Tuesday, 6 October 2009


"Safeguarding public health through the effective regulation of medicines and medical devices"

This is a quote from the first page of the MHRA's (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority) full colour, glossy brochure telling us, the drug/medication using public, what it is doing for us to safeguard us against the potential hazards of using pharmaceutical drugs and medicines. The brochure also states that the MHRA's remit...include the regulation of medicines and medical devices and equipment used in healthcare and the investigation of harmful incidents...

So let's flip quickly over to the Daily Mail today and see what is happening in the real world of drugs, medicines and prescribing far away from the Ivory MHRA tower in Vauxhall, Never Never Land. Here's the headline:

More than two-thirds of care home residents given the wrong prescription.

A harmful incident if ever I saw one. What's more:

The study found that 69.5 per cent of people living in care homes had been the victim of mistakes ranging from incorrect dosing to mislabelling. Multiple errors were common, potentially leading to a 'downward spiral' of poorer health and hospitalisation.

That's a pretty serious misuse of drugs I'd say. Multiple harmful incidents even. I could be wrong...it could be a deliberate policy to rid the UK of old people, but I'd still say it was worth investigating by the people that allowed the prescribed drugs onto the street in the first place.

Nick Barber, of the University of London's school of pharmacy, led the study of 256 residents at 55 English care homes, and he also observes:

Each resident was on a cocktail of drugs - typically eight medicines each, said the study reported in the journal, Quality and Safety in Health Care.

Ok, so I know what the MHRA will say next. They will claim that they merely license the drug in the first place and are not responsible for prescription of it. Well, as far as I know there are no licenses for using multiple drugs in the same person at the same time and certainly no data on the effects haphazard combinations of drugs actually have in a given individual. Forget the yellow card system, it's a total joke when random drugs are combined in these numbers. The MHRA let these things go on the shelves, now guys, it's a sweet shop out there, the elderly are drowning in a sea of drugs. They are easy to get, particularly if you are old...YOU DO NOT EVEN HAVE TO ASK FOR THEM! Sad to say of course that those of us who have ever had the dreadful task of dealing with the care of elderly relatives will have seen this "Russian roulette" approach to prescribing many times. We will have seen the litle old ladies with biscuit tins full of drugs, patients unaware as to why tey are on medication etc. The MHRA is responsible for putting these things out there and they are responsible for the disaster that is happening because of that. The blood stains the hands of the MHRA too, quite literally. Again, I could be wrong and a tad over-emotional, but is this not at the very least intentional bodily harm in operation? Ignorance can be no defence. Blaming the GP's can be no defence. You let the genie out of the bottle, now where's the cork?

So what are the MHRA doing about this lethal trade in drugs? Why, spending time on other things such as banning herbs of course. Bizarre!

Researchers found 178 of the 256 residents had been subjected to one or more medication errors. Some were not given their medicine at all. One third of the drugs which should have been monitored for potentially harmful side effects were not, including heart and thyroid drugs. Which begs the question as to why the MHRA bother with the General Practice Research Database. This is the MHRA's database that is meant to gather information from GP's about the drugs they prescribe and their side effects. What is the point of it when all you have to do is a quick patient survey to find out that the drugs you licensed are not being watched closely at all. They are just being shovelled into the gobs of an unsuspecting public willy nilly!

Just to make matters worse, I wondered if the GP's are actually beholden to the MHRA in their irresponsible use of drugs. Well, this is what the MHRA said in GP Newspaper, 13 March, 2009:

"NICE and the MHRA have launched a drive to boost GPs' understanding of their role, after research found the profession's awareness was limited.
The MHRA believes that most of what doctors know about it and NICE is via second-hand sources, usually the lay media.
An MHRA spokeswoman told GP that there was 'considerable work' needed to help doctors understand the agency's work.
The two organisations will host an event to boost awareness among trainee doctors in London on 28 May.
Evidence collected by the MHRA and NICE has suggested that health professionals' understanding of the organisations' roles is limited.
Just 21 per cent of GPs were able to name the MHRA as the medicines regulator, and only 62 per cent had heard of it even after prompting.
'While a great deal of direct and indirect communication about their work reaches health professionals, a word direct from the horse's mouth would set up trainee doctors nicely for the rest of their careers,' a spokeswoman said.
'There is also evidence that the respective roles of NICE and the MHRA are muddled in people's minds."

So, this is how it works. The MHRA license a bunch of potentially lethal chemicals and allow them into the market. They are then prescribed by people who have no idea how the drugs got there, or who to report problems to and then combine them in random, unlicensed combinations. In military terms this would be called Vietnam!

Meanwhile back at MHRA Ivory Tower, Vauxhall, the surge to remove safe herbs such as bilberry from the market and beyond the reach of those elderly people, and the rest of us, that might actually benefit from them continues apace!

Join us back in Vauxhall soon to watch the launch of Ivory Towers together with Toto back to Kansas...

Friday, 2 October 2009

Time for a commercial break........

This story is the responsibility of Stuart FitzSimons, written in loving memory of the pre upgrade Simon Key (aka Psi-monkey) hominid.

October 2002

Enlightenment Upgrade

A message from a future friend.

Yes, they were a problem, those Mark 3, early twenty first century skin-ups, of which the Key range was so typical. At the time they seemed to be an answer to several of the earlier technical glitches; heads up twin dubbing spam detectors, sphyngomyelinated one touch dendritic extensions, on-board anti-oxidant flush and 24 hour amoxycillilaced ‘high juice’ immune surveillance, self adjusting binocular infinite pixel view and hands free user interface. Optional extras included immediate melanin adjustment mode to facilitate emergency global repositioning and the ability to sing (an option apparently ignored), although the 3 meals a day option was dropped in favour of the low waste ‘sta-fresh’ toilet friendly deluxe version 4.6.

Bells and whistles or what?

SynthCo, as I’m sure you can imagine were well pleased with such cutting edge design concepts in skin-ups.

Mark 3’s though were only prototype skin-ups after all, representing a test species of early hominid design, pencilled in for systems testing between the year 50000 PST* and 3000 DST*. SynthCo, the corporate genius behind the design of the hominid class that we now know as the skin-ups are the true architects of the Universe, well, ours anyway. The management board of SynthCo, our true creators, are themselves a race of multi-dimensional, charmed particle, superstring slitherers. Being multi-dimensional means being able to dip their cosmic tootsies into the cosmic footsies of several stock markets around the known and unknown everything and everywhere at once. From such a position of strength in the market place it’s no wonder they soon organised under the umbrella corporation SynthCo. Their founder and CEO, G. Superstring, a clever sort of a thing, realised there was a gap in the market for ‘life’. It was not long before a particularly colourful and chaotic area of cosmic real estate was set aside, fenced off and work, in earnest, began.

The slitherers themselves live in the very substance of the cosmos itself, a substance they call ‘Mattress’. For this reason they often referred to themselves as ‘stuffing’. Because of this, they developed a strange attachment to and longing for the company and comfort of stuffed creatures such as the SynthCo comforter fluffbots and the extra special SynthCo, adults only, fleshbots.

Soon the early model hominids were rolling off the conveyor belt of creation and embedded within the Mattress, left to their own devices. Life though is a fickle thing and not without its problems, so just to be on the safe side a termination programme called ‘death’ was genetically programmed into each hominid.

So pleased were the slitherers that a full-scale hominid systems testing process was instigated. A planet was designed, they called it ‘Earth’, because that is what it was made up of, every garden was full of the stuff. Earth had seas, rivers, mountains, sky, sand and beer. At first everything went to plan, all the hominids played happily together, lived long, happy lives and did not really notice when the older ones died. Soon, thanks to an ingenious self-replicating program, they populated every part of the planet, which could have ended up standing room only. Quietly though, the slitherers congratulated themselves on the death programme, such a novel way to overcome drastic over population!

However, fortune was soon followed by disaster. As you know, tinkering with genetic material can lead to unexpected consequences and the hominid gene pool is awash with a plethora of potential disasters. Unknown to the slitherers, a mutant gene in the original hominid programme led to the genesis of a unique virus, Dualovirus hominis. A retrovirus, that had lain dormant within hominid kind for some time.

The first symptomatic case occurred when a now infamous hominid, hereinafter referred to as Hominid X, looked up at the sun. He practically blinded himself he looked so long and hard. Leaping to his feet suddenly, he declared…”that’s up”. Scratching an unusually hairy head, he further declared…”so this must be down”. Incidentally, the term skin-ups is derived from this event as the slitherers found it a singularly amusing occurrence.

Thus dawned duality.

It spread like wild fire and it was not long before they were all doing it. If this is in that must be out, if this is light that must be dark, if this is internal that must be external, and on and on, or on and off as hominids were now so proud to assert. Assertion led to self-assertion which begat self-esteem and soon the inevitable happened…reality set in. Now hominids really had done it, ego, ergo, erewego!

The slitherers sat back mildly amused, at first. Then they started to worry. Hominids now began to examine all the parameters of their being. They looked inside themselves and they looked outside themselves and began yearning to fill the emptiness of the void of always being caught up in an endless spiral of opposites. There just did not seem to be a point any more; every point had a counterpoint. Soon duality became a painful, pitiful and dirty thing. The word coined, by the hominids, to describe this reality thing and the painful dualistic nature of the mattress was ‘ouch’.

