A University of Adelaide forensic pathologist has sounded a worldwide warning of the potential lethal dangers of herbal medicines if taken in large quantities, injected, or combined with prescription drugs.
A paper by Professor Roger Byard published in the US-based Journal of Forensic Sciences outlines the highly toxic nature of many herbal substances, which a large percentage of users around the world mistakenly believe are safe.
"There's a false perception that herbal remedies are safer than manufactured medicines, when in fact many contain potentially lethal concentrations of arsenic, mercury and lead," Professor Byard says. These substances may cause serious illnesses, exacerbate pre-existing health problems or result in death, particularly if taken in excess or injected rather than ingested."
Professor Byard says there can also be fatal consequences when some herbal medicines interact with prescription drugs.