South Australian health authorities have issued a warning about the growing popularity of herbal medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
SA Health has warned that dangerous levels of lead have been found in products purchased online from overseas.
Last month a child in NSW fell ill after consuming a herbal medicine from India, which was found to be contaminated with the metal.
Authorities say Australians are looking to alternative medicine as the coronavirus pandemic sparks health fears.
High exposure to lead can cause severe brain and kidney damage or death, with unborn babies and children most at risk.
SA Health’s Dr David Simon says there is often no quality control in the countries producing such herbal medicines.
“Lead can affect the developing brain of children and prevent them from reaching their full potential,” Simon said.
However, the Chinese medicine industry is urging people not to be deterred.
Practitioner Damian Carey says there is no issue, so long as herbal products are purchased from a reputable source.
“People who are registered will only buy top-quality herbs that are subject to good manufacturing practice,” he said.
“We always need to be careful about everything – you need to be careful about the milk you buy.”
Experts say those seeking to purchase alternative medicines should buy local and always check the label for Australian approval.