Hominids, until this point had no conception of what reality may or may not be, or if it mattered, but it suddenly and painfully did. The swinging pendulum of duality forced hominids into a greater examination of their place in the Mattress and what it all meant. Some hominids even claimed to have ‘experienced’ the Mattress, touched it, glimpsed it or briefly seen through it. Some even claimed to have heard it creaking, like bed springs in the dead of night. These hominids were called ‘sidekicks’ as they spent a lot of time speaking to things that were not there.

Up until this point hominids lived a 70 year pre-programmed life span of bliss, needing no food or drink, powered as they were in smiles per hour. Duality changed all that! Hominids were now on ‘reality drive’, which worked a bit like the old gravity propulsion systems. The conflict between opposites drove hominids on like never before. They even had to eat and drink things to power this new found state of energy sapping mental mayhem. This was ‘reality drive’; a reality drive with dual controls, consciousness with stabilisers, wobbling like a drunken penguin from side to side.

Death was now an issue, a big one. There had never been anything to compare life with before; now it was smiles per hour versus compost. The hominid sense of loneliness, despair and hopelessness deepened and deepened.

The slitherers began to panic a little and instigated the first hominid upgrade. At this time there were 2 species of hominid roaming Earth, the Pro Slagnons and the Kneeundertunnels. The Kneeunddertunnels had to go. Ok, they were an amusing visual diversion, but damn they were ugly. It was the Kneeundertunnels that instigated the concept of organising religion. A dangerous distraction from the truth.

A few thousand hominid years after the removal of the Kneeundertunnels and Pro Slagnon dominance, things had gone from bad to worse. Pro Slagnon hominids had now separated into different groups based upon the fact they were now no longer able to take any responsibility for themselves based on inner reality. They looked externally, to things they called ‘Uhm’. ‘Uhm’ was blamed for creating hominids in the first place, blamed for duality and the pain of it all. They thought if they were nice enough to their own version of ‘Uhm’ then they would live forever, overcome death and suffer no more.

One sect called themselves Dithians. This was because they dithered about everything. The Dithians referred endlessly to their sacred text, ‘The Foible’, so called because it was written in a language nobody understood any more and could have meant anything, hence the dithering. They would meet and nail people to walls whilst drinking blood and eating flesh. They hoped to be rewarded for their faithful sufferings. The founder of their sect is the historical figure of Pleasus Thrice. He actually nailed himself to a plank of wood, once, in the hope that his pain would be rewarded with eternal life in the house of ‘Uhm’.

The Moreslims were even more bizarre. They followed the teachings of Morehammered, a name reflecting the state of the poor chap’s tortured mind. They were called Moreslims because they generally lived in less well off regions of Earth. The Moreslims grew ugly, unsightly beards and covered up the females of their sect with tablecloths as acts of self punishment. Their pain was such that they took to blowing themselves and everybody else up.

Probably the strangest sect was that of the Baldists. They generally retreated to far distant places and lived on water, a handful of rice and the odd insect. Most of the time they sat still and did nothing, but in their spare time they invented the most violent forms of hominid interaction ever seen, called the ‘Marital arts”. Alas their inner pain and inner yearnings went likewise unassuaged.

On the other hand, some hominids got permanently stuck in external reality; they were called ‘collectors’. Others became permanently fastened to their internal reality, they were called ‘sectioned’.

As a spin–off to the new found hominid anguish a whole market in ‘how to’ manuals sprang up. Noteworthy amongst these was the best –selling ‘Tao of Pooh’. In truth though, these texts led to even more human grief, even more unanswered questions and even more sequels such as ‘The Pointlessness of Pooh and Tigger Too’.

The next hominid upgrade became a priority. The slitherers set about eradicating the Dualovirus from the hominid gene pool. Success led to the creation of a new type of hominid incapable of dualistic thinking or appreciating dualistic concepts of any kind. This surely would allow hominids release from their mental and psychic torture and allow them to simply enjoy their time under the sun.

The new hominids were indeed a startling upgrade. Lacking the ability to experience opposites meant they always occupied the perfect midpoint of, and in, everything. The slitherers dubbed their new creation ‘singularities’, the skin-ups just referred to singularities as ‘Them From The Midlands’. Being singularities meant having some strange physics, and they were not so much of a new species as just, well…spaces really. Now, if you thought the Reality drive engine was powerful, the singularity engine growled like the solar breeze, and that was just in neutral.

Then, true to form with this life thing, the unexpected happened. Skin-ups kept falling into singularities, could not see them coming, did not know they were there. Well, they were spaces after all. Before long skin-ups lived in fear of their lives. Skin-up young were warned to be on their guard and never take a ride or sweets from a singularity. The result of a skin-up, singularity collision was the generation of a totally new hybrid hominid, the ‘Krishnaphrenic’, so called because being half skin-up, half singularity they were said to be half gone or, not all there. Krishnaphrenics suffered the most outrageous inner turmoil. Their skin-up half inoculated the new hybrids with the Dualovirus so they constantly questioned their place in the Mattress but then they would relapse into singularity. As you can imagine, emerging from singularity into duality and vice versa was so shocking they wailed incessantly and banged on drums whilst walking the streets handing out leaflets to drown out the noise in their heads.

Krishnaphrenics had a rough time, doomed to walk the highways of the skin-up world selling words, which may not sound hard but when you are blue it does kind of mark you out. Krishnaphrenics did not look to one ‘Uhm’ to save them from their pitiful dualistic plight, but many. The exact number is difficult to pin down as one ‘Uhm’ would constantly change into another. One of their ‘Uhm’s’ actually became and ‘Ohm’ and because they didn’t much like that they palmed it off onto the Baldists.

By now the slitherers were becoming distraught with the unpredictable course of life. Shares in SynthCo were taking a nose dive. The new product range was running amuck. This shit would just not sit still on the shelves! They were afraid the skin-ups, who had by now been upgraded themselves with several minor adjustments, would go out of their minds with constant self examination and concerns over their place and function in the Mattress. Observing this process became, of course, a vital part of the test procedure for their new product but the slitherers began to think that things might be getting out of hand. How right they were.

A final upgrade was planned, removing all the problems inherent in reality drive and allowing skin-ups the joy of free-wheeling. A cure for the Dualovirus had been found! The final upgrade was planned for some time during 2050 DST*. However a tragic event forced the hand of the slitherers into downloading the skin-up upgrade as quickly as possible, and it is now pencilled in for 2012 DST*. The tragic event in question was the self-inflicted skin-up holocaust at a town called Whacko in the Untied State of Shamerica. A group of badly infected skin-ups began to believe that the opposite of life, i.e. death, must be better than life and that when they died their own personal version of’ ’Uhm’, in this case given the pet name ‘Alien’, would come to take them away and make them alive again for ever. Most other skin-ups realising that the Whackos had taken things too far descended in droves on the ranch occupied and fortified by the Whackos. They hoped to talk the Whackos out of killing themselves.

They were too late.. In the carnage that ensued all the Whackos killed themselves and set their compound ablaze. Charred remains were plucked from the scene of carnage for several days after the incident. Among the remains were two sad, small bodies, too badly burned to be recognised. Whilst the bodies lay in the mortuary the slitherers ran in-depth quantum fingerprint tests. The bodies were subsequently identified as the MRK 11 comforter fluffbots Kanga and Roo.


DST = Dithian standard time
PST = Pre standard time

Tuesday, 29 September 2009


Published in the Daily Mirror, Thursday, 24/09/2009; an article written by Dr. Miriam Stoppard entitled: HERBS CAN DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD

(read it here - http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/dear-miriam/2009/09/herbs-can-do-more-harm-than-go.html)

Yet another article written on herbal medicine by a "popular and trusted expert". A subject she obviously knows nothing about!

She begins by declaring her dismay at the fact that two thirds of a group of patients being studied by Aberdeen University took complimentary medicines including herbs whilst recieving prescription medicine. She says, "anything strong enough to have a positive medicinal effect is also strong enough to cause side-effects and interfere or even clash with medication". I'm afraid to tell the good doctor that it's a lot worse than she thinks, especially on our planet. Were those patients also taking onions, garlic, cabbage, carrots, beetroot, ginger, tomato.....Just a few examples of the herbs that those patients could also have been taking. I hope none of the study participants were enjoying a typical Asian diet as they may have been enjoying a whole arsenal of herbs and spices.

All the above foods which are also used as herbs (confusing jargon, is it not, but there is no difference. Maybe we should just say plants), have had their chemistry examined and defined. How those chemicals work on our bodies to exert their health giving/medicinal effects have been clearly defined and understood. The reason why the government, on the recommendation of the scientific evidence, tells us constantly to eat these foods for the purpose of adjusting our health in a positive way, is because of their clearly understood medicinal effect! They are good for us. Importantly, how these herbs affect our health in normal daily potions is clearly understood. You certainly do not need concentrated doses. In fact in concentrated doses cabbage would be very dangerous. As the good doctor knows there exist already some lists of commonly used plants/vegetables that can not be used with certain drugs, warfarin for example or mono-amine-oxidase inhibitors could interact with a vast array of fruit, vegetables and other plants. They are not very extensive lists but it does give us a glimpse of the truth.

