The UK government has launched a new information service warning about the potential dangers of certain remedies, reports Health-Newswire.com.
Showing evidence of the increasing recognition for alternative medicines, the government hopes the service will make it safer for people to use herbal medicines.
Run by the Medicines Control Agency (MCA), Herbal Safety News is an online service providing up-to-date information on herbal remedies.
The website will give details of potentially dangerous combinations, such as those caused by using St John's Wort and prescription medicines at the same time. It will also outline concerns raised over particular ingredients, such as kava kava, which has been linked with liver toxicity.
The website will also publish quality control alerts and warnings about remedies contaminated with heavy metals or prescription-only medicines, said the report.
The MCA recently uncovered four examples of the toxic ingredient aristolochia - a known carcinogen - in herbal therapies taken from three traditional Chinese medicine outlets in the UK.
The agency said it hopes the new service will make people aware that herbal remedies are "genuine medicines" that have an effect on the body, and should therefore be manufactured to high standards and used with care.
Professor Alasdair Breckenridge, chair of the Committee on Safety of Medicines and an independent government advisor, said : "While we cannot assure the public as to the safety of some unlicensed herbal remedies available on the market, this new service will give people the chance to obtain information themselves."