Skeptic News: TCM Secret Ingredient

Health authorities in Singapore have warned the public not to take four traditional Chinese “health products” after discovering they are adulterated with other substances.

Singapores Health Sciences Authority says the following products Athri-Eze, Sear Heang Tienchi Tu Chung Wan, Cap Wijaya Kusuma (An Ki It) and Wiku Jahe Kencur (Akur Mujarab) contain undeclared Western medicines which may cause serious side effects in those consuming the products. The alert was raised by Doctors after they treated patients who had self medicated. In one case a 70-year-old patient was hospitalised suffering dizziness and low blood pressure  the likely cause is said to be the withdrawal of prednisolone taken unwittingly in one of the adulterated medicines.

The secret ingredients in each of the above medicines are given below:

  • Athri-Eze which is promoted as a traditional Chinese medicine and packaged in a bottle of 20 white capsules for the relief of backache, joint and muscular pain, contains three undeclared medicinal ingredients – dexamethasone, frusemide and paracetamol.
  • Claiming to treat rheumatic pain and backaches, Sear Heang Tienchi Tu Chung Wan that’s sold in a bottle of 40 black pills with a red label, contains chlorpheniramine and dexamethasone. It resulted in symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome such as a bloated face in a 70 year old who had consumed it over a year for arthritic pain.
  • Promoted as Malay Jamu medicine, Cap Wijaya Kusuma (An Ki It) and Wiku Jahe Kencur (Akur Mujarab) are packed in foiled sachets of either red or green, labelled to treat rheumatoid and arthritic conditions, swollen legs and stiff joints.
  • The brown powder products were found to contain phenylbutazone and paracetamol in the case of Cap Wijaya Kusuma (An Ki It), while Wiku Jahe Kencur (Akur Mujarab) had allopurinol, prednisolone and chlorpeniramine.

The medicines used in the four traditional medicines should only be taken under strict medical supervision. The HSA reminded the public that traditional medicines are not allowed to contain medicinal ingredients or substances controlled under the Poisons Act.

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