What risks do herbal products pose to the Australian community?

Adam Morton
Med J Aust 2017; 207 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/mja17.00153
Published online: 7 August 2017

I thank Byard and colleagues1 for their review of risks of herbal products to the Australian community, which highlighted the high rates of use in younger women with a tertiary education and in patients with chronic diseases or comorbidities. Refugee and migrant women represent a group with potentially high rates of use of herbal products as well as other traditional practices, particularly during pregnancy. Ethnobotany surveys found that 90% of women in eastern Ivory Coast and 80% of women in Mali used medicinal plants during pregnancy.2 A prospective cohort study found that 45% of women in China consumed Chinese herbal medicine during pregnancy and the postpartum period.3 The ingestion of soil, clay or chalk has been observed in up to 84% of pregnant women in African countries, and may be complicated by hypokalaemic paralysis, iron and zinc deficiency, lead poisoning, intestinal obstruction and parasitic infestation.4,5

  • Adam Morton

  • Mater Health Services, Brisbane, QLD


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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