MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

herbal medicine

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to seven companies for illegally selling dietary supplements that claim to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent cardiovascular disease or related conditions, such as atherosclerosis, stroke or heart failure, in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The FDA is urging consumers not to use these or similar products because they have not been evaluated by the FDA to be safe or effective for their intended use and may be harmful.

The warning letters were issued to:

“Given that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., it’s important that the FDA protect the public from products and companies that make unlawful claims to treat it. Dietary supplements that claim to cure, treat, mitigate or prevent cardiovascular disease and related conditions could potentially harm consumers who use these products instead of seeking safe and effective FDA-approved treatments from qualified health care providers,” said Cara Welch, Ph.D., director of the Office of Dietary Supplement Programs in the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “We encourage consumers to remain vigilant when shopping online or in stores to avoid purchasing products that could put their health at risk.”

Under the FD&C Act, products intended to diagnose, cure, treat, mitigate or prevent disease are drugs and are subject to the requirements that apply to drugs, even if they are labeled as dietary supplements. Unlike drugs approved by the FDA, the agency has not evaluated whether the unapproved products subject to the warning letters announced today are effective for their intended use, what the proper dosage might be, how they could interact with FDA-approved drugs or other substances, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns.

The FDA advises consumers to talk to their doctor, pharmacist or other health care provider before deciding to purchase or use any dietary supplement or drug. Some supplements might interact with medicines or other supplements. Health care providers will work with patients to determine which treatment is the best option for their condition.

If a consumer thinks that a product might have caused a reaction or an illness, they should immediately stop using the product and contact their health care provider. The FDA encourages health care providers and consumers to report any adverse reactions associated with FDA-regulated products to the agency using MedWatch or the Safety Reporting Portal.

The FDA has requested responses from the companies within 15 working days stating how they will address the issues described in the warning letters or provide their reasoning and supporting information as to why they think the products are not in violation of the law. Failure to correct violations promptly may result in legal action, including product seizure and/or injunction.

Camilla spent ten days at the end of October in a sophisticated meditation and fitness center in southern India. Life has recently been hectic for the Queen Consort: at 75, she has been in a non-stop succession of various ceremonies for the funeral of Elizabeth II, always one step behind her husband, not to mention her new status as sovereign… Enough to block her chakras in no time.

She came to the resort with her bodyguards and a handful of friends and was able to take advantage of the tailor-made treatments concocted for her by the master of the house, Dr Issac Mathai, who created this high-end holistic centre on a dozen hectares of scented gardens near Bangalore. The program includes massages, herbal steam baths, yoga, naturopathy, homeopathy, meditation, and Ayurvedic treatments to “cleanse, de-stress, soothe and revitalize the mind, body and soul”, as the establishment’s website states.

Guests are required to follow an individualized, meat-free diet, with organic food from the resort’s vegetable gardens, based on lots of salads or soups – Camilla is said to be a fan of sweet corn soup with spinach. Cigarettes and mobile phones are not allowed, although it is assumed that Camilla must have some privileges due to her status… and the basic rate for the suites, which starts at $950 a night – the price of the rooms varies between $260 and $760, the rate including a consultation with the doctors.

Charles and Camilla have been fans of the Soukya Centre in India for a decade. The place corresponds in every way to their deep-rooted convictions about health. Like her husband, Camilla is a follower of organic food, she also practices yoga and treats her face with creams made from nettle and bee venom. For his part, Charles has long been an advocate of alternative medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and also hypnosis… He even set up a foundation to support complementary medicine by lobbying the British health service to include it in complementary therapies for certain patients, which caused an uproar among the pundits of traditional medicine.

