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Editorial Issue 90

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 90 - July 2003

In over nine years of publishing Positive Health, I had never before been telephoned directly by the Medicines and Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA), previously called the Medicines Control Agency (MCA). Not until yesterday, that is.

But, despite my constant ranting and Positive Health's ongoing publication of correspondence and information regarding the restriction to our freedom by the EU Directives, my telephone conversation, loss of temper and row that I had with a very polite gentleman brought home sharply the absurdities of the way the laws regarding unlicensed nutritional and herbal supplements are currently applied toward the intelligent public seeking to improve their health.

The call concerned a complaint lodged about an article published on our internet site regarding a herbal product for skin complaints, authored by a herbalist who also sold this particular remedy. The issue was not about the article, but that the contact details of the herbalist were provided, so that individuals interested in further information or in purchasing the product could link directly to the author's website provided.

For those of you already steeped in the kafkaesque regulations regarding unlicensed products, I hope not to bore you to revisit the fact that unless a product has a medicinal product license, claims of therapeutic efficacy are not permitted in adverts. Hence, in the eyes of the MHRA, linking the author (who sells the product) to the article (which is perfectly legitimate scholarly information) constitutes an advertisement for the product.

So, according to the MHRA, in a printed magazine such as Positive Health, if you read a scholarly article about, say St John's Wort by an individual and if you then peruse any advertisements appearing outside the article for St John's Wort and decide to purchase the herb, the two processes are not linked. You would have to pick up the telephone, or go onto an internet site to make the purchase.

However, on the internet, if you read the same article, and there is a hyperlink to a site with products for sale, the article is considered to be linked to the advert and, hence, against the law.

Crazy? You bet! So, a Professional Body made a complaint because people wishing further information or indeed to purchase this herbal remedy could click through to an internet site directly from the article written by this herbalist. I thought that the whole idea of providing authoritative, clinically and scientifically referenced information to individuals is to increase their knowledge and enable them to make more informed choices about the products they wish to purchase. What a naïve simpleton am I!

Naturally, this palaver about linking is only the tip of the iceberg regarding other issues regarding herbal products, including: if the product is used for treating or preventing disease in humans or animals it is classed as a 'medicinal product'; if a substance modifies physiological function in humans, it is classed as a 'medicinal product; and most obscenely, it is an offence under the Cancer Act 1939 to advertise products which can treat or cure cancer.

So, to satisfy this convoluted logic about protecting consumers, we had to remove the internet details of this herbalist and provide merely a personal email address. It is a sad, sad day when freedom of information is dictated by the interests of the medical and pharmaceutical establishments.

Two other very sad events which will diminish the fight for Nutritional Medicine are the recent deaths of two giants in the field: Dr Robert Atkins MD and Dr David Horrobin PhD. Both of these pioneering individuals have contributed much to our knowledge and understanding of Nutritional Medicine. Although Dr Atkins is famous for his so-called low-carb diet books, clinically, he has accomplished a great deal in the field of Nutritional Medicine. I reviewed one of his more recent books Dr Atkins Vita-Nutrient Solution: Nature's Answer to Drugs which appears on our website books/nutrition.

If you haven't already got a copy, it is a very authoritative reference about a myriad of nutritional substances. A short obituary appears on

Dr David Horrobin, doctor, scientist and entrepreneur was a man of rare talent. Probably his most important work was on fatty acids, particularly evening primrose oil. He established and edited Medical Hypotheses; his recent book The Madness of Adam and Eve is reviewed on our website in the books/mind body section.

A brief obituary of his life and work appears on,,60-639274,00.html

Finally, for those of you interested in a highly informed treatise about childhood vaccinations, I urge you to read Dr Yubraj Sharma's article Vaccination – Controversy, Safety and Side Effects on page 30 of this issue.


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About Sandra Goodman PhD

Sandra Goodman PhD, Co-founder and Editor of Positive Health, trained as a Molecular Biology scientist in Agricultural Biotechnology in Canada and the US, focusing upon health issues since the 1980s in the UK. Author of 4 books, including Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art, Vitamin C – The Master Nutrient, Germanium: The Health and Life Enhancer and numerous articles, Dr Goodman was the lead author of the Consensus Document Nutritional and LifeStyle Guidelines for People with Cancer and compiled the Cancer and Nutrition Database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in 1993. Dr Goodman is passionate about making available to all people, particularly those with cancer, clinical expertise in Nutrition and Complementary Therapies. Dr Goodman was recently featured as Doctor of the Fortnight in ThinkWellness360.

Dr Goodman and long-term partner Mike Howell seek individuals with vision, resources, and organization to continue and expand the Positive Health PH Online legacy beyond the first 30 years, with facilities for training, to fund alternative cancer research, and promote holistic organizations internationally. Read about Dr Goodman and purchase Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.  She may be contacted privately for Research, Lectures and Editorial services via:   and

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