Traditional Medicines – Safe or a Menace

Recently there was an article in the newspapers regarding the safety of traditional medicines. Before I carry on I would like to stress that any traditional medicines if prescribed by a qualified traditional or complementary practitioner is always safe for use. The problem comes when someone buys from an unreliable source that can lead to issues. I will just highlight three of my own recent experiences with patients who had problem with traditional medication.

The first patient was a 53 year old businessman Mr. T who was admitted with acute renal failure with severe acidosis. He was very breathless and referring hospital thought it was a lung problem.  On arrival at the emergency he had to be ventilated and put on a breathing machine. Apart from a mild diabetes he had no other medical problem. His symptoms had all occurred over a few days. Initially we were puzzled as to what caused such an acute problem. Luckily Mr. T responded to our treatment and when we were able to take him of the machine he told us that he had consumed a health tonic that he had ordered online from someone. He had been taking it for about two weeks. Most probably it contained some heavy metals or toxins. He recovered fully and was discharged well.

The second was a 33 year old Chinese engineer. Came with severe weakness and fever. He had a very low potassium level and had very high thyroid levels. He basically was in thyroid crisis with severe hypokalemia which led to irregular heartbeats. Again needed to be managed in intensive care. He had consumed a vitamin supplement recommended by a friend for energy. No other cause was found for his disease and again the supplement might have some toxin that caused this.

Third was an eighty year old lady admitted with severe sepsis and high blood sugar? Noted she also had a moon face and other features of steroid use. She was on a traditional medicine bought from a street peddler for her joint pain. A lot of unregistered products have steroids in them as they have very good pain relieving properties but in the long term can cause hypertension, diabetes and reduce your immune system that can lead to serious infections.

It is very difficult to check for any toxins in this products unless you know exactly what to test for. Also the tests are expensive to do. So the best advice is always use any traditional medicine or supplement from registered practitioners and pharmacies and products that are registered.

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