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If you suspected I was (yet again) sarcastic about the royal couple, you are mistaken. The text above is only my (slightly shortened) translation of an article published in the French magazine LE POINT (even the title is theirs). I found the article amusing and interesting; so, I looked up the Indian health center. Here are some of the things I found:

The 1st impression is that they are not shy about promotion calling themselves THE WORLD’S BEST AYURVEDA TREATMENT CENTER. The doctor in charge was once a ‘Consultant Physician’ at the Hale Clinic in London, where he treated a number of high-profile people. As his professional background, he offers this:

M.D. (Homeopathy); Hahnemann Post-Graduate Institute of Homeopathy, London M.R.C.H, London; Chinese Pulse Diagnosis and Acupuncture, WHO Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, China; Trained (Mind-Body Medicine Programme) at Harvard Medical School, USA

The approach of the center is described as follows:

The fundamental principle underlying Holistic Treatment is that the natural defense and immune system of an individual when strengthened, has the potential to heal and prevent diseases. In the age of super-specialisation where human beings are often viewed as a conglomeration of organs, it is crucial to understand ourselves as multi-dimensional beings with a body, mind and spirit. These interconnected dimensions need to be in perfect harmony to ensure real well-being.

And about homeopathy, they claim this:

Homeopathy originated in 1796 in Germany, and was discovered by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German scientist. Homeopathy is popular today as a non-intrusive, holistic system of medicine. Instead of different medicines for different parts of the body, one single constitutional remedy is prescribed. As a system of medicine, Homeopathy is highly scientific, safe, logical and an extremely effective method of healing. For over 200 years people have used Homeopathy to maintain their good health, and also to treat and cure a wide range of illnesses like allergies, metabolic disorders, atopic dermatitis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Auto-immune disorders.

At this stage, I felt I had seen enough. Yes, you are right, we did not learn a lot from this little exploration. No, hold on! We did learn that homeopathy is highly scientific, safe, logical, and extremely effective!

 

The question, however, is should we believe it?

Turmeric is a commonly used herbal product implicated in causing liver injury. The aim of this case series was to describe the clinical, histologic, and human leukocyte antigen (HLA) associations of turmeric-associated liver injury enrolled in the U.S. Drug Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN).

All adjudicated cases enrolled in DILIN between 2004-2022 in which turmeric was an implicated product were reviewed. Causality was assessed using a 5-point expert opinion score. Available products were analyzed for the presence of turmeric using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography. Genetic analyses included HLA sequencing.

Ten cases of turmeric-associated liver injury were found, all enrolled since 2011 and six since 2017. Of the 10 cases, 8 were women, 9 were White and the median age was 56 years (range, 35-71). Liver injury was hepatocellular in 9 patients and mixed in one. Liver biopsies in 4 patients showed acute hepatitis or mixed cholestatic-hepatitic injury with eosinophils. Five patients were hospitalized, and one patient died of acute liver failure. Chemical analysis confirmed the presence of turmeric in all 7 products tested; 3 also contained piperine (black pepper). HLA typing demonstrated that 7 patients carried HLA-B*35:01, 2 of whom were homozygous, yielding an allele frequency of 0.450 compared to population controls of 0.056-0.069.

The authors concluded that liver injury due to turmeric appears to be increasing in the United States, perhaps reflecting usage patterns or increased combination with black pepper. Turmeric causes potentially severe liver injury that is typically hepatocellular, with a latency of 1 to 4 months and strong linkage to HLA-B*35:01.

Turmeric or curcumin is said to cause multiple effects, such as inhibiting inflammation, oxidative stress, tumor cell proliferation, cell death, and infection. Yet, sound clinical trials to test whether these effects might translate into health benefits are rare. In addition, the bioavailability of oral turmeric supplements is known to be low.

Turmeric has been used in food for millennia and is thus generally considered to be safe. Known adverse effects include gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and diarrhea and allergic reactions. Clearly, the new case series casts considerable doubt on the safety of turmeric. Yet, one ought to point out that the number of cases is low (but, on the other hand under-reporting can be assumed to be high). Furthermore, we should take into account that the quality of commercially available products is often low. One must therefore ask whether the liver injuries were truly caused by turmeric itself or by contaminants.

