OXFORD, Miss. – A working group constituted by the World Health Organization’s Traditional and Complementary Medicines Program gathered recently at the University of Mississippi to develop another in the series of WHO guidance documents on the utilization of traditional and herbal medicines.
The increased use of herbal medicines and botanical supplements around the world raises concerns about their interactions with conventional prescription medicines. The goal of the July 12-14 meeting was to frame these issues and draft globally relevant guidelines on herb and drug interactions for health care professionals and regulatory or compliance organizations.
The university’s National Center for Natural Products Research served as local hosts for the three-day meeting, which included 35 representatives from around the world. Dr. Zhang Qi, coordinator of the WHO’s Traditional and Complementary Medicine Program, led the group.
“We are grateful to the University of Mississippi for their hospitality in providing this venue for our meeting, and for facilitating the meeting organization on the ground,” Zhang said. “This allowed us to spend three productive days focusing on these important guidelines.”
The National Center for Natural Products Research has a long-standing research program focused on the authenticity, quality and safety of botanical supplements in this country. The program is led by Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR associate director, and supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a Center of Excellence.
Several scientists from NCNPR also participated in the meeting as working group members or invited observers.
“We were very pleased to host such a distinguished group from WHO, with other scientists, health policymakers and regulators, and to participate in these deliberations,” said Larry Walker, NCNPR director and a UM professor of pharmacology.