Doctors warn of the dangers of so-called herbal “miracle creams”

5th Jul 2017

Skin experts from City Hospital have warned about the dangers of using unlabelled herbal “miracle creams” after super-potent steroids were detected in samples of several products.

Dr Donna Thompson, Consultant Dermatologist and Head of Department at the Birmingham Skin Centre, revealed the shocking findings after carrying research on 11 samples obtained from patients.

They discovered steroids, including the prescription-only ingredient clobetasol propionate, were found in seven of the 11 samples which were largely being used to treat chronic skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis particularly in children.

Researchers used a highly sensitive and specific technology to detect drugs and other chemicals to a high degree of accuracy. Their findings were presented at the British Association of Dermatologists’ annual conference, held on July 4.

Dr Thompson said: “The results of our tests were quite shocking, a number of these so-called herbal ‘miracle creams’ in fact contained super-potent steroids, which could have significant adverse health implications for users, particularly if they are being used on a regular basis.

“People have the right to know what ingredients are present in the treatments they are using and public awareness should be raised regarding this matter. If you notice that a cream you are using does not list ingredients, then I would strongly urge you not to use it on yourself or on your children.”

In the UK, all cosmetic products are subject to European Union safety regulations and must comply with detailed compositional and labelling requirements. The failure of the products tested to provide a detailed ingredients list is a breach of these regulations.

Researcher Dr Sue Ann Chan, also from the Birmingham Skin Centre, added: ““It is very concerning that unregulated topical herbal remedies continue to be accessible to patients with chronic skin disorders. The people selling these products in the UK are doing so illegally, and are putting peoples’ health in jeopardy.
“A common reason why people resort to these products is fear of potential long-term side effects of prescribed Western medicines, however, they end up inadvertently using potent drugs that should be used under instruction from a doctor.”

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