The herb germander is a dramatic counterexample to the widely held belief that if a treatment has been used for thousands of years, it must be safe. Germander grows wild in the Mediterranean region, especially in Greece and Syria. It has a long tradition of use for
, as well as febrile illnesses,
congestive heart failure
. It was also said to improve digestion and increase appetite. What traditional herbalists appear to have missed is that germander is toxic to the liver.
In the 1980s, germander became a popular treatment for weight control in France. A small epidemic of hepatitis was the result.
Subsequent research demonstrated conclusively that the herb is toxic to the liver but has not precisely identified the constituents at fault.
Problems have also occurred when products labeled as containing
have turned out to contain germander instead.
Germander was subsequently banned in France and many other countries. Unfortunately, numerous websites continue to promote the use of this herb. We recommend avoiding germander entirely.