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 gout , as well as febrile illnesses, asthma , coughs, depression , and 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 labelled as containing skullcap 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.