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    Traditional Chinese medicine is commonly used locally, not only for disease treatment but also for improving health. Many people prepare soups containing herbs or herbal decoctions according to recipes and general herbal formulae commonly available in books, magazines, and newspapers without consulting Chinese medicine practitioners. However, such practice can be dangerous. We report five cases of poisoning from 2007 to 2012 occurring as a result of inappropriate use of herbs in recipes or general herbal formulae acquired from books. Aconite poisoning due to overdose or inadequate processing accounted for three cases. The other two cases involved the use of herbs containing Strychnos alkaloids and Sophora alkaloids. These cases demonstrated that inappropriate use of Chinese medicine can result in major morbidity, and herbal formulae and recipes containing herbs available in general publications are not always safe.


    Y K Chong, C K Ching, S W Ng, M L Tse, Tony W L Mak. Recipes and general herbal formulae in books: causes of herbal poisoning. Hong Kong medical journal = Xianggang yi xue za zhi / Hong Kong Academy of Medicine. 2014 Aug;20(4):343-6

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    PMID: 25104008

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