CRN criticizes article that discourages use of herbal supplements

WASHINGTON The Council for Responsible Nutrition on Monday criticized the Journal of American College of Cardiology for publishing an “uninformed, inaccurate and outdated interpretation” of laws governing herbal supplements as part of a article discussing the use of herbal supplements in conjunction with heart-disease medicines.

Specifically, CRN criticized the recent publication of “Use of Herbal Products and Potential Interactions in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease,” an article originally submitted to the publication in June 2008 that cautions against the use of those herbals in patients with heart disease, for making general, unsupported statements. “The article contains sweeping generalizations, often not backed by relevant citations, and copious factual errors, including a reference to products — some of which are not actually herbal supplements — that produce adverse effects on the cardiovascular system,” stated Douglas MacKay, CRN VP scientific and regulatory affairs.

The article identifies nine ingredients that should be used with extreme caution by patients being treated for heart disease. Those supplements include: St. John’s wort, ginseng, ginkgo, garlic, saw palmetto, echinacea, yohimbine, licorice and black cohosh. The article also cautions against the consumption of grapefruits or grapefruit juice. Author Arshad Jahangir, cardiologist and researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., advises readers to consult with their physicians and pharmacists around possible herb-drug interactions.

CRN did agree that consumers should talk openly with their physician about the herbal supplements they are using or considering using, particularly if they are on medications, the association stated.

According to CRN, 24% of American adults take herbal supplements each year.

“According to the 2008 ‘Life…supplemented’ Healthcare Professionals Impact Study, 63% of cardiologists say that they inquire about the dietary supplements their patients are taking,” MacKay said. “Furthermore, the study shows that 73% of cardiologists agreed that a regimen of healthy eating, dietary supplements, exercise and other smart lifestyle choices is key to maintaining heart health,” he said. “Herbal supplements should not replace medications or the need for smart lifestyle choices like healthy diet and regular exercise, but instead should be integrated as part of a total health regimen.”

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