What I am trying to demonstrate here is that an awful lot of those so called dangerous herbs are actually normal and regular parts of our diet...standard fixtures and fittings of our lives and metabolisms, for ever. It is the drug that is the odd man out. Maybe we should be asking not if a plant, vegetable, fruit, herb or seed interferes with a certain unnatural, man-made pharmaceutical, but if the drug is interfering with or clashing with our food and normal biochemical processes. It seems that this is the truth as taking certain drugs means we have to suspend reality! Dr Stoopid seems to be placing drugs and pharmaceuticals in a superior position above our normal dietary needs and above the foods we can use to help us return to health. It has to be crazy when a drug limits what you can eat? It has to be crazy when the drugs become the norm and vegetables become the danger men!!

The good doctor also seems to think that the herbal products industry is "totally unregulated". Did she ask any herbal product manufacturer if this is truly the case? Obviously not! For at least 10 years now we have been dealing with the "Traditional European Herbal Medicine Product Directive". All the major companies supplying the British market now manufacture to UK GMP. This is the standard of the MHRA itself, the medicine control agency. UK GMP is a pharmaceutical standard and really too high for herbs. After all, herbs are not pharmaceuticals. The suggestion that you can never be sure what you are getting in herbal products is an insult to all the major British herbal product manufacturers. A UK GMP product must have what it says on the tin! We have the analysis results to prove it, thanks to UK GMP production methodology. We all want high standards...and now they can't get any higher!! What more can I say? Sure, you can raise the issue of dodgy Chinese or Indian products that find their way to the market, but they have nothing to do with the major British/European/American companies and the standards they adhere to. The same thing happens in the pharmaceutical world from time to time where batches of dodgy drugs are discovered from dodgy companies. Just take a look at the history of Baxter pharmaceuticals for example. They make the swine flu vaccine that is being forced upon the population. Check them and their quality control out...eye opening...

As far as herbalists themselves are concerned. The oldest professional body of herbalists in the UK is the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH), in existence since the 1860's. They dont hide, they are easy to find. Herbalists are now trained to B.Sc. degree standard, the same standard as doctors. This has been the case for almost 10 years now. The NIMH has always maintained and continuously improved the standards by which herbalists practise. There is a strict code of conduct, ethics, continuous professional development etc....just like all other professional bodies. In fact, since 2001 the government has been pursuing state regulation of herbal medicine. A process in which the NIMH is pivotal of course, as it has been in past medicine legislation. The ultimate outcome of these developments is that herbalists would be given protected title exactly like other professionals such as doctors and solicitors. Is Dr. Stoopid scared yet? The NIMH is easy to find...try a web search Doctor. The suggestion that it's impossible to know who the "real" herbalists are is ludicrous. If it helps they have B.Sc. after their names (just like doctors) and also MNIMH (a member of the NIMH). On the other hand, what do I do when it comes to finding a "good reputable" doctor? Forget reputable herbalists...doctors can seriously damage your health, according to government statistics, in numbers that far outweigh any problems herbs/herbalists may have caused. While we're having a bash at safety the good doctor states..."pharmaceutical drugs are tested rigorously for safety, side-effects, strength, dosage, purity, and suitability and are medically supervised. Even the over-the-counter drugs come with detailed safety advice". Ok, so on my way home tonight I shall stop off for a box of paracetamol at the sweet shop, get another from the newsagent, pick some more up at Tesco then get home, observe how rigorously tested they have been, how well packaged they are, enjoy reading the safety instructions, chuckle at the potential side-effects, totally ignore the dosage and kill myself and the whole family by taking as many as we can. So, stop talking bollocks and sort it out, protect us from these real and easily available, potentially fatal substances. For goodness sake woman, they are next to the sweeties down at your local newsagent!
Incidentally, what is wrong with the fact that a herb has been used for thousands of years? What that amounts to are the longest running clinical trials in history...actual herbs being taken by actual people over thousands of years. How does the good doctor think that man kind knows so much about herbs? Why is it that herbalists know which herbs are dangerous and which ones are not? I think it's probably because of the longest clinical trials in history. Does she realise that if the potato and tomato were discovered last week they would have suffered an immediate ban by all our so-called drug and food standard agencies. They belong to the deadly nightshade family of plants and could potentially contain atropine. Why did our grannies tell us to avoid eating green potatos and tomatos? Simple, cos they were stupid and incapable of simple observation! Add to the thousands of years of continuous use of herbs in real people the world over, the fact that most herbs have been chemically analysed, tested in test-tubes and in people then you really end up with a reason why the pharmaceutical industry, which in human terms has existed for less than a blinking of an eye, is running scared of herbs! Drugs have been around such a short space of time in human evolution that we have no idea whatsoever the long-term effects on mankind will be.

Let's just go back to that statement again for a moment......"pharmaceutical drugs are tested rigorously for safety, side-effects, strength, dosage, purity, and suitability and are medically supervised. Even the over-the-counter drugs come with detailed safety advice"... As a herbalist I regularly encounter patients with an interesting drug dilemmas. For example, a patient will approach me and tell me they are taking methotrexate, prednisolone (a steroid) and assorted painkillers for their rheumatoid arthritis and will then ask me if they can take dandelion or some other herb as they are worried it may interfere with the medication. My immediate response to such a question is to throw my arms up in despair and fall to the ground weeping and wailing. Whilst one drug in one person at one time may have been studied, two or three or many more in the same person at the same time certainly would not have been. I'm sure there are no drug licenses issued for combinations of drugs. Not even God would know how some of the combinations of drugs given to people nowadays interact when given together. Why worry about a herb in this situation? It's the least of your worries. Methotrexate, by the way, was originally an anti-cancer drug, it stops the functioning of DNA and RNA and therefore stops cells being made...cancer cells and normal cells! Because cells of the immune system play a part in rheumatoid arthritis and they are very susceptible to the actions of methotrexate the (dumb) logic goes that if you "damp down" the immune system (in other words, kill it off) then you reduce the symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis, and other similar immune based inflammatory conditions. Now, you do not have to be a pharmacist to realise what happens when such a powerful drug is used...yes, that's right, you guessed it, potentailly fatal side-effects. POTENTIALLY FATAL, as recognised and described by the manufacturer. Work carries on as we speak, by medics, to try to find ways to administer the drug more efficiently to try to stop the deaths that have happened as a result of using it. Bring in other drugs though that also depress the immune system such as steroids and Lord only knows what may happen next! Forget trials and rigorous safety tests dear patients...you are the guinea pigs!

I do love this statement..."With pharmaceuticals, there's always a considerable gap between the dose you're warned not to exceed and a potentially toxic dose"... Do forgive my stupidity doctor, but drugs such a methotrexate work BECAUSE THEY ARE TOXIC TO HUMAN BEINGS! Side effects in general could be described as toxic effects because they can be damaging/disabling to human physiology. They occur at recommended/normal doses...

I am so glad the subject of Chinese skin creams for eczema appears once again. The MHRA and people with an axe to grind about herbs continuously bring up the subject of adulterated Chinese herbal products. It's like this is the only thing they have on the list and continuously re-cycle it time after time. It's been mentioned for years. Let me state, categorically, AGAIN, that these Chinese products are nothing to do with mainstream western/European/American herbal medicine. These products are brought in by Chinese "doctors" to supply Chinese medicine outlets. We have all seen the Chinese stores on the High Street of one town or another, staffed with Chinese "doctors" and Chinese products. You may also notice that these shops/clinics are stocked with products labelled in Chinese only and staffed by people who do not speak English. Now, forgive me if I'm wrong, but I thought that was against basic trading standards laws. Don't even start on the medicine legislation. Why have they not been shut down? I sometimes feel that these places are left open by the authorities simply so that they can use them as a scapegoat to incriminate the whole herbal world. We western herbalists manufacture to UK GMP, we could not possibly adulter our products with drugs. Even western herbalists that also practise Traditional Chinese Medicine use suppliers from Britain/Europe/America. We do not ship in adulterated products in from Shanghai or where-ever labelled in foreign languages. I myself have been called upon to test some of these imported, Chinese products that are packaged in Chinese boxes. They are usually made to look like pharmaceutical products, but often actually contain nothing at all! So if you want to do something useful Doctor, go after this illegal import and High Street sale of these products.
In her article Dr. Stoopid gives us a list of herbal health warnings. Most startling is her claim that red clover should not be taken by women with hormone sensitive cancers such as breast, ovary etc. Large scale population studies carried out by scientists and orthodox scientific reasearchers has found that populations as found in Asia with a high intake of the isoflavones found in soya products have a reduced incidence of these cancers. The exact same isoflavones are the active constituents of red clover. What's up Doc? HArd scientific proof of plant chemicals working in real people, not test tubes, is somehow wrong all of a sudden....duhhhhh. She also tells us about Ephedra and rreminds us that it is banned already...so what's your point? Then there are the "herbal high" smoking blends which have nothing to do with the high quality herbal products available through herbalists and good health food stores. As for St. Joh's Wort giving you an allergic reaction to the sun, I have not encountered this in 25 years as a herbalist....I believe it is based on cattle grazing on the stuff! Theory and fact are often, as the good doctor knows, two very different things.

Congratulations Doctor, you got this rubbish out there, you got paid for unsubstantiated trash, you scared people...keep taking the tablets...

