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   Jan 27

Chinese college graduate dies from liver failure after taking herbal tonic to treat hair loss in preparation for new job

A fresh college graduate from eastern China has died of liver failure after overdosing on a plant commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat hair loss.

Cui Fei, 26, from Anhui province, had just graduated from the Central South University of Forestry and Technology in Changsha, southern Hunan province, last summer, Anhuinews.com reported.

To prepare himself for a job upon graduation, he had been seeking treatment for his hair loss problem at two hospitals in Anhui since last January.

Cui in total consumed almost 3kg of heshouwu, a plant used to treat hair loss in traditional Chinese medicine, according to the report. The plant, also known as Chinese knotweed, is a species of the buckwheat family.

But oral doses of the plant have been found to be potentially harmful to patients’ livers. In July 2014, the China Food and Drug Administration published a warning about side effects of taking the plant.

Cui was initially prescribed two weeks of tonics that contained heshouwu from Jin’an Hospital. Although he fell ill during the treatment, he finished the course of tonics.

But when the hair problem did not go away, Cui went to another hospital that prescribed him with another medicine that also contained heshouwu.

In August, while still taking the medicine prescribed from the second hospital, Cui was diagnosed with drug-induced liver damage. Over the next two months, his liver failed. He died on December 31.

Cui’s family has accused doctors of negligence in prescribing Cui with heshouwu-containing medication, but a deputy director of Jin’an Hospital denied that the hospital had any responsibility in causing his death.

“What our doctors prescribes is very common in treating hair loss. The dosage was within limits. We asked patients to come to the hospital to check for side effects every two weeks,” the director, identified only by his surname Hu, was quoted as saying.

Source: South China Morning Post

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