A herbal medicine used by alternative practitioners to treat migraines could be fatal. Zheng Tian Wan is unregulated but is available in the UK, and it has been linked to serious health complications and death, health authorities say.
The plant remedy contains aconite – a herb once dubbed the ‘Queen of Poisons’ by the ancient Greeks - and could be toxic for the heart and nervous system. The ingredient is on a UK list of restricted herbal ingredients and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have issued a statement warning against using the product.
The MHRA said the issue came to their attention after a herbal practitioner supplied a patient the unlicensed migraine pills, which have not been tested for safety and quality. The agency said it has previously received three reports of suspected side effects to aconite.
One patient suffered kidney problems, a second was hospitalised after suffering dizziness and paraesthesia (pins and needles) and the third experienced palpitations, aches and pains with shortness of breath but recovered after stopping taking the product.
Andrea Farmer, Herbal policy manager at the MHRA, said in certain circumstances herbal medicines could be extremely dangerous: ‘Herbal medicines can have a very significant effect on the body.'