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Another one for the MHRA!

Scanning through THE TIMES on Thursday, September, 10 (2009) I encountered the following headline. Just try to imagine my horror as a law abiding herbalist when encountering such extreme medical claims!

Healthy eating taken to a life-affirming new level with recipes for beating prostate cancer.

...and the first couple of paragraphs state...

It is probably the most delicious cancer treatment yet devised. A recipe book built around foods known to help fight prostate cancer is the first example of "evidence-based cooking", its autor said yesterday.
The Prostate Care Cookbook has been written by scientists for people with prostate cancer or at risk of developing it. "There is growing scientific evidence that strongly suggests that diets rich in certain foods can help prevent this disease or its spread", the authors write. "For those living with this condition, a controlled diet may be the only means of active treatment".
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, but aggressive treatments can often be worse than the disease, said Margaret Rayman, professor of nutritional Medicine at the University of Surrey and lead author of the book.

Let's just check the terminology used here..."a delicious cancer treatment". What sort of claim is that? Yes, it's a medical claim. Why do they claim that? Well, because this book is written about "Evidence based cooking"...scientific, clinical proof that foods are medicinal just because they are and those medicinal properties are well studied and observed by scientists, doctors etc...just the kind people that wrote this book. Are they not aware of the TRADITIONAL EUROPEAN HERBAL MEDICINE DIRECTIVE? If not, then they are in big trouble, and about to be taxed big time by the MHRA in pursuance of this directive that says that all herbs, and that includes various fruits, seeds, oils, vegetables etc if sold for their medicinal properties have to be registered through the very expensive route of the Directive. It also means that all these "medicines" have to be packaged in pharmaceutical style. The book itself would have to be banned because no medical claims are allowed. We can not advertise drugs.

Just taking a look at one of the recipes they recommend from the book we find sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, pepper, and basil. All well known herbal medicines! Tomatoes in fact belong to the deadly nightshade family. Garlic, tomato, basil and pepper are all found not just as over the counter whole foods but in various herbal supplements...tablets, capsules, tinctures etc. The beauty of this book of course is that it highlights yet again the fact that the MHRA/Europe are making herbalists pay to register their herbs just because we use herbs and sell herbs for their medicinal qualities and this is nothing more than a money making scam and a tax on the fact that some foods are medicinal just because they are, not because herbalists or the MHRA say so. Herbalists do nothing to change these foods into pharmaceuticals...they just are, we use them because they are...and now it appears scientists are using the evidence from research (the kind used and quoted by the MHRA) to treat the dreadful disease that is prostate cancer using a cook book!

Well, the people that wrote this book better look out, they have no idea what they have done...the book will have to banned as soon as it hits the shelves in order to avoid cancer patients self prescribing in a haphazard and dangerous fashion. All the foods mentioned will have to be packaged appropriately into tamper evident, blister packs or bottles complete with braille printing for the visually impaired. Just imagine a blind cancer patient overdosing on tomato sauce due to inadequate labelling. How would the MHRA live with themselves? Each pack would contain a strictly limited quantity of the medicinal food and I wonder, being anti-cancer agents surely they would be better off on prescription only. Great if you live in Wales, prescriptions are free. A patient information leaflet with strict instructions as to the use, storage and appropriate dosage together with potential side-effects and interactions must be included along with, I hope, the instruction to eat...three times daily...

Monday, 7 September 2009

Ban the Broccoli!

Fantastic headline in the Daily Express on Saturday (September 5, 2009):


Call me an idiot...but I'd call that a medical claim. Being a herbalist, I'd be rather paranoid and extremly woried about making claims like that. Not that it is not true of course, but because herbal medicine and our right to talk about it is being demolished by Europe and the MHRA (the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority). Currently, all herbs, vegetables, fruits, seeds, and all other vegetable materials sold as medicines (or to put it another way - because they are good for us) have to undergo a rigorous registration process under the perversly named "Traditional European Herbal Medicine Scheme". As I have described in previous blogs this process is a highly expensive, time consuming and totally unnecessary process that has to be carried out on every herb, vegetable, fruit, seed etc that is being sold for its medicinal properties.We are told it is to protect public safety. I'm still waiting to see the mortality figures...
If I dried broccoli and put it into capsules therefore, I would have to subject it to the registration process. It's the same broccoli I had for dinner and is freely on sale at the grocery. So what happened to it just by putting it into a capsule, or a tablet, or a liquid extract? What's the difference? I did not suddenly make it a medicine....it already was. Read the Daily Express if you don't believe me. They go into intricate chemical and physiological detail about how vegetables in this family of plants exert their medicinal effects on the body, in this case the heart and circulation. Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, beetroot etc are not medicinal because I say so, or because the MHRA says so, or because of the way they are processed...they just are...straight out of the ground, steamed, with a little butter or pressed into a tablet. What is the difference? The broccoli does not somehow mystically alter or take on a new area of activity just because a herbalist gets hold of it! Maybe the MHRA really does believe in magic and that plants are somehow transformed in the hands of those weird herbalists?
The difference of course is that the herbal industry represents a taxable resource for Europe/MHRA. So the question "when is broccoli not broccoli" is answered by saying, "when a herbalist gets his hands on it". However, this approach is rather worrying of course because when the few herbal companies that will be left after registration have registered all that they could afford then maybe the MHRA will have to go after fruit and veg merchants to maintain their funding! Tax the pharmaceuticals at source. For goodness sake there is sulforaphane in broccoli and its vegetable relatives. If sulforaphane does not sound like a pharmaceutical what does hey? So why stop at taxing the herbal industry...this stuff is in there full stop, go to the source, tax the farmer, the grocer, God!

What a joke it will be when we are handed a "patient information leaflet" or safety data sheet by the greengrocer when picking up our greens. Oh, how frustrated will they be at having to compile these documents for the MHRA, and pay for the pleasure of compiling them?
Maybe, this is what GM food is all about. The MHRA and European bods do not want us being subjected to so many medicinal chemicals in our food. Breed all those medicinal chemicals out. While you are at it limit the amount of vitamins in food too. Don't want too many of them. Blimey, think of how healthy we'd be if we left all those things in there, and the thought of people actually using every day food stuffs as medicine really should be outlawed. Was it not Hippocrates, "The Father of Medicine" who said, "Let food be your medicine, let medicine be your food"? Well, yes, but he was an ancient idiot of course who knew nothing about chemistry and how dangerous food could actually become in the hands of the health conscious consumer. He obviously did not notice how these foods mysteriously transformed into registered medicines just because of they way they were used. He of course just saw the herb, the fruit, the seed, the vegetable etc for what it was. He was not looking at plant life through the tax tinted MHRA issue shades. So, go GM now...avoid having to flood your body with those medicinal chemicals and registered medicinals, and be very scared because according to the MHRA and Europe certain plants can alter their state and become new and hideous pharmaceuticals just because of they way they are presented for sale!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


Ok, so let’s set the scene…I’m 18 years old, I’m in the British army, I’m in the midst of carnage in a battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan. It’s no ordinary battle this….the British and coalition forces are wearing uniforms, playing to the rules…the Taliban are not in uniform, they look like ordinary civilians half the time…who is who? Here I am…kill or be killed…who do I shoot at? This is a small town, we are being shot at from all sides. It’s my life or theirs, I could just shoot at everything that moves, but I can not. I am bound by international conventions, rules of engagement…a sense of duty…serving a cause…honour. Sure, in the carnage, sometimes it goes wrong and civilians get killed, but what would the politicians do if they had the gun in their hands…having to react now…NOW OR DIE?

If the politicians in question were members of the European Parliament/Commission/Gravy train then I have no doubt what they would do. They would keep shooting until the gun melted in their hands, until nothing was moving or breathing within harms reach. Why on earth would they let rules of engagement, international conventions, duty etc. get in the way? The simple answer is that they can do whatever they like. They do not need to worry about the normal rules and laws that govern our behaviour, even in the most inhuman of circumstances. They make stuff up as they go along.
What do I mean?
Well, read this…read this carefully…read it over and over again until you realise what this actually means. Read it over and over until it makes you sick…you are a sponsor to this reality, you are allowing it to happen.

…in the territory of each member state and whatever their nationality, officials and other servants of the Communities shall…be immune from legal proceedings in respect of acts performed by them in their official capacity, including their words spoken or written. They shall continue to enjoy this immunity after they have ceased to hold office…
(Protocol no. 36; privileges and immunities of the European Communities (1965), continued in the Constitution Protocol 7, Article 2)

This Protocol basically gives the Eurocrats immunity from prosecution during their tenure of office and when they have retired. Immunity from prosecution for anything, as long as they are not caught in the act. This is one of their terms of employment. Basically, according to the word of this protocol, a eurocrat can get away with anything! Just imagine having this as one of the terms of your employment contract…and by the way, you should be able to, because if we all share the same human rights laws then we should be able to share the same rights as those who are empowered to make the laws. Cherie, Mrs. Blair, where are you? Another one for you love. Wig on, come out fighting on our behalf…

Just imagine if you had this clause in your employment contract. What could you get away with? You could do anything and not even get the sack! Theft, fraud…murder, whatever! Just don’t get caught in the act. You could murder your way up the corporate ladder, being sure not to get bumped off yourself on the way up of course! Call me stupid, but I thought accountability was a vital part of any politicians brief. Move aside sonny, the moral high ground is being bulldozed by Europe to make way for a tax haven and holiday homes for politicians.

