Traditional Chinese medicine is fast gaining popularity across the world. However, thousands of people are risking their health using rogue Chinese herbal medicine stores, experts said yesterday.
It is estimated that 6,000 stores across the Britain offer treatment for conditions ranging from eczema to the menopause. But the industry, although growing in popularity, is largely unregulated.
Health chiefs say 67 in Britain are being investigated, and three prosecuted for selling illegal remedies.
One woman lost her kidneys after taking herbal medicine for the skin complaint eczema, while a man has a major heart condition after being given banned slimming pills.
According to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, most of Britain's 6,000 Chinese herbal remedy stores are unregulated.
Under current regulations Chinese medics are treated as shop keepers rather than traders, so in the same way a butcher prosecuted for selling bad meat would be allowed to continue trading so are they.
Dr Jidong Wu, of the Association of Traditional Chinese medicine is calling for tighter regulation. He said "dodgy and fake" practitioners were damaging the image of Chinese medicine.