How Safe are Chinese Herbs for your Health?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported problems for years over the levels of pesticides and industrial contaminants, claiming that they are too high where certain herbs are concerned. In recent years, the American Botanical Council and the American Herbal Products Associated have discovered ongoing problems with this issue, with much of the problems lying with herbs sourced from India and China where the levels of contamination are found to be shockingly high. A new study has found that the unsafe practices surrounding the overuse of pesticides and toxic agents in Chinese herbs could be a cause for concern. The report stands to damage the trade of Chinese herbs which have repeatedly been under fire for the concerns of contamination.


China remains the worlds largest supplier of herbs, meaning that it has a lot to lose in terms of business. The revenues from Chinese herbal export total hundreds of millions of dollars – furthermore, Chinese people rely enormously on these herbs for their health. As such, the Chinese population has a lot at risk in terms of significant health problems which could arise from toxic elements in their natural medicines. TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine, is one of the most ancient forms of health care in the world. Some texts of TCM date back to more than 3,000 years ago! At the root of this form of medicine lies around 11,000 herbs – these are boiled in teas, and generally there is a combination of several types of herbs to make one form of medicine. Greenpeace studied around 65 batches of herbs, with residues of pesticides found in 48 samples. One of the more widely used herbs known as Sanqi flower had residues of 39 pesticides, and Goji contained 25. This is commonly referred to as a superfood and eaten as a snack, but with so many toxic agents it quickly becomes a rather unhealthy addition to anyone’s diet.


In recent years, the country has been under scrutiny for a number of food-related scandals, such as melanine poisoned-milk and toxic levels of pesticides found in ginseng. It’s also been noted that pesticides often run into the water supplies in China, through the rivers and lakes. The country has also been known to have poisoning problems with ginger, gives and cowpeas, as well. People are seeking natural methods for ailments more and more now, so herbal medicine usage is at an all time high. However, the levels of toxic agents could put an end to this, leading to anxiety and concern amongst users of Chinese medicine.

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