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GPs warned over Chinese medicine

By Nigel Praities

Medicolegal advisers have issued a strong warning about the safety of Chinese medicines, advising GPs to inform patients of the potential dangers of these therapies.

The medicines regulator warned earlier this year that a number of Chinese medicine slimming aids contained ‘banned or toxic herbal ingredients' that could result in serious complications, such as thyroid damage or high blood pressure.

These serious concerns have prompted a warning from medico-legal advisers at the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland, who say traditional Chinese medicines are ‘not well regulated' and GPs should delay recommending them to patients until there is enough evidence to confirm the claims made about them.

The statement from Dr Yueyue Fitzgerald, a professional service team member at the MDDUS, and Dr Riaz Mohammed, medicolegal adviser at the MDDUS, said although traditional Chinese medicine had become very popular in the UK, GPs had a duty to provide evidence-based advice in this area.

‘Given that traditional Chinese medicine neither derives from any coherent or established body of evidence nor is it subjected to rigorous assessment to establish its value, doctors should consider carefully what to tell patients about the potential dangers of using alternative Chinese medicine,' they recommended.

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