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Published on : Dec 11, 2015

A sample of 26 widely-sold traditional Chinese medicines reveals that 90% were not safe to be consumed by humans due to the presence of undeclared dangerous and illegal substances. 

As per a study carried out by Australian researchers at Curtin University, University of Adelaide, and Murdoch University, wherein toxicology, DNA sequencing, and heavy metal testing was performed to screen the constituents of 26 traditional Chinese medicines that are sold for flu and general wellness remedies, which can be purchased from Adelaide markets.

However, the medicine brands were not disclosed, though researchers stated that the medicines tested were easily available in retailers and markets around Australia.

As published in the Natural Scientific Reports journal, the results stated that 92% of the medicines that were tested contained one or more substances that were not listed on the product labeling. Moreover, 60% of the medicines that were tested contained at least one or more undeclared substance.

Among the unlisted substances were over-the-counter drugs such as steroids, paracetamol, and illegal stimulants such as ephedrine and also active ingredient that is found in Viagra, sildenafil.

Among the 26 medicines that were tested, 12 were listed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the regulatory agency in Australia. However, the remaining 14 were not even listed and should not have been available in drug stores/

The unlisted substances found in these medicines were DNA from plants and endangered animals like tigers and snow leopard. More than this, the DNA from frogs and pit viper were also found that are supposed to be deliberately added. Some traces of DNA from dog, cat, and rat were also present in small amounts, which could possibly from contamination that happened during the manufacturing process.

In addition, more than half the medicines tested contained substantial levels of toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic.