The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) and the National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA) have heavily criticised the findings of a new study that attributes the presence of the alkaloid colchicine1 in pregnant women to the use of the herbal supplement ginkgo. "Let's be absolutely clear; ginkgo does not naturally contain the alkaloid colchicine," said Joseph M. Betz, Ph.D., vice president for scientific and technical affairs at AHPA. "Since colchicine is not a constituent of the plant, its presence in the tested product, if confirmed, would either indicate contamination or adulteration of the product or of the laboratory equipment," added Betz. The study analyzed blood samples from 24 pregnant women and several apparently randomly chosen herbal products. The authors reported significant levels of the potentially toxic colchicine in both the placental blood of five of the 24 women and in a commercially available ginkgo sample. Dr. Phillip Harvey, director of science and quality assurance at NNFA criticised the results unveiled by the scientists, "The high blood levels of colchicine reported are puzzling. If the reported placental levels were accurate, the mothers and the babies would likely have been poisoned. It seems that there is some sort of analytical interference that gave them artificially high levels." Further criticisms came from Dr. Jerry Cott former chief of the psychopharmacology research program at the National Institute of Mental Health. "It is also important to note that the study reported that women who did not take herbal supplements were also found to have detectable levels of colchicine in their placental blood. If ginkgo were the source of the colchicine, one is left to wonder where the 'little colchicine' in the placental blood of non-supplement users came from." AHPA and nnfa.org NNFA have organised an independent analysis of the top selling ginkgo finished products and the analyses will be completed next week. Where does the truth lie for the consumer? Time will tell.