Amusingly (but not really!), eurocrats also have a right to relocate anywhere in Europe without any immigration controls etc. Takes me back to the old days of great train robbers and the like, when if you’d turned over a bank in Peckham you’d scarper with the loot down to Spain to spend your cash in the sun. Eventually, this escape route open to the old time gangsters was shut down of course. Now though the eurocrats have reopened this criminal exit route for personal use, privatised it for the euro elite. So, a eurocrat could “sequester” some of our tax euros in a dodgy deal, why not just pay it straight into the bank account straight from the tax payers pockets…just don’t be seen doing it, maybe a few million, the more the merrier, and in theory they could not be prosecuted for it at any time. Then, if a finger was pointed in their direction they could quietly “retire” to the South of France or the Costa del Taxpayer and not even have the cops chase them out…let alone actually arrest them!

Not even our soldiers, some still just inexperienced teenagers, in the midst of the carnage and the randomness of battle, when you would have expected that all civilised activity has ceased to exist, when the rule of law has gone out the window, enjoy such protection from the law.
It’s not right…is it?

Tuesday, 30 June 2009


An interesting aspect of British history is that this island has never succumbed to a revolution, uprising or civil war resulting in the permanent removal of the monarchy and the old establishment. Oliver Cromwell probably came the closest, but even his “best” efforts could not stop the tide of monarchy once more returning to our shores.

In 1381, for example, the so-called “Peasants Revolt” happened. This revolt came about because the poor peasants were being taxed to death, ostensibly to pay for the 100 years war against the French. To make matters worse, the king of the day, Richard II, was just a boy and was being manipulated by family members and advisors. The poor peasants simply had no more money to give, were fed up of the scheming ruling classes….so they kicked off!
The revolt was quite limited and short lived but a fair bit of damage was done, around London and Essex in particular. Even though the revolt was put down effectively it did actually mark the beginning of the end of serfdom. So, something was set in motion, something was achieved!

Interestingly, we British are taxed more now, than at any other time in history. But, are we still fighting the French? Are we under the despotic rule of a tyrant King or Queen? Are we just plain stupid?
The old system of monarchy is gone. In it’s place we have a new system consisting of the Westminster Parliament, the European Union, and, if you live in Scotland or Wales, our own shiny new Assemblies/Parliaments. So no surprise that we are paying more than ever, we have to support all the politicians and the whole machinery of this vast new political monarchy. We have swapped a ruling family for a ruling political class that is running out of control, inflicting more and more expensive government and legislation upon us and inflicting more of themselves upon us. It is amusingly ironic that the politicians have, and are still, limiting and removing powers and rights of the royal family and hereditary ruling classes and replacing the “real” royals and their privileges with themselves!

We have recently experienced all the scandal surrounding the MPs expenses fiasco and the total disregard our MPs have in spending/wasting our hard earned money. Just to rub the insult in deeper and deeper we now have the pathetic situation where the present government has done away effectively with hereditary Peers and instead inflict the titles upon themselves. I can not even repeat Mandelson’s title collection for fear of wanting to call myself Fawkes and smuggle sticks of dynamite into the Houses of Parliament. To make matters even more amusing I heard the news reports yesterday (29 June 2009) about how much the Royal Family costs us. 62p a year each apparently! Is that all? So, basically, no comparison whatsoever with the total financial bondage we are in to every layer of politicians from Cardiff Bay to Brussels then. Here’s another amusing comparison…Gordon (I’m an honest, working class, Presbyterian) Brown up against our present Queen. I know who I would trust. Queen equals honesty, integrity, unfailing sense of duty, straight talking; Gordon equals not even a straight answer as to the state of the weather, forget the economy! Queen equals value for money; Gordon equals bag of swag! I have never considered myself a great royalist, but you know what…I’d pay another 62p a year for Liz. But then that news story was probably yet another clever manipulation of the press by the government…ok boys, says Gordon, we’re right in the poo…I know, blame the old bird in the big house just to take the pressure of us for a while! If only I had access to the press in this way. Elvis would definitely be working in Tesco with Michael Jackson, aliens would have landed and there would be whole nations of fairies living at the end of Mr. Mandelson’s garden!

The King is dead….long live the Westminster gravy train!

The Westminster Parliament and British politicians of all shades and persuasions though are just royal small fry, lap dogs to the supreme royalty that is the European Parliament. I almost hate to use the word Parliament to describe these despots because Europe is really governed by the European Commission a non-elected elite that simply make it up as they go along! They do whatever they want basically, and are effectively in control of all they survey. The European Parliament effectively rubber stamps everything they say and they enjoy wealth and power unparalleled in history, certainly in comparison with the history of the British royal family. Maybe this is why the Westminster MPs, and all the Welsh and Scottish Parliament members cow tow and bow down to every edict issuing from Brussels. They know that if they are good boys and girls they may well get promoted to the lofty heights of Euro-royalty. They are like little bottom feeding bannerettes scuttling around the medieval battlefields, hoping one day to be accepted at the top table.

Come to think of it, how on Earth is that we are adding more and more layers of government such as the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments? Europe is taking over more and more powers and effectively making indigenous politicians redundant. So why do we have more when we actually require less? How can the Welsh and Scottish parliaments demand ever more powers when they are handing them over to HRH Brussels? Politics, and politicians, to coin a modern term, have gone viral, they are springing up everywhere, even though Brussels actually rules all. But, viruses of themselves are not intrinsically damaging, it is the body’s reaction to them that causes the trouble. When a virus gets into us and starts replicating, interfering, entering more and more of our cells the immune system attacks. It’s a bit like stepping into a mine field. Politicians need to take heed of this process as the more they interfere and replicate the more our alarm bells are going to go off, and finally when the critical political mass is reached the mines will go of…the peasants will once again revolt!

Why do we, the serfs, let these people do what they do? Maybe we are stupid? Just look at EC Treaty Article 308 Maastricht…the eerie Self Amendment Clause which basically means the European Commission can do whatever, whenever they like. They can use it to plug any gap, at any time, in any law, edict, directive they like!

Just as if to prove they are the new royalty, the Autocrats send their kids to exclusive schools together. Thus creating the next generation of eurocrats. Is this what EUgenics was really all about? Then again, in a couple of generations we’ll be back to where we started as inbreeding will cause a collapse of the House of Euro von Hapless…if we’re lucky!

The old monarchs ruled by divine right…approved and certified by God. But still watched over by God, and sometimes he obviously got a tad frustrated with them, just ask Charles the First. The Eurocrats, by virtue of the self amendment clause, have done away with such silly endorsements, and become God himself. Why are we, the peasants not revolting…the peasants in charge are truly revolting!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

I Used to be Quite Fond of Wales...Then They Made Me Pay For It!

I had the great fortune to be born and brought up in Wales. In a town called Llanelli, on the south coast of Wales, about 12 miles west of Swansea. Whilst, ultimately, in ancestral terms, “The Land of My Fathers”, I would admit, is a tad closer to Dublin than it is to Cardiff, the land of my mothers though is very definitely more Swansea, and I consider myself to be Welsh, and rather pleased about that fact!

Llanelli, especially in the 1960’s, when I turned up there, was an intensely Welsh place. One of the strongholds of the Welsh language. Even the accent identified you as being of Llanelli, or to the less discerning Welsh ear, somewhere in Carmarthenshire…or Dyfed as it became…or Carmarthenshire as it then became again. Give politicians a job hey!

Even if you were not of a Welsh speaking family in a place like Llanelli you inevitably became at the very least able to get by in the Welsh language simply by being immersed in an awful lot of Welshness. In fact it was quite normal in Llanelli and other parts of the south west of Wales for entire families to never speak English at all in everyday family and social circumstances. On the rare occasion, I have even met people of my grandparents generation who could hardly get by in English at all, and never needed to use English due to the strength of the language in the area they lived. Llanelli people were so proud of their Welshness in fact that we used to joke that if you crossed the Lougher Bridge, which took you out of town and East into Swansea, you were in England!

You would have thought that being brought up in such an environment that a powerful Welsh nationalist movement might have existed. Maybe there would have been a strong movement for self government, independence or some other assertion of a Welsh state as distinct from the rest of the UK. Well, you know what….there was nothing of the kind. Sure, some people may have banged on about a free Wales or raged with anti-English government sentiment occasionally, but there was nothing serious, no commonly held belief that we should be free of the evil clutches of the Westminster Parliament. I admit to having once met a man who claimed to be part of the Free Wales Army…but that was the closest I ever got to the serious disunity of the United Kingdom courtesy of the Welsh!

So, I’m wondering how on Earth we came to have a Welsh Assembly? Well, to cut a long story short it was a cunning plan devised by Labour governments in the 1970’s. The Welsh themselves were not demanding it, raging against Westminster or for freedom from the shackles of the English oppressor…no!

