21 Aug 2008

Man admitted to hospital after taking toxic Chinese medicine

6:15 pm on 21 August 2008

There are fears Chinese medicines with toxic and potentially fatal amounts of lead are being brought into and sold in New Zealand.

The Auckland Regional Public Health service says a man was taken to Middlemore Hospital after taking a powdered Chinese medicine to treat his ulcers.

The man's symptoms were dizziness, stomach pain, constipation and insomnia.

It was found he had a blood lead level more than 12 times the notifiable level for non-occupational sources of lead exposure.

The service's Dr Denise Barnfather says it's lucky the man is still alive.

The Auckland Regional Health Service says a man working as a Chinese medical practitioner had given the man powdered chinese medicine, which consisted of 46 to 74% lead.

It says this is the first case of lead poisoning due to Chinese medicine the service has been notified of, and it's concerned such medicines are being sold to an unsuspecting public.