- Mountain Bandits
The growing popularity of herbal remedies here in North America is a mixed blessing.
On the one hand, millions of people are learning new ways of treating sickness and staying healthy. On the other hand, the natural health hucksters are becoming as thick as flies both in the U.S. and China. Many herbal "remedies" have little or no value.
Are all Chinese herbs of equal quality? Perhaps 30 years ago, but no longer. Today, China is like the wild west of capitalism: A lot of people will do anything to get rich. You see this on the streets of any city. Fake 'Rolex' watches are sold for a fraction of the price of the genuine article. It's the same with counterfeit videotapes, software, cameras, designer clothing -- and herbs.
The growing popularity of Chinese herbal remedies worldwide has spawned an increasing number of sleazy manufacturers. These shan zai chang, or 'mountain bandits,' churn out pills of little quality and safety, capitalizing on the reputation of Chinese herbal medicine. (Despite their name, 'mountain bandits' operate in cities.)
These small counterfeit factories are filthy and unlicensed, never inspected by the authorities, copy the packaging of some other company's product, and turn out inferior herbal products.
It has been estimated that over 50% of all medicines sold in Chinese herb shops in the U.S. are counterfeit. Even more insidious, bulk shipments of bad herbs are coming into this country in growing quantities. Local U.S. packaging companies buy this low-priced junk from China and elsewhere, never bothering to have it tested. They then produce pills and extracts, and package them under various brand names.
This is unfortunate. Independent tests of unlicensed products have detected extremely high heavy-metal content (lead, mercury, and arsenic) which never appear in reputable products. Most inferior herbs also contain fillers such as cornstarch, illegal pharmaceutical drugs and synthetic colors. These ingredients are rarely listed on the packaging.
It's a big problem. Even when they use a certain herb, most people will likely tell themselves they're feeling better. But too often it's the power of suggestion, and they never experienced "the real thing."
It's essential to know your sources... know their background. The Healing Herbs Of China© obtains its products from the most reputable sources in the People's Republic of China, most of them under the most trusted names in herbalism -- the Plum Flower and Blue Light brands.