By Martin Watt

A few scientists have acknowledged that one cannot assume genotoxicity in
natural products simply because one isolated chemical demonstrates this
property. Certain plant chemicals in isolation are known to cause severe skin
reactions. However, fragrance chemists know that when these same chemicals
are mixed with others, in a similar manner to that occurring in nature, then a
significant reduction in the chemicals ability to cause problems often occurs.
Such synergistic effects are rarely considered when the toxicological properties
of plant extracts are investigated; instead all they tend to look at are the
effects of individual chemicals.

Some researchers investigating plant toxicity, and whose employers whether
public or private expect results. Find that if they can't confirm toxic effects
from using the whole plant or its extracts, then they can always create them.
They do this by looking for trouble among the hundreds of individual chemicals
occurring in most plants. In even more desperate efforts to prove their point
when they can't find evidence of toxicity in higher mammals, they turn their
attention to lower creatures and/or highly vulnerable isolated tissues. These
are then exposed to far higher amounts of substances than the creatures, or
humans, are ever likely to be exposed to in their lifetime. The resulting
problems such as cancer, organ and embryo damage, are then deemed in their
eyes to mean the substance is dangerous. By such methods even olive oil
looks embryotoxic.
A. Abramovici et al. Toxicology 1983, 29, 143-156.

We would all be well advised to remember that some of the most potent plant
toxins have been used for generations as our most potent medicines. Examples
such as Atropine, Morphine, Digitalis are all potent toxins in excess, yet in the
appropriate amount are invaluable therapeutic agents: So are many other so
called “toxic plants.”

Why do most pharmacologists, and doctors assume that only they are capable
of using potent natural medicines safely? Traditional healers have used
powerful medicinal plants for hundreds of thousands of years. Of course along
the way, world-wide, these medicines have killed a few thousand people.
However, if the deaths resulting from misuse of plant based medicines over the
last 100.000 years were totalled. I doubt that they would amount to anywhere
near the numbers of people killed or severely damaged world-wide in the last
50 years by synthesised drugs and other man made chemicals.

These hazardous substances have been developed by science graduates, who
then have the nerve to pontificate on how dangerous some of the chemicals in
plants are. If their methods of investigating the dangers of substances were so
reliable. Why is it we have had a constant string of drugs being removed from
sale, due to severe adverse side effects which have not shown up in pre-launch

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