My conclusion is that turmeric is unquestionably an interesting plant with considerable potential as a medicine. At present, there is much hype surrounding it. Yet, hype is almost always contra-productive. If we want to know the true value of turmeric, we need to solve the bioavailability problem and do much more research into its safety and efficacy for defined conditions.

The present study was conducted to evaluate the effect of date palm on the sexual function of infertile couples. It was designed as a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted on infertile women and their husbands who referred to infertility clinics in Iran in 2019.

The intervention group was given a palm date capsule and the control group was given a placebo. Data were collected through female sexual function index and International Index of Erectile Function.

The total score of sexual function of females in the intervention group increased significantly from 21.06 ± 2.58 to 27.31 ± 2.59 (P < 0.0001). Also, other areas of sexual function in females (arousal, orgasm, lubrication, pain during intercourse, satisfaction) in the intervention group showed a significant increase compared to females in the control group, which was statistically significant (P < 0.0001).

All areas of male sexual function (erectile function, orgasmic function, sexual desire, intercourse satisfaction and overall satisfaction) significantly increased in the intervention group compared to the control group (P < 0.0001).

The authors concluded that the present study revealed that 1-month consumption of date palm has a positive impact on the sexual function of infertile couples.

In an attempt to explain the rational for this study, the authors state that, since ancient times, date palm has been used in Greece, China and Egypt to treat infertility and increase sexual desire and fertility in females. Rasekh indicated that Palm Pollen is effective in sperm parameters of infertile men. Administering date palm to male rats and measuring the sexual parameters of rats showed an improvement in their sexual function. Studies on animals have shown its effect on the parameters of semen analysis in male animals and increasing hormones.

So, the trial was what might call a ‘long shot’, even a very long one. But that does not render its findings less interesting. If the results could be confirmed, they would certainly have considerable significance.

But can they be confirmed?

I have some doubts.

Two things are remarkable, in my view.

  1. The study only had subjective endpoints.
  2. There was as good as no placebo effect in the control group.

How can this be?

One explanation might be that the verum and the placebo capsules were easily identified by their taste of other features. This would then lead to many patients being ‘deblinded’; in other words, the patients on verum would have known and expected to experience an effect, while the patients on placebo would have also known and be disappointed thus not even experiencing a placebo response.

This might be an apt reminder for trialists to include a check of the success of blinding in their list of outcome measures.

 

Even though most people do not think about it in this way, tea is a herbal remedy. We know that it is pleasant, but is it also effective?

This study explored the associations between tea drinking and the incident risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus(T2 DM). A dynamic prospective cohort study among a total of 27 841 diabetes-free permanent adult residents randomly selected from 2, 6, and 7 rural communities between 2006-2008, 2011-2012, and 2013-2014, respectively. Questionnaire survey, physical examination, and laboratory test were carried out among the participants. In 2018, the researchers conducted a follow-up through the electronic health records of residents. Cox regression models were applied to explore the association between tea drinking and the incident risk of T2 DM and estimate the hazard ratio(HR), and its 95%CI.

Among the 27 841 rural community residents in Deqing County, 10 726(39%) were tea drinkers, 8215 (77%) of which were green tea drinkers. A total of 883 new T2 DM incidents were identified until December 31, 2018, and the incidence density was 4.43 per 1000 person-years (PYs). The incidence density was 4.07/1000 PYs in those with tea drinking habits and 4.71/1000 PYs in those without tea drinking habits. The incidence density was 3.79/1000 PYs in those with green tea drinking habits. After controlling for sex, age, education, farming, smoking, alcohol consumption, dietary preference, body mass index, hypertension, impaired fasting glucose, and family history of diabetes, the risk of T2 DM among rural residents with tea drinking habits was 0.79 times higher than that among residents without tea drinking habits(HR=0.79, 95%CI 0.65-0.96), and the risk of T2 DM among residents with green tea drinking habits was 0.72 times higher than that among residents without tea drinking habits(HR=0.72, 95%CI 0.58-0.89). No significant associations were found between other kinds of tea and the risk of T2 DM, nor the amount of green tea-drinking.

