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Reporting Adverse Reactions to Herbal Ingestants

Walter H. Lewis, PhD
JAMA. 1978;240(2):109-110. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290020031011.
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To the Editor.—  Increasing numbers of persons are purchasing plant materials for use as foods from an expanding health-food-store industry. Unfortunately, the American public is unaware of the potential dangers of certain of these products; they assume and are accustomed to the fact that goods purchased from retail stores generally have been tested and approved for human use. However, many newly available plant products have not been tested; their effects on the body are not fully understood, or their effects simply are unknown to the majority of casual purchasers.1Recent examples illustrate the ignorance of the public of the hazards inherent in certain herbal preparations. Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile and Chamomilla recutita), one of the most popular herbal teas made from flower heads, may cause either anaphylactic shock2 or allergic rhinitis in atopic persons known to be sensitive to ragweed pollen. Moreover, senna leaves, flower buds, and young pods

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