Quality Control in Herbal Manufacturing

Some people have apparently read that licorice root may be contraindicated in the treatment of cancer. Chinese medicine uses small amounts of licorice root in nearly every formula because of its natural cortisone-like effect. This alleviates the odds of possible allergic reactions to other herbs in the formula. Taking licorice root singly as a supplement is not usually recommended unless that individual has a specific need for concentrated amounts of licorice. Clinical studies on licorice suggest that extremely high doses over a period of several weeks are required before androgenic and other symptoms appear.

It is important to mention this because the Eclectic formula, Trifolium Compound, contains licorice. This formula is virtually identical to the Hoxsey Elixirex and to Dr. John Christopher's Anti-Cancer Formula. Traditionally, this formula was prepared as a syrup because the sweetness aids assimilation and tonifies people who are weakened by disease or aging. Many people with poor digestion do not assimilate herbs administered in capsule or tableted form and some do not benefit as much from teas as from syrups.

My own clinical uses of substitute products, i.e., red clover formulas based on the original Eclectic preparation, is that they were less effective when the same herbs were provided in capsule form. This formula is probably the most strenuously researched formula in American herbalism. For many decades, there was jealous competition to acquire Harry Hoxsey's secret cure for cancer. The AMA was the first to try to purchase the formula and when Hoxsey failed to agree to their terms, the AMA began the most vicious and personal assault on any individual in medical history. Hoxsey was relentlessly persecuted; he was arrested more than a hundred times, and his formula eventually became a matter of court record. Only then did it become clear that the formula was identical to that used by countless others.

Finally, the Office of Technology Assessments hired a consultant, Patricia Ward Spain, to research the formula. She reported that nine of the ten herbs in the formula possessed anti-cancer effects. Her report is a matter of Congressional Record and has been a main thrust for developing the Office of Alternative Medicine and recently the most welcome new funding.

This said, I would never claim that any formula is a "cure" for cancer. All protocols, whether allopathic or holistic, should properly be regarded as treatments. Cure is a big word and implies that recurrence and metastasis would never develop. In actuality, the value of a treatment is generally measured in terms of years of survival, not quality of life during those years nor cure. In the opinion of most people, cure is rare. It occasionally occurs but is almost always attended by the intangible suggestion of "miracle." God cures, herbs alleviate symptoms.

For the record, the Planetary Formula now sold by the name of "Red Clover Combination" used to be sold as "River of Life." It is a different traditional formula, more Thomsonian than Eclectic. There are many herbalists producing and selling comparable blood cleansing formulas, even chains of health food stores with the classical name. When Michael Tierra took chaparral out of River of Life, he changed the name of the formula to Red Clover Combination. I feel this is somewhat misleading as the formula is different from trifolium compounds, which are also produced by many herbalists.

For the sake of clarity, let me say that the Planetary Formula is an absolutely superb blood cleanser. I have used it extensively for many years, both for myself and others. It will relieve many of the symptoms of blood toxicity: anger, irritability, redness, itching, and even the hazards associated with poisoning—whether from venoms, die off, chemotherapy, or environmental causes.

Like most herbal medicines, Red Clover Combination is not intended for permanent use. Unless there are new causes of toxemia, the formula is generally only used for six months. In acute cases, I have used as many as 72 tablets in a single day and then reduced the dosage when the crisis began to abate. The indications for this use would be gangrene or venom. One person was spared an amputation after using Red Clover Combination. He took six tablets every half hour while being prepared for surgery. The surgery was canceled when it became apparent that the herbs would work. Another person was bitten by a brown recluse spider. The beginnings of radiating purple lines appeared. She took 72 tablets on the first day, then dropped to 36 on the second, then 24, then 12, and finally 6, the recommended dose.

Recommended doses are conservative. The manufacturing standard (for herbal preparations) is basically that little or no harm would stem from swallowing an entire bottle at one time. In the case of Red Clover Combination, risks would be limited primarily to bilious reactions. The formula stimulates the liver so that the appetite could increase as might peristalsis. In this regard, the formula can be used to purge the body of toxic fire.