The authors concluded that drinking green tea may reduce the risk of T2 DM among adult population in rural China.

Epidemiological studies of this nature resemble big fishing expeditions that can bring up all sorts of rubbish and – if lucky – also some fish. The question thus is whether this study identified an interesting association or just some odd rubbish.

A quick look into Medline seems to suggest great caution. Here are the conclusions from a few further case-control studies:

Thus the question of whether tea drinking might prevent diabetes remains open, in my view.

Yet, the paper might teach us two important lessons:

  1. Case-control studies must be taken with a pinch of salt.
  2. Correlation is not the same as causation.

This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of Persian barley water in controlling the clinical outcomes of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. It was designed as a single-blind, add-on therapy, randomized controlled clinical trial and conducted in Shiraz, Iran, from January to March 2021. One hundred hospitalized COVID-19 patients with moderate disease severity were randomly allocated to receive routine treatment (per local protocols) with or without 250 ml of Persian barley water (PBW) daily for two weeks. Clinical outcomes and blood tests were recorded before and after the study period. Multivariable modeling was applied using Stata software for data analysis.

The length of hospital stay (LHS) was 4.5 days shorter in the intervention group than the control group regardless of history of cigarette smoking (95% confidence interval: -7.22, -1.79 days). Also, body temperature, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP), and creatinine significantly dropped in the intervention group compared to the control group. No adverse events related to PBW occurred.

The authors from the Department of Traditional Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran, concluded that this clinical trial demonstrated the efficacy of PBW in minimizing the LHS, fever, and levels of ESR, CRP, and creatinine among hospitalized COVID-19 patients with moderate disease severity. More robust trials can help find safe and effective herbal formulations as treatments for COVID-19.

I must admit, I did not know about PBW. The authors explain that PBW is manufactured from Hordeum vulgare via a specific procedure. According to recent studies, barley is rich in constituents such as selenium, tocotrienols, phytic acid, catechin, lutein, vitamin E, and vitamin C; these compounds are responsible for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Barley grains also have immune-stimulating effects, antioxidant properties, protective effects on the liver and digestive systems, anti-cancer effects, and act to reduce uric acid levels.

But even if these effects would constitute a plausible mechanism for explaining the observed effects (which I do not think they do), the study itself is more than flimsy.

I do not understand why researchers investigating an important issue do not make sure that their study is as rigorous as possible.

  • Why not use an adequately large sample size?
  • Why not employ a placebo?
  • Why not double-blind?
  • Why not report the most important outcome, i.e. mortality?

As it stands, nobody will take this study seriously. Perhaps this is a good thing – but perhaps PBW does have positive effects (I know it’s a long shot) and, in this case, a poor-quality study would only prevent an effective therapy come to light.

It has been reported that the wife of a Northern California congressman died late last year after ingesting a plant that is generally considered safe and is used as an herbal remedy for a variety of ailments, including diabetes, obesity, and high cholesterol. Lori McClintock, the wife of U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, died from dehydration due to gastroenteritis caused by “adverse effects of white mulberry leaf ingestion.”  The coroner’s office ruled her death an accident. The original death certificate, dated Dec. 20, 2021, listed the cause of death as “pending.”

Tom McClintock found his 61-year-old wife unresponsive at their Elk Grove, California, home on Dec. 15, 2021, according to the coroner’s report. He had just returned from Washington, D.C., after voting in Congress the night before. It’s unclear from the autopsy report whether Lori McClintock took a dietary supplement containing white mulberry leaf, ate fresh or dried leaves, or drank them in a tea, but a “partially intact” white mulberry leaf was found in her stomach, according to the report.

