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Doctors warn about dangers of illegal TCM herbal sales

By Cai Wenjun (Shanghai Daily)

10:36, October 30, 2012

SHANGHAI Food and Drug Administration officials said yesterday that they will tighten inspections on illegal sales of gaofang, a Chinese herbal recipe to reinforce energy in winter, after some online stores were found selling do-it-yourself herbs.

Doctors warned people not to buy so-called gaofang from online stores as they have had some patients suffering adverse reactions after eating the herbal mixture that they purchased online.

"Some patients complained about dizziness, stomach pain or even numbness on parts of the body after taking gaofang they bought online," said Dr Wang Fengqi from Shanghai Hongkang Hospital's TCM department.

The herbal mixture needs to be made in accordance with an individual's physical condition and should only be taken if prescribed by a TCM doctor.

An online search for gaofang produces a long list of stores on Taobao.com. Most don't have a license to sell TCM medicines. Taobao officials said they will investigate the issue.

According to TCM experts, gaofang is a condensed tonic of herbs and animal ingredients in a paste that reinforces energy.

The Shanghai Traditional Chinese Medicine Association said gaofang sales peaked one month earlier this year as more young and middle-aged people wanted it to treat their sub-health.

Young people expect gaofang to help with weight loss and boost their immune system, doctors said.

Officials from Shanghai Longhua TCM hospital said gaofang prescriptions have increased 25 percent from last year since it launched a specialized clinic for the herbal remedy and it became popular among office workers with high work pressure and an unhealthy lifestyle.

"More office workers come to hospitals for gaofang to deal with their sleeping problems, fatigue and poor appetite," said Chen Ronghuan, a Longhua hospital spokesperson. "Many had very good results with gaofang last year and have come back again."

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