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MoH warns against using herbal remedy for COVID-19

The Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued an advisory against using Lianhua Qingwen and Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang products for treatment or prevention of COVID-19, adding that claims for the herbal remedy to treat the virus are unsubstantiated.

It said Lianhua Qingwen or Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang products contain ephedra, an herbal plant with constituent of active alkaloids such as ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.

The ministry said the continuous use of ephedrine without supervision may cause side effects such as anxiety, headache, insomnia, nausea, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and heart attack. The MoH said in view of its safety concern and adverse effects, the public is advised against its use and/or continuous use without seeking prior advice from a registered  medical practitioner.

The ministry said while a medicine regulatory authority from a neighbouring country has listed some Lianhua Qingwen products as Chinese traditional medicine with approved use for the relief of cold and flu symptoms, the products are not indicated for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. The MoH said it requires any product claimed to be able to treat COVID-19 to provide sufficient scientific evidence from clinical trials to prove its safety and efficacy.

Complete documents must also be submitted to the ministry for evaluation before it can be approved and imported into the country, said MoH, adding that the ministry has not issued any approval for herbal products including Lianhua Qingwen for use in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

The ministry advised the public to be vigilant and not to fall prey to herbal or supplement products with unfounded claims.

The ministry also warns suppliers and retailers (including online retailers on social media) that it is an offence to promote any products with false or misleading claims of preventing or treating diseases. The penalty upon conviction is a fine not exceeding BND5,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

A photo of the herbal remedy. PHOTO: MOH