McClintock’s death underscores the risks of the vast, booming market of dietary supplements and herbal remedies, which have grown into a $54 billion industry in the United States — one that both lawmakers and health care experts say needs more government scrutiny. “Many people assume if that product is sold in the United States of America, somebody has inspected it, and it must be safe. Unfortunately, that’s not always true,” U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) said on the Senate floor this spring when he introduced legislation to strengthen oversight of dietary supplements.

Daniel Fabricant, CEO and president of the Natural Products Association, which represents the dietary supplements industry, questioned whether McClintock’s death was related to a supplement. “It’s completely speculative. There’s a science to this. It’s not just what a coroner feels,” said Fabricant, who oversaw dietary supplements at the FDA during the Obama administration. “People unfortunately pass from dehydration every day, and there’s a lot of different reasons and a lot of different causes.” Fabricant said it would have been ideal had the coroner or the family reported her death to the FDA so the agency could have launched an investigation. Such reports are voluntary, and it’s not clear whether anyone reported her death to the agency. FDA spokesperson Courtney Rhodes said the agency does not discuss possible or ongoing investigations. The FDA, Fabricant added, has a system in place to investigate deaths that might be linked to a supplement or drug. “It’s casework,” he said. “It’s good, old-fashioned police work that needs to be done.”

Sacramento County spokesperson Kim Nava said via email Wednesday that the law prohibits the coroner’s office from discussing many details of specific cases. As part of any death investigation, the office “attempts to locate and review medical records and speak to family/witnesses to establish events leading up to and surrounding a death,” she said. If any medications or supplements are found at the scene or if pertinent information is in the person’s medical records, those are passed along to the pathologist to help establish cause of death, Nava said. “Any information the office obtains from medical records can’t be disseminated to a third party except by court order,” she said.

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White mulberry (Morus alba) leaves are said to possess various biological activities, including antioxidant, antimicrobial, skin-whitening, cytotoxic, anti-diabetic, glucosidase inhibition, anti-hyperlipidemic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-obesity, cardioprotective, and cognitive enhancement activities. Rich in anthocyanins and alkaloids, mulberry fruits have pharmacological properties, such as antioxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-obesity, and hepatoprotective activities. The root bark of mulberry, containing flavonoids, alkaloids, and stilbenoids, has antimicrobial, skin-whitening, cytotoxic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hyperlipidemic properties. Other pharmacological properties of M. alba include anti-platelet, anxiolytic, anti-asthmatic, anthelmintic, antidepressant, cardioprotective, and immunomodulatory activities.

Clinical trials on the efficiency of Morus alba extracts in reducing blood glucose and cholesterol levels and enhancing cognitive ability have been conducted. Yet the findings are so far not compelling. There is an extensive history of consumption of Morus alba leaves by humans and animals worldwide. The plant is a frequent ingredient in TCM preparations. This might suggest that the leaves and their extracts have a good safety profile. However systematic investigations into the issue seem to be absent. Reports of serious adverse effects in humans are rare. Thus one might ask whether the supplement in question – if it was a supplement at all that the woman took – might have been contaminated with a toxic substance.

While still at Exeter, we had a whole program examining so-called alternative medicines (SCAMs) for weight reduction. I thus can assure you of one thing: there are plenty out there! We also published many papers on the subject. The results can be summarized quite easily:

NONE OF THEM WORK CONVINCINGLY AND MANY ARE OUTRIGHT FRAUDULENT.

So I thought I had seen them all … until I saw this advertisement:

Hourglass S-line Waist Slimming Patch ingredients directly transfers them to your skin which then stimulates your body, kickstarts your metabolism and increases calorific burn. This process tones your skin, busts fat cells giving you a slimmer appearance with radiant looking skin.

