Sat, Dec 08, 2018 - Page 8 News List

[ LETTERS ]

Ian Easton’s article

Ian Easton’s opinion piece on why China is arming to the teeth was most incisive (“On Taiwan: Why is Beijing arming to the teeth?” Dec. 3, page 8). He detailed what steps the US and Taiwan need to take to counter the Chinese threat to freedom, peace and stability in the region. He had no illusions as to the Chinese Communist Party’s aggressive intentions regarding Taiwan and the region.

I agree that defense cooperation between Taiwan and the US needs to be heightened, as it is true to say that Taiwan is the frontline of democracy and freedom in East Asia, a reality not recognized by some, even in the US.

Given the importance of Taiwan, it is unfortunate that other democracies, especially the US, have not had the intestinal fortitude to accord Taiwan full diplomatic recognition, preferring instead to play the “one China” game with Beijing. This position flies in the face of reality and principle, and goes to the credit of nobody.

If the US was to be totally candid in its relationship with Taiwan, it should immediately make it clear to the world at large that it recognizes the government in Taipei as the government of Taiwan. Anything else is subservience to Beijing.

Gavan Duffy

Queensland, Australia

Unprescribed herbs

I read the Taipei Times article about the dangers of unprescribed herbs (“Doctors caution against taking unprescribed herbs,” Nov. 22, page 4). I agree that such herbs can pose a great danger to human life and health. They can clash with prescribed medicines, as well as over-the-counter nutritional supplements that do not require a prescription or even some foods.

I found the article very informative in that it noted that aconite, or wolfsbane, is highly toxic. I believe that some apothecaries can be good and offer good remedies for minor ailments. However, anyone having serious or chronic health problems would be wise to consult a licensed medical doctor.

It was amazing to read the article whereby a woman initially felt better after taking one dose of herbs from an apothecary, yet after taking a second dose, experienced atrial arrhythmia with heart palpitations.

She was lucky to have been taken to a hospital and stabilized, which saved her life.

That news item reminded me of the noted Rosicrucian and alchemist Basil Valentine, who was also canon of the Benedictine Priory of St Peter in Erfurt, Germany.

He experimented with the element antimony. Some people believe that stibium and antimony are the same. He discovered that antimony would fatten pigs to make them larger, thus providing more meat for human consumption.

However, when Basil Valentine fed antimony to his local monks, most of them died of poisoning. Therefore, in one respect, the compound antimony was beneficial; while in another context, it was detrimental — even deadly.

Valentine had immense knowledge of such things as ammonia and he created Oil of Vitriol, which is another name for sulfuric acid —which must be handled with care. It can be used in a wide range of applications, from fertilizers to an electrolyte in lead-acid batteries and in cleaning agents.

All of this illustrates that all humans need to be wise and prudent in ingesting any home remedy. Many plants, minerals, herbs and liquid concoctions might have good therapeutic value, yet some can have harmful effects. It is a fine balance.

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