No Longer Practicing Chinese Herbology
Since I started practicing Chinese herbology in the mid-1990's, I have always been skeptical about the quality of TCM patent herbal formulas and powdered herbs from China. For over a decade, I only purchased whole herbs from a company called Spring Wind Herb Company in Berkeley, California. Spring Wind was one of the last bastions of herbs from China that were free from pesticides, herbicides, and other nastiness; and, for many years, I felt comfortable that the herbs I bought from Spring Wind allowed me to make my own powders that were clean, safe, and affordable for my patients and myself.
Sometime in the mid-2010's, Spring Wind announced that they were no longer able to sell herbs from China without residual pesticides. They intimated that they were even having difficulty finding Chinese dandelions without contaminants. They later reported that they found a shipment of one herb (yinyanghuo) to contain measurable amounts of Lindane--an agricultural and medical pesticide that was banned by 52 countries in 2006.
For further reading on Lindane: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindane
There is precedent for my fear of the potential toxicity of Chinese herbs. Over the past few decades, there have been documented cases of toxic toys, toothpaste, pet foods, pharmaceuticals, and other products that have left people and animals sick or dead. Analyses of TCM patent formulas have shown adulteration and contamination with pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, plastics, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and other toxic substances. DNA from dogs and cats have also been reportedly found in some Chinese herbal medicines.
I buy almost no foods or herbs from China for my own consumption. Whenever I do eat something from China, I realize that I am taking a chance with my health. I came to an ethical dilemma in my practice of Chinese herbology. I cannot recommend that my patients eat anything I would not eat myself.
Here is a link to Spring Wind Herb Company's page about Chinese herb toxicity. Please read and decide for yourself if you feel safe taking herbs from China or giving them to your beloved critter friends. http://springwind.com/thoughts-about-pesticides
Indeed, there are Chinese herbs now being grown in the USA, and other countries, where there are better enforced agricultural regulations than those in China. Unfortunately, these safe herbs are prohibitively expensive for the scope of my practice.
RICHARD PANZER, D.V.M., M.S.