Singapore's Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is warning the public against consuming a product called 'PHQ 1001 Khasiat Penawar Herba Qaeh Serata Herb', after a consumer developed serious steroid-induced side effects and diabetes after consumption.

The product was marketed as a traditional herbal remedy claiming to address a variety of medical conditions such as pain, impotence, kidney diseases and stroke. The product can be bought through social media platforms and overseas websites, said HSA.

However, HSA found that it contained "multiple undeclared potent western medicines" - including dexamethasone, piroxicam, griseofulvin and paracetamol - after a female in her 60s experienced rapid weight gain and developed a puffy face after consuming the product regularly for a few months.

Dexamethasone is a potent steroid in many other banned herbal remedies that can cause Cushing's syndrome, high blood pressure, diabetes and an increased risk of infection when taken long-term without medical supervision.

High levels of banned medical substances present

While she did experience "rapid relief" for her knee pain after consuming the product, the product was also thought to be the reason for the diabetes and Cushing's syndrome that she was diagnosed with later on.

HSA said that the woman had bought the product through a social media platform and according to her doctor, a few of her friends who also consumed the product, experienced weight gain, which was likely to have been caused by the steroids.

HSA advised members of the public who are consuming the product to consult their doctor immediately as stopping the consumption of steroids abruptly without medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure - particularly if the products have been taken for more than a few weeks.

Especially for products that claim to produce quick results for chronic medical conditions, "exercise caution when purchasing health products online or from sources which you may not be familiar with, even if they are recommended by well-meaning friends and relatives," said HSA.

HSA issues warnings to sellers

HSA also warned sellers to stop selling PHQ 1001 Khasiat Penawar Herba Qaseh Serata Herb immediately or else face legal action.

"It is illegal to sell and supply complementary health products containing undeclared potent western medicines. Anyone who supplies such products is liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to three years and/or fined up to S$100,000," it said. MIMS

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