Consist of 3 Key Ingredient For Hourglass S-line Waist Slimming Patch:

  1. Ay Tsao
  2. Wormwood
  3. Mint

Ay Tsao is a flowering plant that is mostly cultivated for its root, it decreases inflammation, stimulates digestion, and suppresses your appetite. These properties are effective ways promote weight loss. Experts says that this plant plays a huge role in providing a person with health benefits, determining decongestion and improving blood circulation.

Wormwood is regarded as a useful remedy for liver and gallbladder problems. Wormwood contains strong bitter agents known as absinthin and anabsinthin, which stimulate digestive and gallbladder function. Wormwood is believed to stimulate digestion and relieve spasms in the intestinal tract

Mint play an essential role in losing weight in a healthy way. Mint leaves promote digestion and boost metabolism to help in losing weight. Mint tea is a great refreshing calorie-free beverage to promote weight loss.

This is why Hourglass S-line Waist Slimming Patch is special

  • Effectively prevent forming a waist fat.
  • Accelerate the burning of fat.
  • Maintaining a perfect body continuously.
  • Extracting the essence from pure, safe, and healthy natural plants.
  • Better sleep;
  • Safe for daily use.
  • Relieves gas and bloating.
  • Slim down, and increase your energy levels for a better, healthier life.
  • Made of high-quality material, with good breathability and adhesion.

Natalie’s Hourglass S-line Waist Slimming Patch report

Natalie Having trouble wearing dress because of her weight. She wanted a body that will make a dress look good for her. She gladly found this product online.

Here is the result…

Week 1

“Having a sexy body is always what I wanted. But what I can only do is light exercise. So I decided to use this Hourglass S-line Waist Slimming Patch. In just a week my body felt light. I still have a medium-sized belly but I’ll keep trying. Improvement is important and I see it with this product.”

Week 4

“I’m on day 30 of using this product. I love it. I combined its use with diet and light exercise. This is a good treatment for my muscles because Hourglass S-line Waist Slimming Patch also helps with muscle cramps or pain. I never feel my waist muscles working as well as they do when I’m using this product. I love feeling my body muscles actually moving in there. I literally KNOW this product is working my muscles for me. It’s incredible.”

Week 6

“After a month and a half, the result is great. I am amazed that the product is just as described. It will surely achieve the body that you want!! A must try for everyone, this patch is restrengthening muscles, or to add an extra kick in the gut for your exercise, this is it!”

Natalie Lopez — Toronto, Canada

This Patch saves you tons of money!
Hourglass S-line Waist Slimming Patch all natural ingredients are carefully made to make a huge impact not only to your skin but also saves you tons of money in the long run.

With this product you can avoid expensive sessions, time consuming appointments and you can use this patch at your home that can save transportations fare.

How to Use:

  1. Make sure your waist is dry and clean.
  2. Take 2 pcs patch and tear of the back then stick it to your both side waist.
  3. Remove after 3 – 8 hours a day.

______________________________________

I find it hard to believe that there are people who actually fall for such an advertisement. And the more I think about it, the sadder I feel. There are quite obviously some who believe such nonsense and get ripped off by irresponsible snake-oil salesmen. Not only does the product not work, but some of the ingredients are also potentially toxic.

I hope that my posing this will prevent a few people from wasting their hard-earned money on outright quackery:

None of the claims made in this advertisement is backed by evidence!

Cannabis use is a frequently-discussed subject, not just in the realm of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). In general, SCAM advocates view it as an herbal medicine and recommend it for all sorts of conditions. They also often downplay the risks associated with cannabis use. Yet, these risks might be substantial.

Cannabis potency, defined as the concentration of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has increased internationally, which could increase the risk of adverse health outcomes for cannabis users. The first systematic review of the association of cannabis potency with mental health and addiction was recently published in ‘The Lancet Psychiatry’.

The authors searched Embase, PsycINFO, and MEDLINE (from database inception to Jan 14, 2021). Included studies were observational studies of human participants comparing the association of high-potency cannabis (products with a higher concentration of THC) and low-potency cannabis (products with a lower concentration of THC), as defined by the studies included, with depression, anxiety, psychosis, or cannabis use disorder (CUD).

