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A blog about science, medicine, media and the ramblings of Irish hack....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oh the bitter Herbs......

 My 2c on the EU directive for herbal medicine. Thanks to Prof. William Reville of the Irish Times / UCC for casting his expert eye over this...


The European Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products has of late provoked the ire of advocates and practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). From the impassioned furore, one might be forgiven for thinking that the directive is a sudden new and draconian imposition. But the directive has in fact been in force for 7 years, brought in after a number of deaths and accidents involving herbal medications. It is hardly draconian either - instead of demanding proof of efficacy through independent clinical trials as with any other medical product, the legislation simply asks those wishing to supply a herbal product to provide anecdotal documentation it doesn't harm and has a track record of at least 15 years usage. The deadline for registration of existing products has just past, and this is being presented as an attack on herbal practitioners. A vocal number of herbal advocates have claimed this legislation is a ploy by big pharmacy to drive them out of business but this entirely predictable claim is a straw man argument - the issue here is regulation, pure and simple.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Somehow I don't think...

...that this product can live up to the lofty claims it makes on the advertising front.


CURSE YOU MICKEY MOUSE ! I'm BLIND!

25 years of Chernobyl - A retrospective

This was a little piece I wrote on the anniversary of Chernobyl this year. It was lined up to be an op-ed piece in an Irish weekend newspaper but news of Royal weddings got in the way. So I present it here for your reading pleasure after the fact...


25 years ago in the sleepy Soviet controlled village of Pripyat, Ukraine, an event occurred that branded a word onto the world's collective conscience. In the early hours of the morning, the plant was rocked by an explosion, resulting in nuclear waste products being strewn over a wide area. Since then, Chernobyl has become a word that conjures up fear, loathing and invokes a wide range of impassioned reactions. Discussion on the issue is overrun with fearful rhetoric, and the very name tends to galvanise people. Any time the subject of nuclear power comes up, opponents tend to cite Chernobyl as some kind of proof that it is inherently flawed and more dangerous than other forms of power generation. Whispers about detrimental health and environmental effects terrify people to the point that rational discussion about the events and aftermath of Chernobyl and indeed nuclear power are difficult and emotive. This was entirely understandable; an event like Chernobyl had never occurred before so assuming the worst was understandable - there was simply a shortage of information on how things would transpire. But now, a quarter of a century later, with the benefit of hindsight and over two decades of intense scientific research, it is time to reexamine the disaster and its consequences in light of what we now know.


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