Are natural remedies safe? Think twice before using them, warns Chinese report

If you think like other Indians that natural remedies are free from side effects and cannot jeopardise our health then it’s time to rethink again.  A new Chinese study has warned that natural remedies can deteriorate health instead of curing especially in case of heart disease. Thus, we should consult with health experts or at least give a second thought before consuming any natural medicines.

Chinese study was based on a 45-year-old women who presented with aconitine-induced cardiovascular symptoms. The woman was diagnosed with the bidirectional ventricular tachycardia (BVT), a severe heart-rhythm disorder in which heart beats over 100 beats per minute constantly.

According to patient’s husband, she consumed some medicinal liquid (50 millilitres) and within 30 minutes her blood pressure dropped severely, soon after she lost consciousness. Her husband rushed to the hospitals where doctors recorded her heart rate at over 150 beats per minute and her blood pressure was 50/30. He further added that this was the first time she suffered such problem and she was never diagnosed with heart-rhythm problems in the past.

In the blood test, doctors found the presence of aconitine, a substance produced by the Aconitum plant, also known as devil’s helmet or monkshood. Although well-known for its highly toxic properties, aconitine is the primary ingredient of the traditional Chinese medicine known as Fuzi, a remedy made from the processed lateral roots of Aconitum carmichaeli Debx. It is widely distributed in the southwest provinces of China and is used in small doses for its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.

Lead study author Zhong Yi, MD, PhD, of the Aerospace Center Hospital in Beijing said that in the past he had given amiodarone to suppress the BVT but in this case, it was ineffective against aconitine, also lidocaine didn’t have any effect in controlling the increased heart beats. Yi warned public of risk associated with the use traditional medicines like Fuzi.

The report quickly grabbed the eyes of health experts and  P. Timothy Pollak, MD, PhD, FRCPC, of the Department of Medicine at the University of Calgary, Alberta, said that although Mother Nature protects us but not all products are good for us and some are lethal to our health. In such cases, Pollak advised people to consult with their doctors and try to find alternative remedies.

The report appeared in the journal Cardiology.

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