A monthly round-up of the latest news, events and topics in integrative healthcare from John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports.

by John Weeks, Publisher/Editor of The Integrator Blog News & Reports


ABC’s Blumenthal challenges New York Times on Gingko’s cancer effects in lab animals

The New York Times ran an article April 29, 2013, “New Doubts about Gingko Biloba,” in which it reported that toxicity from the herb caused cancer in lab animals. The Times did not choose to run a response letter submitted by Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council (ABC). In an e-message on May 7, 2013, Blumenthal shared his short letter with ABC’s members: “Results of the National Toxicology Program’s Toxicology Report on Ginkgo, conducted on rodents receiving extremely high doses (55-108 times the normal human daily dose) of an atypical ginkgo extract for two years, are not applicable to humans, as noted in the study itself. The ginkgo is not the standard-setting extract used in most published clinical trials. The article misleadingly states that the FDA ‘bans’ ginkgo in conventional foods and beverages; this is based on a regulatory technicality (food additive provision), not an assessment of ginkgo safety, which FDA hasn’t conducted. In fact, clinical trial evidence and widespread use support the overall safety of ginkgo. The article implies that because ginkgo extract did not prevent cognitive decline in several large clinical trials, that ginkgo is not beneficial, despite compelling evidence from numerous controlled clinical trials demonstrating that ginkgo helps improve cognition and quality of life in older patients.”

: The fun, here, is to think of all the food or drug ingredients that, taken at 55-108 times their normal human dose, would be extremely toxic. Maybe we should start by trying to determine if anything wouldn’t.


Breakthroughs with Martin Sheen to focus on alternative therapies

An April 21, 2013 release from the producers of Breakthroughs with Martin Sheen note that the actor will be “reporting on the use of alternative medicine” in the program’s June 2013 show. Sheen is said to be “spending time with doctors and researchers to find out how a new approach and receptiveness to alternative remedies is giving medical professionals another tool in the fight against illness and disease.” The approaches are presented “not as replacing modern medical science” but instead “helping patients grow stronger sand endure the demands of sometimes rigorous treatment.”

Comment: Next to Jimmy Carter, Sheen is clearly putting his post-West Wing years to the best use. (Thanks to Glenn Sabin for the heads up on this.)


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