In 1979, on St. David’s Day, a referendum was held, basically asking the Welsh people if they wanted an Assembly or not. It was totally rejected, the No’s won by 4:1. No big surprise really, as I say, I had never heard the Welsh themselves discussing the possibility of self-government or Welsh home rule etc. The pubs, the chapels and the streets were not buzzing with the prospect of another layer of government. Had I been hanging out in the wrong company, was my education pathetically politically lacking….was I just stupid?

The Welsh have never really been separatists. How could we be? This island we live on has arguably been occupied for people with a claim to Welshness longer than all other ethnic groups here. Our flag is the oldest, our language is the oldest. This is our gaff. We are the British aborigines! The word Prydain is a Welsh word…it became Britain of course. We are comfortable in the knowledge that this place belongs to us, we don’t need to be separated or “nationalised“! It is obvious though we are different, and have as a nation within our British nation a distinct part of the overall British story. If not, then why would we need any form of government distinct from those nice English people next door?

However, back to politics. Not to be beaten, another labour government in 1999 launched yet another campaign trying to convince the Welsh of their need for a nice new layer of government and set of bureaucrats. This time, an expensive publicity campaign by the government saw a narrow victory for the Yes vote. Sadly, for me, my home county, Carmarthenshire (or was that Dyfed) gave the last, decisive although very narrow yes vote. Wales now had it’s own political and bureaucratic job creation scheme. Not a real law making, tax raising government, mind you (as they say in Wales); but the Welsh Assembly was born.

Then, to mark the event, they immediately did what every good government does…wasted millions of pounds (not Welsh pounds or Euro pounds I hasten to add, but British tax payers pounds) on digging a hole in Cardiff Bay. A very large hole at that. They said it was to house the new Assembly building, but we were soon to learn that it was a hole to start shovelling more taxpayers money into. The new Assembly building cost some 70 million pounds, well over budget of course, and was 4 years and 10 months, precisely, overdue!

The important consequence of the creation of the Welsh Assembly was that now the Welsh people had not just the European parliament, governing them, but the Westminster Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, and while we are at it, let’s not forget the local authorities either. If my maths is correct that’s 4 layers of Government. Four layers of government, just like the lucky Scots! Four layers complete with the usual assortment of people required to keep such a monster fed, burning up taxpayers money in order to keep it‘s tummy full. The Welsh Assembly running costs are I believe somewhere in the region of 40 million pounds. I don’t even want to add that to the cost of the other layers of government for fear of my first heart attack. Have we any idea what we are doing? Have we any idea what they are doing? Have we all gone stark staring bonkers? This is not democracy, this is not even funny any more.

Even more serious than all this self inflicted government is the fact that they can’t actually do anything useful at all. Why? They have limited powers, but do get, or are supposed to get involved with all things Welsh. Because they are all under the control of the European Parliament, and the European Parliament is telling us all what to do. However, just like the Scottish Parliament, once you bring a monster like this into one it wants more and more powers. What about tax raising powers, law making powers? When can the Assembly become a real government of the Welsh people? The bit, one feels, is being gnawed slowly. In my humble Welsh opinion, the Assembly will become a true government of the Welsh people and show an example to the rest of Britain when it proves its Welsh credentials. When it stands and fights, to the death if needs be, for Welsh culture, history and tradition. Prove you are for the Welsh people, prove you are of the Welsh people…make yourselves truly wanted by the Welsh people.

So I have a challenge for the Welsh Assembly, one they are duty bound to take up with all urgency, if indeed they value Wales and where she came from. Wales after all is the elder sibling in the British family, we should lead by example.

But first, a question for all members of the Welsh Assembly and its supporters. Is there some reason why Wales is different enough from the rest of Britain to have its own government or its own Assembly? There can only be one answer…YES. Exactly the same is true of Scotland of course. The fact we have the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament is an admission that there is something different and distinct about these areas. Something distinct and different about the history, culture and traditions of these places, just start with language. We all still share being British though.

Well, Welsh Assembly members there is a directive called THE TRADITIONAL EUROPEAN HERBAL MEDICINES DIRECTIVE being implemented by Brussels as we speak. Look at the title chaps… DIRECTING/LEGISLATING for TRADITION. ..That is a dreadful legal precedent to set! The tradition in question being herbal medicine. The only written and preserved tradition of herbal medicine in Europe is Welsh…by default British. The oldest tradition we have is the herbal one, it pre-dates language and religion, and we have it written down. Can we expect the TRADITIONAL EUROPEAN LANGUAGE AND RELIGION DIRECTIVES soon?

This herbal system is our history, our cultural heirloom, our birthright. I do not expect modern politicians to be overly familiar with tradition and culture or to be familiar with the accumulation of herbal knowledge over millennia upon which it is built, and the way it has been transmitted from generation to generation. If you are not aware of it, get familiar fast…look up the Physicians of Myddfai. When you have familiarised yourselves I expect to hear the noise of military hardware being readied from the direction of Cardiff Bay!

Herbal medicine is humanities longest tradition, not just Wales longest tradition. If you really work for Wales then you must drop everything else for this. Saying we can not do anything to overturn European law is not going to cut it. This is our culture, this is worth loading the guns for. What Brussels is doing is illegal, it is cultural genocide. This herbal tradition, and all the other precious traditions of Wales, such as our language, is the very substance of our Wales... our Prydain.

If the Welsh Assembly does not attack this Directive with everything it has and stop the European Parliament from legislating for our history then our distinct culture, the very reasons for the Assembly itself, is doomed and you will prove Wales to be no more.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Human Rights, Human Wrongs

This month we saw the ruling by the Law Lords that the right to impose “control orders” on terrorist suspects was against the human rights of the suspects and ran counter to all that the British legal system is based upon and stands for, when those orders are applied on the basis of secret evidence. The “Human Rights” ruling in question is that of the European Community.

The recent case concerns three unnamed men who have had control orders imposed because of the suspicion that they were involved with terrorism. The basis upon which the men were placed under these control orders was secret evidence, evidence that the British authorities did not want to release into the public domain for fear of compromising its effectiveness in gaining information and its sources. Two of the men, apparently, are not British or European…not that it should make a difference of course.

Control orders can mean that a suspect is tagged, given curfews, held under house arrest, stopped from making telephone calls, using the internet etc. Not a very nice situation to find yourself in, as we would all agree I’m sure.

But…what on Earth are the authorities, the Home Office, MI5, the Police etc. supposed to do if they have any suspicions about an individual and the potential for terrorism? They of course will be bound by all these rulings. Genuine terrorists on the other hand will be bound by nothing…not even control orders, doing all they can to gain advantage from such rulings and situations! This is the whole basis of terrorism…to act outside the rules, to break every rule, to disregard every right, moral and more of civilised society to strike a blow for the cause they support. One side plays by the rules…and is forced by European legislation to do so, the other sides whole purpose is to destroy the rules, and for that matter, the rule makers themselves. The “war on terrorism” is not your usual type of war of course, not the good old fashioned type! Most wars are fought by people taking up two sides, wearing recognisable uniforms and more often than not fighting whilst observing some basic set of rules, the etiquette of warfare if you would!

It’s not just the authorities that are worried by this ruling of course, we citizens should be very worried too. We after all have become default soldiers in the “war on terrorism”, targets for the terrorists, we are the other side, the opposition, the enemy. We thought we were paying the government and the police to protect us from terrorists. But alas, even these guys are neutralised, not just by the enemy but by our own and superimposed European legislative procedures. We want to be protected from the terrorists. We thought we had the people to do it, but now what?

Just look at the poor police force. They have recently had some terrible publicity focussed on them for taking action they believed was important in their role of protecting the public from potential terrorist threats. What are they to do? They are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. I for one say, “thanks chaps”. At least you are trying, and we can see that, and we should be grateful.

It actually seems to be common sense that in this “war on terrorism” you need secret sources and information. What are the alternatives?

Human rights legislation is one of the greatest attainments of a civilised and intelligent society. We all require and support the fact that we can enjoy and operate under such legislation. It has to be accepted by all though, and this is basically where it falls down of course…not everyone does accept it. Another problem with it, especially when it comes down from a European parliament is that we have the charter for Human Rights handed to us along with an endless stream of other laws, rules and regulations. So, in other words we are given our freedom but we are also given more and more laws. More and more laws mean more and more people are criminalised or legislated against. More and more freedoms are taken away. More and more criminals are created. We have basic human rights...as long as we observe an ever growing array of life controlling euro laws.

As I explained in my blog entitled “GIVEN ENOUGH (EU)ROPE…WE CAN ALL HANG”, I and other users of herbal products are being legislated against, and out of existence, by Europe. Our history and tradition are being legislated for and I and all who share in my culture, history and traditions (i.e. the British people) have no recourse to justice. I have no way to stand up and say, “hang on euro chaps I have the fundamental human right to carry on using, making and selling herbal medicines as I do, in a safe way, as we have done since time began.”
Where are the clever human rights lawyers when we need them? Mrs. Blair, I need you, give me a ring, we can have a legal field day! I shall await her call, and in the meantime more laws, rules and regulations will appear, eventually governing every aspect of our lives. Yet still, we will have the Human Rights laws that say I have rights to my tradition, culture and history. Am I alone in my confusion? So we are trapped between the human rights legislation and the plethora of other lunatic laws pouring from Brussels. The net effect is to cause everything to grind to a halt. We will not be able to enjoy one law without breaking another. Human Rights legislation is a way to do nothing, sit on your hands, give no responsibility and take no responsibility. We all end up doing nothing…absolutely nothing. Well not absolutely nothing because we will still have to do what Mama Brussels tells us to do.

