Fatally toxic ingredients in off the shelf Chinese medications

Fatally toxic ingredients in off the shelf Chinese medications

Do not touch, buy or use any of these off the shelf Chinese medications that contain the following ingredients.

Aconitum (草乌 cao wu, 乌头 wu tou, 附子  fu zi)

The Yunnan White Medicine (Yunnan Bai Yao) contains “草乌 cao wu”, aka “草乌头 cao wu tou”, “乌头 wu tou”, “附子 fu zi”.

“Cao wu”, “wu tou”, “fu zi” are various names of Radix Aconiti kusnezoffii, i.e., the tuber of Aconitum kusnezoffii.

The Aconitum base is a very strong poison. A dose of 0.2 milligram will cause poisoning. A dose between 0.2 milligram up to 1.5 milligram will cause heart palpitation, arrhythmia, and heart stopage. A dose between 2 and 4 milligrams is fatal.

Cultivated Aconitum is called “chuan wu tou” or “Sichuan wu tou”. The wild variety of Aconitum is called “cao wu tou” or “grass wu tou”. The “chuan wu tou” is Radix aconiti or Aconitum carmichaeli.

Pinellia (半夏 ban xia, 生半夏 sheng ban xia)

“Sheng ban xia” is raw Rhizoma pinelliae, the tuber of Pinellia ternata.

Pinellia causes respiratory paralysis.

Do not use Pinellia with Aconitum.

Realgar (雄黄 xiong huang)

Realgar is arsenic disulfide. It produces arsenic poisoning.

Cinnabar (朱砂 Zhu Sha)

Cinnabar, cinnabaris, is mercuric sulfide. It produces mercury poisoning.

 

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About masterchensays

Victor Chen, herbalist, alternative healthcare lecturer, Chinese affairs analyst, retired journalist
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