CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Conventional medicine vs. Herbal medicine in Lebanon

The Lebanon Star reports on a raging battle between conventional medicine and "herbal upstarts."

In "War of the remedies: Mainstream medicine takes on herbal upstarts," the Lebanese news source describes uproar over "proliferation of television shows promoting herbal medicine products." Many wild claims are reportedly being made, and pressure is being put on the government to help curb irresponsible health claims related to dietary supplements and herbal remedies.

According to the article, the government responds:

Resigned Health Minister Mohammad Khalifeh denied that he or the ministry bore any responsibility for problems stemming from herbal medicine.

"It is solely the responsibility of media outlets that allow for such shows to be broadcast on a daily basis, thus bringing harm to public health," he told The Daily Star, adding that the Lebanese, too, are to be blamed "because they believe everything they are told."

"The ministry cannot protect the stupid," he said.

The piece also cites a position between those calling for regulation, and those comfortable with a more free-for-all herbal market:

As a medical doctor who practices phytotherapy - an alternative technique scorned by many practitioners of contemporary medicine - Maram Hakim, who also holds an MA in clinical psychology, comes down in the middle of the debate. There is a need, he he said, to resist the claims of "extremists" at both ends of the domain.

"Neither traditional medicine nor modern medicine represent the ultimate type of medicine," he told The Daily Star. "There is currently a worldwide trend shifting toward integrative medicine which combines both types and ensures better outcomes." Hakim explained that some herbal remedies have the potential to cause unfavorable interactions when used in combination with various prescription drugs.

The problem of adverse herb-drug reactions plagues all markets, including the dietary supplement in the U.S., although, the article highlights, there is in Lebanon now a particular call for a "well-defined health policy."

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Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies, representing medical doctors, allied health professionals and other clinicians, entrepreneurs, and institutions.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploring legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, and herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion, which follows Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen is licensed has been admitted to the Bar of California, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington D.C., and to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing).
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