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Illegal Herbal Medicines Can Be Fatal

There are a number of smuggled drugs bearing ‘100% herbal’ labels while they are in fact a mix of chemical substances that can be dangerous.There are a number of smuggled drugs bearing ‘100% herbal’ labels while they are in fact a mix of chemical substances that can be dangerous.

Iran’s Legal Medicine Organization has registered 732 cases of death caused by medicine abuse in the last Iranian year that ended in March, including deaths due to poisoning by herbal drugs, deemed by many as harmless.

Speaking at a press conference about the effects of illegal herbal medicines, Mohammad Reza Qadirzadeh, head of Addiction Studies Department of the Legal Medicine Research Center stressed that the figure does not include mortality by narcotic abuse, which is a different branch of study, ISNA reported.

Maryam Akhgari, head of the LMRC laboratory, said the rates of poisoning by medications that are promoted as libido boosters as well as weight loss or weight gain, are alarming.  

Many of these are advertised as herbal drugs to create the impression that they are from natural plant sources and have no side effects, while their unmonitored use can be as hazardous as chemical medicines.

“Besides, there are a number of smuggled drugs bearing ‘100% herbal’ labels while they are in fact a mix of chemical substances that can be dangerous and even life-threatening,” she said.

Pejman Alavinejad, gastroenterologist, who was also present, pointed to the adverse effects of the so-called herbal drugs on the digestive system, particularly the liver.  

“The components of such drugs are metabolized in the liver and the accumulation of the metabolized substances cause serious digestive conditions over time,” he said.

Many people resort to herbal medication thinking it’s an easy and quick weight loss regimen, but Alavinejad warned that the chemical materials in certain plants which reduce the appetite and eventually lead to weight loss are not harmless as advertized by illegal companies.

“There have been cases of lung and kidney disorders, pulmonary fibrosis, and severe liver conditions as a result of using herbal weight loss drugs,” he noted.

Persistence use of these substances can even lead to total organ failure. Although the patient can survive by organ transplant, it is not an easy process and many lose their lives waiting for a donation. Moreover, the patient will not have a normal life following a successful surgery and will have to remain on medication forever, he warned.

Alavinejad called on the public to avoid unsystematic use of herbal medicines prescribed by non-professionals or recommended by non-qualified people.

“If you are interested in herbal remedies, refer to reliable experts,” he advised.

Financialtribune.com