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FDA Plantain Scare
Leaves NSP Smelling Sweet

  Tests reveal no foxglove contamination

In June 1997, the Food and Drug Administration issued an announcement stating that plantain-containing products may be contaminated with a species of Grecian foxglove (Digitalis lanata).

Nature's Sunshine manufactures six products that use plantain herb or plantain root: BON-C, Black Ointment, Herbal CA, GlanDiet, Supplement Type T, IN-X and UC3-J.

Naturally, this announcement created a stir in the herbal industry.

After the announcement, NSP Customer Service fielded many calls from curious Managers and Distributors who wondered if our plantain-containing products were safe.

NSP's R&D team swung into action. Doug Stevenson, NSP Senior Research Scientist, spoke with Dr. Joseph M. Betz, Research Chemist at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA, and asked him for information regarding the analysis of Grecian foxglove. Dr. Betz gave him the necessary methods to test our plantain material and indicated that he would send a certified sample of plantain. He also suggested that NSP obtain a source of authentic foxglove for comparison during the forthcoming analysis.

Doug searched the World Wide Web and found that two counties in Kansas had been inundated with Grecian foxglove.

Grecian foxglove is used in medications for congestive heart failure because of its ability to increase systolic contractions. It contains compounds that act as stimulants and diuretics. Overuse can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, vision disturbances, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, confusion, hallucinations, convulsions and loss of appetite. Obviously, NSP doesn't want its products to cause these side-effects.
contacting the office of Dr. Stephan White at the Kansas Department of Agriculture, author of the web page, Doug received an overnight shipment of fresh, Kansas-grown Grecian foxglove plants. He also ordered the chemicals necessary to perform the analysis.

As soon as the chemicals were acquired and the plantain sample from the FDA arrived, the Grecian foxglove, certified plantain sample and NSP retainer lots of plantain from 1994-1997 were all analyzed. All of the NSP lots and the FDA plantain sample tested negative for the presence of Grecian foxglove.

Within about seven working days from the time of the announcement, NSP was able to confirm that our plantain-containing products were indeed free from Grecian foxglove, and that there was no need to worry.

Interestingly, a total of approximately 6,000 pounds of contaminated plantain was discovered throughout the U.S. and was recalled by the FDA.

Before this incident, plantain was not normally tested for foxglove contamination. However, since that time the analysis for Grecian foxglove normal testing procedure for plantain.   Have a Healthy and Happy Day...........:)


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REF:  Sunshine HORIZONS Manager Edition Vol. 23 No. 2  February 1998 Page 6.