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From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Vit B6 Ban in England
Date: 18 Jul 1997

In <01bc92e9$5bf5c540$485d6cce@user> "Krista Scott"
<krust*spamsucks*> writes:

>Martin Bennett <> wrote in article
>> In article <5qa33f$9dc$>, John Scudamore
>> <> writes
>> >Nick Carter wrote:
>> > Vitamins and herbs are more
>> >effective than drugs, with no side effects, and will become the main
>> >medicines of the future.
>> A rather sweeping statement. Do I detect a slight bias here?
>> Some herbs are extremely potent and can kill you - a pretty drastic side
>> effect!
>> All medication (including herbal) and vitamin supplements need to be
>> used with caution.
>> Martin Bennett
>Yes, not to mention that many drugs and/or poisons are *derived* from
>herbs.  The original post must be from the "if it's natural, it must be
>good for me" school of thought.


   Kind of a silly thread, considering that the pharmacological
properties of plants are generally DUE to the plant "wanting" to poison
something.  The nicotine in tobacco, for example, is there as an
insecticide (and a good one).  The plant doesn't make it so that
addicted humans will burn tobacco plants in the process of giving
themselves lung cancer.  Likewise the digitalis glycosides in Foxglove
are there to make Foxglove-eaing animals puke and die, not so that some
poor shlub can help his heart disease (a fact which may or may not be
apparent to the poor schub who pukes and dies because his doctor didn't
get the dose just right).

   Plants in general can't run from predation, and they can't fight and
they don't have shells.  That leaves them with just one option:
chemical warfare.  Herbal medicine is simply a very cooincidental side
effect of another process entirely: poisoning!

   The more tropical the climate, the worse the chemical warfare gets.
In temperature climes, the plants have a natural advantage of a
relatively long growing season before the newly hatched spring crop of
insects can get big enough to do much damage. So they don't need as
many nasty chemicals.  In the tropics, the insects are big all year
long, and the plants respond accordingly.  Wanna know why so many
interesting drugs come from tropical herbs?  Now you know.

                                      Steve Harris, M.D.

From: ((Steven B. Harris))
Subject: Re: Are herbs remedies By "Dr." Shelton
Date: 23 May 1995

In <> (Henry
Kelcinski) writes:

>by Dr. Herbert M. Shelton

[ much junk ommitted ]

   There is some truth in the fact that the medicinal actions of herbs
really are poisonous actions watered down.  After all, the herb does not
make those chemicals to cure our diseases, but as chemical warfare to
keep from being munched on by insects or animals.

   And there is a very good reason why the rainforests hold the key to
the pharmaceuticals of the future, and why tropical plants hold more
promise than do temperate ones-- tropical plants are more poisonous!
They have to be.  In temperate climates,  Winter is the best
insecticide.  It take until Fall for spring hatched insects to grow
large enough to be of much danger to plants, and by that time the plant
has usually done its job and is ready to seed, die, or hybernate.  In
the Spring, it gets the advantage again.  In the tropics, by contrast,
the plants are under siege year round, and have to make interesting
chemicals accordingly.

   Shelton's real problem, however, is that he cannot seem to grasp the
idea that it is only the dose which makes any poison.  Life-giving
chemicals like vitamin A or B6 or iron are toxic at high doses, but this
does NOT mean that we should label them as "poisons."  There is no such
thing as a "poison" without specifying the dose.  So it is with plants.
"Herbs" are just plants that we have to be more careful of the dose for,
but even that distinction is not very hard and sharp.  Some plants you
don't have to be particular conscious of dose for (bananas, dandelion
leaves), others you must be extremely careful (foxglove).  Most are
in between.  As for what Shelton says, why should we trust a guy who
doesn't seem to know the difference between the top and the bottom of a
rhubarb stalk?

                                          Steve Harris, M.D.

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