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Parents warned over herbal supplement

Holland and Barrett told to stop selling child immune boost remedy

Mark Gould

Monday, 06 August 2012

The UK drugs and medicines watchdog is warning parents not to give their children a herbal immune system supplement sold by Holland and Barrett.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says that it has asked Holland and Barrett to stop selling Echinacea & Golden Root for Juniors as it is unlicensed, is labelled incorrectly and the claimed herbal ingredients present are incorrectly described.

There are concerns that this product may not be suitable for use in children and adolescents and may cause unwanted side effects.

The MHRA says that pictures on the product do not match the labelling description and appears to show Goldenseal root Hydrastis canadensis and not Golden root Rhodiola rosea. The botanical name on the product Berberis aquifolium is also incorrect.

MHRA scientists say the safety of Berberis aquifolium and Hydrastis canadensis, which contain alkaloids such as berberine and hydrastine, has not been established for children or adolescents.

High doses of berberine are reported to cause stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, nervousness, depression, dyspnoea, bradycardia, cardiac damage, hypotension, seizures, paralysis, spasms, and death. Overdoses of hydrastine are reported to cause exaggerated reflexes, convulsions, paralysis, and respiratory failure. Berberine is reported to cause or worsen jaundice in newborns and could lead to a life-threatening problem called kernicterus. Rhodiola rosea it is not recommended in children and adolescents under 18 years of age due to the lack of adequate safety data.

The MHRA says this Holland and Barrett herbal product is not registered under the traditional herbal registration scheme (THR), which is a scheme to help consumers be confident that the herbal remedies they are taking have been assessed for quality, safety and good manufacturing.

Richard Woodfield MHRA head of herbal policy said: “Parents need to remember that just because a product is labelled as natural does not mean it is safe.

“When buying herbal products you should look for those that have a traditional herbal registration which can be identified by a THR number on their label. This ensures that the product is safe and avoids consumers putting their health in jeopardy.

“Anyone that has this herbal product at home should stop using it immediately and return any unused product to Holland and Barrett. If you have taken this product and have any concerns then please speak to your GP or healthcare professional.”

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