You probably know that I'm a big fan of Chinese medicine. The principles taught in Chinese medicine and many products from China have helped millions of people recover from numerous illnesses. So it breaks my heart to see the recent report on toxic materials coming from China. These toxins are finding there way into medicines and pet food.

I'm sure you heard about the recent pet food poisonings. Pets fell ill and some died because of melamine in their food. The source was China. But American pets weren't the only ones hit. Did you know that hundreds of people from Panama to Bangladesh died from poisoned products? Unscrupulous Chinese dealers substituted the sweet poison ethylene glycol for more expensive glycerin in products ranging from toothpaste to cough syrup. You know ethylene glycol a bit better as antifreeze. It turns to highly toxic oxalic acid in your body, which poisons your kidneys.

The New York Times did a wonderful job tracing the source of Panama's tragedy halfway around the world. The source was a place in China on the Yangtze River called "chemical country." Years ago, a Chinese patented medicine appeared from this area called PC-Spes. It supposedly was a miracle cure for prostate cancer. It did lower PSA - and quickly.

However, men quickly developed enlarged breasts. The miracle ingredient turned out to be the synthetic estrogen DES. And I know of several other cases of Chinese herbs tainted with lead or other heavy metals.

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When these reports first came out, I thought they might be an isolated incidence. But the reports keep coming. And now, years later, I have a lot of firsthand experience working with the Chinese. I have a close relative who lives in China and is fluent in Mandarin. He told me things that give me serious concern about any Chinese products.

He told me the country is polluting the environment beyond our comprehension. I was in Beijing with him several years ago. We didn't see blue sky through the grey haze at all. He says that it's only gotten worse. Many companies use lead and other toxic metals without controls or protection for their employees. My relative also said that toxic disease is rampant throughout the rapidly industrializing country. A new coal-fired plant is opening about every 10 days. Aside from the carbon dioxide emissions, coal power plants are a great contributor to mercury in the atmosphere.

All of this can affect the purity of any crop - and thus any herb or other nutrient -from China. Yet despite the fraud and lack of quality controls, many products from China are perfectly safe to take. But you must proceed with caution.

First, find out if the products you're taking come from China. You would be surprised how many do. If they do, ask the company what kinds of tests they perform on the raw material they receive.

For example, every ingredient used in Healthy Resolve's products passes through a rigorous screening process. Each batch of raw material is assayed for potency to make sure it contains the stated amount of active ingredient. Next it's screened for a variety of toxins including arsenic, lead, mercury, and other metals. Finally it's tested for the presence of yeast, molds, and bacteria, such as salmonella and coliforms.

If you're not sure if the products you are taking are safe, ask for an independent certificate of analysis or purity from the provider or distributors.

I've made sure Healthy Resolve does just that. And I've successfully done that with other Chinese medicines I've used.

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