The UK's most eminent expert in complementary medicine says high street herbal remedies are either useless or dangerous, while a study suggests the "tailored" preparations concocted by herbal practitioners are a waste of money. But are we really wrong to have fallen in love with the humble herb?
It is said we've never had it so good: living longer thanks to the leaps and bounds made by medical science.
And how do we express our thanks? According to the critics, by turning our backs on the mainstream and dabbling in the occult - or at the very least the unproven: spending millions of pounds each year on herbal formulas for conditions ranging from an itchy patch of skin to terminal disease.
"I used to say if it made my patients feel better then it was ok by me," says Professor Michael Baum, a professor emeritus of surgery.
"But increasingly I feel one has to speak out against it - because there's no knowing where this hocus pocus will end up."
Really that bad?
As far as Professor Baum is concerned, if a treatment is subjected to scientific rigours and found to be efficacious then it should be integrated into mainstream medicine and put in the hands of doctors - at which point the label "alternative" ceases to apply.
And there are indeed herbs which have passed these tests - although only about a dozen of the many hundreds on offer.
Source - BBC