don't know how the two interact or what the effects of these remedies actually are."

Professor Houghton added: "People know there is a risk with traditional medicine but they seem to ignore it when using a herbal remedy." He also claims the lack of legislation has led to many consumers not knowing what they are taking.

"Some of these drugs are very potent. People can also take the wrong dosage, as 90 per cent of the people taking these remedies don't consult a doctor.

"I would urge them to consult a health professional before starting any kind of treatment," he added. Professor Houghton told the BA Festival of Science in Exeter that herbal medicine usage had "exploded" in recent years.

"It is predominantly the better educated middleclass people using these remedies, people who don't mind paying a premium for them. It's become very fashionable," he said. One in five people are believed to take herbal remedies at least once a year.

St John's Wort has already caused several deaths, Professor-Houghton claimed. …