The Danger of Internet Herbalists Who Claim to Treat Cancer

fennelOne of the greatest obstacles in dissuading consumers from purchasing their goods over the internet has been the risk that they might get ripped off. Yet an even bigger and growing risk is that they might purchase goods that are capable of harming them.

The regulation of herbal remedies sold over the internet has been of particular concern to Trading Standards Officers who are charged with ensuring that goods are safe to use and are not mis-described. In addition, Trading Standards are charged with enforcing the provisions of the Cancer Act that make it illegal to publish claims that goods, including food, can cure or treat cancer unless these goods are appropriately licensed medicines.

Herbal remedies are plants, or mixtures of plant extracts used to treat illness and promote health. People have used plants to treat illness for as long as history has been recorded. Some herbalists believe that their herbal remedies can prevent or cure certain illnesses yet there is no scientific evidence to prove that this is true for cancer.

There are two main branches of herbal remedies, Chinese and Western. Chinese herbalists use plants to improve what they believe is a persons ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’). Many Chinese believe that Qi is the flow of energy in our bodies and that maintaining the balance of Qi is essential for good health.

There has been a rise in the religious use of herbal preparations by pagans who use it both ritually for spell making and medicinally, offering mixtures to treat or cure various illnesses. There has also been a sharp rise in new age pagans offering their treatments over the internet. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and local authority Trading Standards Services are particularly concerned by this as many herbal remedies can have serious and dangerous side effects.

Gloucestershire Trading Standards Service has recently taken action against several internet traders making claims that their herbal remedies are a treatment or a cure for cancer. One internet trader was successfully prosecuted after persistently failing to act when warned about her web pages. There is a clear danger that some remedies offered for sale as a treatment for cancer could react or counteract with a patients existing prescriptions reducing their effect.

There is additional concern that people suffering from cancer, being at their most vulnerable, might assume that natural remedies are not proper drugs when in fact they are. It is vitally important that only qualified medical practitioners should offer advice about treating cancer.

Now it’s over to you. Do you have any thoughts on the content of this article? If so let us know…

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