This of course is also where the anti-terrorist legislation falls flat on it’s face. We can’t actually do anything about it because we have to many laws countering each other and those laws are being played cleverly by those that want to take advantage of them. The law makers and the lawyers are sitting pretty of course. The law abiding and the law itself, the police as an example, are stuffed! Common sense, along with Common Law has been done away with.

Human Rights legislation and the way it is panning out seems to mirror the way the individual and society have developed of late. We are in a generation of the ego where selfish interest rules. We want everything except the blame. Are we in the European Community or just the European…? If I want, I should have. If I want bigger breasts I can, if I want more money I’ll get a credit card off some idiot bank willing to give it to me, if I want a baby at 60 I’ll find a doctor who has no morals governing such unnatural procedures. If it all goes wrong I’ll claim damages under the Human Rights laws. Let’s not even mention what we have read in the news about certain individuals with possible connections to terrorist organisations and what they have gained from the courts of Human Rights. Human Rights law is fast becoming the ultimate fashion accessory, it comes in all colours, all sizes, is endlessly recyclable….and gets us nowhere.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Given enough (EU)rope...we can all hang...

I am a herbalist, I have been a herbalist all my working life, I grew up with herbal medicine.

Herbal medicine has never presented a problem or public threat…ever. Now though, the eurocrats in the European parliament have got their teeth into herbal medicine, specifically, over the counter herbal products. The Brussels bureaucrats want a slice of the action, and under the legally and statistically unsupportable excuse of protecting public safety, they have decided that companies producing herbal products for the “over the counter” market must register their products by producing and submitting, production, chemical, safety and historical data for each product. Not a big deal, you may think. Seems like a good idea, ensuring product quality. The problem of course, is the usual one with excessive government, WE HAVE TO PAY.

We have to pay an awful lot in fact. They do, after all have a lot of mouths to feed in Brussels. We also have to do all the work of course! The cost is so high that most herbal companies will be put out of business instantly in March 2011 when the Directive becomes law. Even the largest companies in the business are apparently doing nothing…giving up on the money grabbing European bureaucracy and concentrating on the US and rest of the world. This will mean the end of companies, stores and jobs, not to mention our basic human right to access herbal medicines as and when we need them.

I don’t think there has ever been an event in the history of any industry so terminal, and yet we seem to be sliding inexorably towards the precipice without anyone really appreciating the full potential effect of this directive or how it directly contradicts and removes our fundamental human right of choice in the medicine we use.

Most importantly, this Directive is a first in law making. It directly legislates for a tradition. A tradition that is arguably the oldest we have. Just take a look at the name of the directive…THE TRADITIONAL EUROPEAN HERBAL MEDICINE DIRECTIVE…in other words the European law makers are actually telling us they are legislating for our traditions…our culture…our history. The precedent being set by this directive is truly startling. When this directive reaches full implementation in 2011 it will effectively allow Europe to legislate for all our traditions and cultural/historic traditions and rights. Just wait for the TRADITIONAL EUROPEAN LANGUAGE DIRECTIVE, or maybe…THE TRADITIONAL EUROPEAN RELIGIONS DIRECTIVE. All the traditional British languages and all traditional British religions are of course far younger than the tradition of herbal medicine.

So what exactly am I talking about? Read on…

Initially, I would like to draw to your attention to some interesting lines from the TREATY OF ROME, establishing the European Union; It outlined some important cultural considerations.

The section entitled; Culture, article 128, states…

…The community shall contribute to the flowering of cultures of the Member states, whilst respecting their national and regional diversity…

…Action by the community shall be aimed at…improvement of the knowledge and dissemination of the culture and history of the European peoples…conservation and safeguarding of cultural heritage of European significance…

…The community shall take cultural aspects into account in its action under the other provisions of this treaty…

It is informative to follow those lines with a brief look at history:

The oldest surviving written traditional system of herbal medicine in Europe, is the Welsh system of medicine. It can be found translated into English as ‘The Physicians of Myddfai’.

The origins of this unique system of herbal medicine lay so far back in time that they were explained in the legend of ‘The lady of the Lake’. The legend was first written down at about the same time as the system itself began to be recorded in writing, around the early part of the thirteenth century. ‘The Physicians of Myddfai’, were indeed real people; Rhiwallon, physician to Rhys Gryg, a prince of South Wales, and Rhiwallon’s three sons, Cadwgan, Gruffydd and Einion. To this day people claim descent from this family!

The ‘Lady of the Lake’, the originator of the herbal formulas that Rhiwallon and his sons became so skilled in the use of, is said to have been the mother of Rhiwallon. We do not know her name, but we are told that Rhiwallon’s father first met her when she approached him from the surface of the lake called ‘Llyn y fan fach’. This is near the present day village of Myddfai on the western edge of the Black Mountains.

To cut a long story short, the Lady and Rhiwallon’s father married after a long and arduous courtship. She seems different and belongs to a group of people who are separate from the Celtic peoples, appearing more primitive in their ways, they do not appear to have had iron, for example, and are thought to be some of the earliest native peoples of this part of Britain. The marriage did not last, as it appears the Lady had difficulty dealing with the life and customs of the Celtic peoples. She leaves and returns to the lake. One day, whilst walking in the mountains near Llyn y fan fach, Rhiwallon meets his mother at a place still bearing the name ‘Llidiad y Meddygon’, ‘Physicians Gate’. At this meeting the Lady gives Rhiwallon a bag full of herbal prescriptions and even shows him where to find the herbs. She takes her leave, imploring Rhiwallon to use the information to relieve the suffering of mankind.

Whilst this story may seem quaint and even meaningless at first glance, it, in common with all myths and legends, is merely a culturally colourful way of imparting some deeper truth. It demonstrates that herbal medicine and the use of herbs is so important and so ingrained in our culture and goes back such a long way that its origins have become part of myth and legend, part of not just our shared history, but our shared imagination.

If we go back to 930 AD, then Howel Dda (Howel the Good) was King of Dyfed. He was an inspired Law maker and his laws governed the lives of ordinary Welsh folk until the time of Edward the First. However, Howel also formulates laws regarding the work of herbalists and some of the formulas from the ‘Physicians of Myddfai’ can be traced to his time. Earlier still, in the time of Prydain ab Aedd Mawr (this mans first name is the name of our country of course), around 1000 BC, medicine was included among the ‘nine rural arts’ and the practitioners of medicine were the ‘Gwyddoniaid’ or Men of Knowledge. During this time period the Men of Knowledge are said to have become the Druids, Bards and Ovates, with the Ovates being responsible for medicine. As early as 430 BC (before Hippocrates) there is evidence, from the laws of Dynwal Moelmud, that the art of herbal medicine was protected and encouraged by the state.

It is obvious that when we combine myth and actual history concerning herbal medicine in Britain it appears that the ‘Physicians of Myddfai’ contains information which may indeed originate in pre-Celtic times. In other words, this cultural tradition extends way back into the mists of the past. How old does a tradition have to be to qualify for exemption from meddling and legislation?

Our herbal knowledge did not simply get written down and remain static. It is again clear from the ‘Physicians of Myddfai’ that trade in medicines and the constant search for new herbs via trade and cross cultural contact was an important part of the process. The ‘Physicians of Myddfai’ lends from Hippocrates and the herbs mentioned shows how herbs were traded with not only other Europeans but the Greeks, Romans and Phoenicians.

We British have enjoyed, the basic human right to use, trade and develop herbal medicine over the centuries. Even King Henry the Eighth produced the ‘Herbalists Charter’ to protect the rights of herbalists. Ironically, this charter is still part of the law, not only of Britain but of the USA too! Herbal medicine and the free availability of herbs has been a standard part of the British landscape for millennia. Today, several universities offer degrees in Herbal Medicine along with further qualifications, such as doctorates.

Britain has become almost unique in Europe for its continuous use, development and innovation in the production of herbal medicine. People from all over the world come here to study the subject. In Britain our herbal tradition is unbroken.

Our fundamental historical, traditional, cultural and human right, and freedom to access and use herbal medicine, as well as develop and adapt herbal medicines is unbroken…until 2011! I demand that this tradition, of immense European cultural significance, be conserved and safeguarded.

So, what are the problems with the European Directive?

Firstly, if we look at the statements taken from the Treaty of Rome above, it would appear that traditional, cultural, historic etc would mean ‘untouchable’ in terms of legislation. In fact, we should not need to be told that our historic traditions and cultures are things that should never be tampered with. This Directive though is called the ‘Traditional Directive’…legislating for tradition/directing tradition. What legal right has anyone got to legislate for tradition? Is the very title of the Directive legal? How old does a tradition have to be before it can be immune to legislation?

The European Directive calls for all herbal products on sale over the counter in health food stores, pharmacies etc. to undergo a registration process by April 2011 in order for them to be allowed for sale.

The MHRA is in charge of implementing the directive in the UK.

Registration is a long, drawn out process of submitting paperwork regarding the quality of the product, the production methods, the chemistry of the herbs, the historical uses etc. The process can take up to 2 years and cost anything over ten thousand pounds per product. Some take a lot longer and cost a lot more of course. Needless to say, it is the producer, we, that have to do all the work and pay all the money. This is particularly interesting at a time of recession when the government is bailing out companies that have failed. Here we are, in the herbal industry, in the same recession and effectively having to pay to go out of business. Where is the compensation…the redundancy plan….the rescue package…the financial assistance? In short, there is no help, no route to the market for small companies without enough money. In 2011 we just pack up our lives work, forget that herbal medicine is one of our basic freedoms and rights and just walk away!

In Britain today there are a lot of herbal companies, just like the one I work for (Swiss Herbal Remedies, based in Cardiff). Most of these companies, just like us, are small to medium sized. It does not take a financial genius therefore to see immediately that the cost of these registrations, apart from the ongoing work involved, means certain bankruptcy! We provide over 40 herbal products to the health trade, imagine having to spend say fifteen thousand pounds on each one just to keep it on the shelf (remember, that this is not a fixed cost and can vary greatly). For us, it already means a few years turn over, forget any profit that may be available to spend on it!

The other major effect of the cost of course is that it is only a few large companies will survive. All herbal products will be given over to the hands of major, large companies, effectively killing competition dead and creating outright monopolies. Europe, once again succeeds in putting everything into the hands of mega corporations and cutting out the individuals and the small businesses.

There is actually nothing wrong with backing up products with ’quality control’ and production methodology data of course! It is the cost that kills…kills cleverly, leaving the rotting corpses of the individuals for the faceless, giant, corporate vultures

The irony of the legislation is that our herbal products are now made to UK GMP, which is the highest standard possible, it is the MHRA’s own standard. So our products already have officially recognised status as being of the highest possible quality, but because we can not afford the newly imposed paperwork to go with it some of the highest quality herbal products ever made will be taken from the shelves because we could not afford to join the club!

We will also find the incredible situation where a strong and potentially dangerous (in the wrong hands) herb such as Lobelia (that already has been registered/licensed) will remain quite happily on the shelves whilst an unregistered bilberry or artichoke tincture made to UK GMP will be removed from the shelves. Consider this situation for a moment…two perfectly safe foods effectively, removed from sale simply because they also happen to have medicinal properties! Startling, especially when, in terms of safety, cabbage is far more dangerous than bilberry or artichoke…yes, cabbage, it contains elements that kill thyroid cells. Just one example of the abject stupidity of the Directive! How far will this stupidity go? Will we see headlines in the paper such as…man arrested in possession of elderberry to be charged with intent to supply unregistered anit-virals…

When will fruit and vegetable sellers be prosecuted for making perfectly normal claims about the health giving properties of their produce? What about herbs and spices in everyday food products? Sage for example contains the chemical thujone which causes contraction of the womb and could lead to an abortion. Paxo, the makers of that world famous brand of sage and onion stuffing had better watch out. They could get really stuffed by the MHRA for causing a rapid unstuffing of the heavily pregnant thanks to the unregistered herbals in their festive fare.

Bizarrely, the herbs to be registered are those that are sold or marketed by companies as medicines. Just to state the obvious before continuing...medicinal herbs are medicinal, i.e. good for your health or able to adjust elements of your physiology for the better, simply because that's what they do. Herbs are medicinal, simply because they are, not because they are packaged or processed in some specific way. Remember also that the basic way in which a herb is used medicinally is either in its fresh state or as the dried herb made into a tea. It is still the same medicinal herb as the one made into a tincture, tablet or capsule. Oddly though, dried herbs (for culinary purposes for example) are exempt from the need to be registered, even though they are the same medicinal herbs...consider turmeric, ginger, chilli,garlic,coriander, dill, fennel,fenugreek horseradish, thyme, sage, peppermint etc etc...the list is endless. All medicinal regardless of the way they are processed...or cooked. The reason a lot of these herbs are in foods, Indian and Chinese food being perfect examples, is because they are medicinal. The cost of registration is really going to take the price of a good curry beyond the reach of us mere financial mortals! It is obvious then, that this registration fee is merely a tax on a particular sector of the herb industry, not a move to protect public safety...is it not? Food with ginger in is just as "dangerous" to public health using this warped logic as a ginger tablet is. Maybe it's just me...

I feel like an idiot having to say these things, but this is exactly where we are. Legislation improving and ensuring the quality of herbal medicines (such as the GMP standard) is to be applauded of course, but this Directive is difficult to classify in any way…it’s not good…it’s not bad….it’s just crazy, like the ideas of lunatics who just make life up as they go along!

There are currently, hundreds of herbal products in what is a vibrant, innovative market, but at the time of writing there are only 61 applications in with the MHRA for product registrations and only 28 have been granted so far. Remember, there is less than 2 years to go before full implementation, and it will take over 2 years to register a product. We could be looking at store shelves being cleared of the majority of herbal products in one swoop. Anything new after this point would have to go into the grindingly slow, expensive registration process and the innovation, competitiveness and vibrancy of the herbal market is also erased in one swoop, leaving what is left in the hands of a few companies that could afford the costly registration process. It is informative to learn that one company already holding a few registrations has never had anything to do with herbal medicine before. It’s simply turned gaining herbal registrations into a money spinning commodity to be sold on to monopoly enterprises.

The cost of registration also implies of course that the price of the remaining products will inevitably increase, further depressing the herbal market. In fact, it looks certain, that the herbal market as we now know it will vanish completely. Maybe that’s the plan anyway.

Why is this registration process required?

What the MHRA is doing is forcing the herbal world into the pharmaceutical world. These worlds do not fit together…herbs and pharmaceutical drugs are entirely different entities. I am a herbalist, not a pharmacist. Drugs are new, purified chemicals, some of which never existed before man made them. Herbs, as we know, have been with us since time began, and are complex mixtures of the plants own chemicals.

Interestingly, registered herbal products are being given new names! In fact the MHRA encourages the use of brand names. Why? Is this safe? Is this legal? Think about it...the herb using public know the names of the herbs they want. Herbs have had names, the same names, for time immemorial. Imagine turning up at your health store for some Valerian only to find it's now called Somnoease or some other stupid pseudo pharmaceutical name. A recipe for absolute disaster and a recipe in which safety has been thrown out the window completely. If you want to be safe, you call something by it's name! How stupid is that? This aspect of the Directive simply demonstrates how far removed from the reality of herbal medicine the Legislators are.

The MHRA claims that the public has to be safeguarded against the herbal medicine we have used, and have the right to use, since time began. Don’t forget either, that some of the herbs we are talking about are herbs such as Dandelion, Hawthorn, Bilberry, Fennel, Sage, Thyme, Oats, Artichoke, Ginger, Bladderwrack, Nettle, Turmeric etc, everyday, familiar food items otherwise. To suggest the public has to be safeguarded against these herbs or indeed others that have what amounts to the longest ever human clinical trials and use as everyday food items is utter nonsense.

Most importantly, there is no public safety issue involved with herbal medicine. Where are the statistics to show how dangerous herbal medicine is? How does it compare to pharmaceutical drug safety? Every now and again the MHRA will send out a warning about a herbal product that is dangerous because it contains the wrong thing or a dangerous herb or substance. More often than not the herb will be Chinese. All main stream European and US companies producing herbal remedies for the British market manufacture to extremely high standards, as I have said, the herbals I use and sell are made to the MHRA’s own GMP standard. If the MHRA really want to do something then they should close down the High Street Chinese herbalists that are appearing everywhere. The products being sold through them are not even labelled in English! In other words, they are even breaking normal trading standards rules…are they not? These people do not represent the normal British/European or US herbal trade. They simply bring products in directly from their own sources in China. On the other hand, British/European or US companies that make products from Chinese herbs make them to the usual high standards expected of the western herbal tradition.

Another major evil of the Directive is that it has the effect of distancing us even further from the natural world. It creates a kind of “us in here, them out there kind of situation”, where the natural world is somehow dangerous and out to get us unless we are protected from it. After millions of years of evolving together , or if you prefer, after millennia of having been given by God the medicines that we need in the natural world around us, the European Parliament and the MHRA comes along and suddenly decides that after all this time we have learned nothing, or if you prefer, that God is an idiot, and we suddenly need protecting from Hawthorn berries and the like. Since we first appeared on this planet the knowledge we have gained in the use of herbs is immense. Incredible civilisations over millennia have given us so much knowledge in the use of herbs that we do not have enough lifetimes to learn it all. Most importantly, we have learned how to use herbs safely, and which herbs are safe. It is that simple really, but we have forgotten this in the technologically advanced Western world because of our dependence on chemical medicine and drugs, and the fact that they are sold so effectively to us!

Here we are living in a time when we in the Western world need to get back to nature but our law makers are distancing us even further from it. The World Health Organisation itself says that, even in this day and age, over 70% of the Earth’s population still use herbal medicine as its only or main form of medicine. Well, surprise, surprise , we would wouldn’t we….this stuff grows on trees….duh!

So there we have it.
Europe is achieving something incredible, and setting one of the most dangerous precedents in history. Not only is our right to remain attached to the natural world for our medicine being severed, but the right to legislate for tradition, culture and history is being claimed. Be warned and be very scared European people…today your oldest tradition is being taken away from you, tomorrow it will be your tongues and your Gods.