Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Food Allergics Beware: Herbal Products May Contain Surprise Ingredients Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/12/food-allergics-beware-herbal-products-may-contain-surprise-ingredients/#ixzz2hge0IfdB

From the 12 October 2013 article at Time- Health and Family

New research for the University of Guelph shows that the majority of herbal products on the market contain ingredients that are not listed on their labels.

The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, used DNA barcoding technology to assess the components of 44 herbal products from 12 companies. They found that 60% of the products contained plant species that were not listed on the label, and 20% used fillers like rice, soybeans, and wheat which were also not divulged on the bottles.

For instance, products sold as St. John’s wort supplement, which is sometimes used to treat depression, contained Senna alexandrina, which is a plant that spurs laxative symptoms. Other products contained Parthenium hysterophorus (feverfew), which is known to cause swelling and mouth numbness. One ginkgo product contained Juglans nigra (black walnut), which should not be consumed by people with nut allergies — but this warning was not noted on the label.

“It’s common practice in natural products to use fillers such as these, which are mixed with active ingredients. But a consumer has a right to see all of the plant species used in producing a natural product on the list of ingredients,” lead author Steven Newmaster, an integrative biology professor at the Guelph-based Biodiversity Institute of Ontario said in a statement.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/12/food-allergics-beware-herbal-products-may-contain-surprise-ingredients/#ixzz2hgeN2Srs

 

 

October 14, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DNA barcoding reveals fraud and secrets

The Barcoding Pipeline

http://www.barcodeoflife.org/content/about/what-dna-barcoding

Quack medicines, insect immigrants, and what eats what among secrets revealed by DNA barcodes

Global ‘barcode blitz’ accelerates; 450 experts converge on Adelaide Nov. 28-Dec. 3
Agenda in Adelaide: www.dnabarcodes2011.org/conference/program/schedule/index.php

This is the cover of the report: “Barcoding Life Highlights 2011.”

 

From the Eureka News Alert, Sun Nov 27, 2011 00:00 

(Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL)) The newfound scientific power to quickly “fingerprint” species via DNA is being deployed to unmask quack herbal medicines, reveal types of ancient Arctic life frozen in permafrost, expose what eats what in nature, and halt agricultural and forestry pests at borders, among other applications across a wide array of public interests….
DNA barcode technology has already sparked US Congressional hearings by exposing widespread “fish fraud” — mislabelling cheap fish as more desirable and expensive species like tuna or snapper. Other studies this year revealed unlisted ingredients in herbal tea bags…..

Hot new applications include:

Substitute ingredients in herbal medicines

High demand is causing regular “adulteration or substitution of herbal drugs,” barcoding experts have discovered.

Indeed, notes Malaysian researcher Muhammad Sharir Abdul Rahman, one fraudster in his country treated rubber tree wood with quinine to give it a bitter taste similar to Eurycoma longifolia — a traditional medicine for malaria, diabetes and other ailments.

A library of DNA barcodes for Malaysia’s 1,200 plant species with potential medicinal value is in development, eventually offering “a quick one step detection kit” to reduce fraud in the lucrative herbal medicine industry, says Mr. Sharir….

Invasive pests

Until now, border inspection to keep agricultural pests, disease-carrying insects and invasive species from entering a country has been a hit-and-miss effort. Barcoding offers a tool to get same-day answers for accepting or rejecting imports, an issue of acute economic importance to Australia and New Zealand….

Assessing water quality

Scientists in Southern California and elsewhere are pioneering barcodes to assess freshwater marine water quality and its impact on marine life in, sand, sediment, and rocks or in mud in rivers and offshore.

Traditionally after collecting a bulk water sample, taxonomists must identify by sight several thousand invertebrates, a process requiring months and thousands of dollars. DNA barcodes enable them to analyze bulk samples in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost.

Similar projects underway in Korea, Iraq, Belgium and the Baltic region will be presented in Adelaide.

DNA barcoding is emerging as the tool of choice for monitoring water quality, DNA barcode libraries of aquatic insects under construction. New technologies are being developed and tested that will allow faster and more complete analyses of entire biological communities in streamwater on ‘DNA microchips’ and through next-generation sequencing.

Says Dr. Schindel: “It used to take weeks or months to analyze the organisms in streams to determine water quality. Now it takes hours at a fraction the cost.”…

Click here to see the entire medium long news release

November 28, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , | Leave a comment

   

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