Red Clover Combination (RCC) has a specific use for blood purification and is an ideal formula to use periodically to cleanse the body of toxins. Toxins are hot and the formula is cooling. It can be used as a purificatory ritual once a year, preferably after summer to rid the body of accumulated heat. It can also be used following any specific exposure to toxins. If the level of toxicity is extremely high, it can be used in combination with Hepato-Pure (HP), another Planetary Formula. This is a very intense liver dredger and the reason for combining RCC with HP is to prevent reabsorption of toxins that are dumped from the liver after taking HP. It can also be used in combination with Women's Treasure (WT) when menstrual periods are attended by clumping of the blood and darkness of color. Again, these formulas are not intended for permanent use. Most people can discontinue HP in 2-6 months and WT in 2-4 months.

For the record, I have never suggested Hepato-Pure to anyone without protecting the liver with milk thistle. All thistles have liver protection benefits, but milk thistle is specific for protecting the liver from damage caused by exposure to chemicals, including carcinogens.

Now, back to the formula that triggered this rather long report. Trifolium Compound preparations are widely available. As noted, I found the tableted and capsule forms difficult to assimilate. To understand how and why this is, we have to consider two points. First, there is the issue of what is called "digestive power." Some people actually eliminate whole capsules without any signs of their having passed all the way through the gastrointestinal tract. This is a metabolic weakness, one often linked to cancer as it relates to poor catabolic functions. Second, there is the eternal question of "active constituents." In scientific medicine, as opposed to traditional medicine, it is important to identify the chemical constituent that produces the desired effect. For instance, is it an alkaloid, such as sanguinarin or hydrastin, or perhaps a tannin or acid? If this constituent can be isolated, it can be synthesized and sold for much more than the herb. This is the basis of some chemotherapeutic drugs like vincristine and vinblastine, cytotoxic agents derived from the Madagascar periwinkle.

To make a good herbal product, the manufacturing process must address the active constituents and these must be soluble using the method employed by the herbalist. In other words, although there are clinical studies showing that Venus fly trap is a potent anticancer herb, the studies were done using sterile extracts and intravenous injections. Nothing in the studies suggested that a capsule containing the same herb would be effective.

So, if we need to avail ourselves of the active ingredients, we need to know whether they are water or alcohol soluble and how best to administer the herbs. That is issue number one. Issue number two is how to make a safe product. According to ancient herbal traditions, all herbs are synergistic. They work best in combination with other herbs. Tibetans go one step further. By clairvoyant observations dating back at least 800 years, they found that the active ingredient of all herbs is light. The manufacturing process must not destroy this subtle and invisible light—or, just as importantly, the other constituents that buffer the organs from damage.

This is a high standard for herbal practice. Since not many herbalists have the particular clairvoyance needed to create formulas, most rely on tradition and clinical observations. They modify the formulas when they find a particular need for such and great advances sometimes occur under these conditions. My own Golden Myrrical is one such formula, but it was not plucked out of thin air. It was based on sound principles that endure fashions in medicine.

The trifolium formulas are similar. There are the basic ingredients, ones that include the crucial berberines. People used to use barberry and now many prefer Oregon grape root. It is substituted using time honored principles, including the tenet that Nature is generous and provides many alternatives. There are at least 2500 herbs that have been found useful in treating cancer. Historically, some people added potassium iodide to the herbal formula. Recently, people have used Irish moss, alfalfa, or recommended supplemental amounts of something like Lugol Solution.

If considering herbal products, do not neglect the sourcing of herbs; methods of productions; and use. Some herbalists use fresh herbs that are organically grown or wildcrafted. My own experience with these products is that they are superior. To tell you how serious the quality control issues are, I will relate a true but uncomfortable story from my Clinic days. We had a fairly good size herbal pharmacy, called Mountain Medicines. We dated everything we received and rolled over the bulk herbs every few months. We sold these at drastically under our original cost to a local herb producer (whose herbs I no longer use because I doubt the freshness because of my own experiences.) In effect, the larger the producer, the greater the risk that the herbs will be second or third quality, even adulterated as with the hugely popular St. John's Wort. Importers pour hypericin over any kind of cut up herb and because lab tests will prove the presence of the active constituent, the herb will be deemed to be authentic. I am told, for instance, that almost all violet products used in aromatherapy are actually made with spinach—and this is legal because they go to the perfumery industry and from thence to aromatherapists and others whose intent is to use real violets.

By knowing the grower, these tragic substitutions can be averted. By using correct producing processes, which sometimes include the need for both water and alcohol extraction, cheaper and less effective shortcut products can be avoided.

 

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