2 natural health products pose serious risks, Health Canada warns

Consumers are being warned that two unauthorized natural health products have been found to contain high levels of lead and mercury.

Consumption of Emperor's Tea Pill (Tian Huang Bu Xin Wan) and Hepatico Extract (Shu Gan Wan) can pose serious health risks as the metals can accumulate in the body's vital organs, Health Canada said Friday. Infants, children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of heavy metals.

The lots included in the alert are Emperor's Tea Pill lot #010705 with an expiration date of July 2010, and Hepatico Extract lots #040804 and #110604 with expiration dates of August 2009 and June 2009 respectively.

Lead poisoning can lead to serious health problems including abdominal pain, anemia, pain, blood pressure fluctuations, insomnia, kidney and brain damage and in severe cases death.

The toxic effects of mercury can lead to irritability, tremors, memory loss, insomnia, concentration problems. Mercury poisoning can also cause lasting damage to the brain and kidneys.

While no adverse reactions related to these products have been reported to Health Canada, public health officials in New York responded to one incident of an adverse reaction related to the use of both pills.

Emperor's Tea Pill is used to treat insomnia, amnesia, palpitations and constipation. Hepatico Extract is used for abdominal gas, hiccups, belching, loose stools and poor appetite.

The products, which may have been purchased online or brought into the country by travellers, are not authorized for sale in Canada.

The natural health products were both manufactured by Lanzhou Traditional Chinese Herbs of China.

Health hazard alert