Of 4171 articles screened, 20 met the eligibility criteria:

  • eight studies focused on psychosis,
  • eight on anxiety,
  • seven on depression,
  • and six on CUD.

Overall, higher potency cannabis, relative to lower potency cannabis, was associated with an increased risk of psychosis and CUD. Evidence varied for depression and anxiety. The association of cannabis potency with CUD and psychosis highlights its relevance in healthcare settings, and for public health guidelines and policies on cannabis sales.

The authors concluded that standardisation of exposure measures and longitudinal designs are needed to strengthen the evidence of this association.

The fact that cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis has long been general knowledge. The notion that the risk increases with increased potency of cannabis seems entirely logical and is further supported by this systematic review. Perhaps it is time to educate the public and make cannabis users more aware of these risks, and perhaps it is time that SCAM proponents negate the harm cannabis can do.

I had totally forgotten this amusing little episode: According to THE GUARDIAN, Jacob Rees-Mogg (JRM) once tweeted that I should be locked up in the Tower of London!

If you are not from the UK, you may not know this Member of Parliament. So, let me explain.

JRM is the MP for North East Somerset and currently the ‘Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency’. His personal net worth is estimated to be well over £100 million. I probably don’t need to add much more about JRM; there is plenty about him on the Internet and on social media, for instance, this little gem:

Some of JRM’s medically relevant voting records are revealing:

  • He voted against raising welfare benefits five times in 2013.
  • He voted against higher benefits over long periods for those unable to work as a result of an illness or disability: 14 votes over 5 years.
  • Between 2012-2016, he voted 52 times to reduce the spending on welfare benefits.
  • He voted to exempt pubs and clubs where food is not served from the smoking ban in October 2010.
  • He voted against a law to make private vehicles smoke-free if a child is present.
  • He voted against allowing terminally ill people to be given assistance in ending their lives.

Wikipedia mentions that Rees-Mogg is against abortion in all circumstances, stating: “life begins at the point of conception. With same-sex marriage, that is something that people are doing for themselves. With abortion, that is what people are doing to the unborn child.” In September 2017, he expressed “a great sadness” on hearing about how online retailers had reduced pricing of emergency contraception. 

In October 2017, it was reported that Somerset Capital Management, of which Rees-Mogg was a partner, had invested £5m in Kalbe Farma, a company that produces and markets misoprostol pills designed to treat stomach ulcers but widely used in illegal abortions in Indonesia. Rees-Mogg defended the investment by arguing that the company in question “obeys Indonesian law so it’s a legitimate investment and there’s no hypocrisy. The law in Indonesia would satisfy the Vatican”. Several days later, it was reported that the same company also held shares in FDC, a company that sold drugs used as part of legal abortions in India. Somerset Capital Management subsequently sold the shares it had held in FDC. Rees-Mogg said: “I am glad to say it’s a stock that we no longer hold. I would not try to defend investing in companies that did things I believe are morally wrong”.

In a nutshell, JRM seems to stand for pretty much everything that I am against. But that is no reason to send me to the Tower of London. So, what exactly was JRM referring to when he wanted me locked up?

The Guardian article explains: At a press conference to mark his retirement [Ernst] agreed with a Daily Mail reporter’s suggestion that the Prince of Wales is a “snake-oil salesman”. In the living room of his house in Suffolk he unpacks the label with the precision on which he prides himself. “He’s a man, he owns a firm that sells this stuff, and I have no qualms at all defending the notion that a tincture of dandelion and artichoke [Duchy Herbals detox remedy] doesn’t do anything to detoxify your body and therefore it is a snake oil.” Far from regretting the choice of words and the controversy it has generated, he appears to relish it.

Looking back at all this bizarre story, I am surprised that JRM did not advocate chopping my head off in the Tower of London. He must have been in a benevolent mood that day!

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