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PAs in Medicinal Herbs

PAs in Medicinal Herbs

After consultation with the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association (EHTPA) and the British Herbal Medicine Association (BHMA), it has come to our attention that a small number of medicinal herbs may contain potentially harmful naturally occurring chemicals.

The chemicals, known as PAs (Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids), are naturally occurring in over 6,000 plant species and are thought to be produced by plants as a defence mechanism against herbivores.

Some PAs have been found to have hepatotoxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects - accounting for the toxicological relevance to humans (Chen et al. 2010; Li et al. 2011; Stewart and Steenkamp 2001). General scientific consensus is that there may be no safe level of these chemicals and due to the fact that they act cumulatively, caution is advised. 

The particular medicinal herbs of concern are Comfrey (Symphytum rad. and fol.), Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara fol. and flos) and Borage (Borago officinalis fol.). 

With patient safety always our paramount concern we have taken the decision to temporarily suspend sales of these herbs in all forms apart from topical cream and fixed oil. This will remain the situation until we have more clarity on the issue based on further research.

We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this may cause but hope that you will understand the reasons for taking this step. More information on the issue can be found at:

http://bhma.info/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Pyrrolizidine-alkaloids-a-practitioners-perspective-Chris-Etheridge-23.06.2016.pdf