Abu Dhabi: Nearly 125 kilograms of unsafe herbal products and unlicensed sexual and slimming preparations were recently confiscated from a herbal medicine store in the capital.
The products were found during a recent inspection campaign conducted by the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Health (MoH), which is responsible for the licensing of chemical and medical products.
A statement sent by the municipality on Sunday said many of the seized items were not licensed by the ministry. Others contained unclear labels written in languages other than English or Arabic. Most of the confiscated slimming products, which were also unlicensed, made misleading claims about their effectiveness in enabling weight loss.
The municipality statement added that some of the sexual enhancers found were also packaged as teas and drinks, and that these could therefore be used to manipulate unsuspecting women in certain cases.
Dr Khalifa Al Rumaithi, director of public health, urged residents to avoid purchasing or using unlabelled items or products with illegible labels.
The municipality statement also said that inspectors would continue to conduct frequent checks on herbal stores in order to ensure that harmful products were not being sold.
When contacted, medical professionals warned against the risks of using herbal products without first consulting a doctor.
Carina Hawari, head of pharmacy at the Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre, told Gulf News that herbal products can create side effects based on the individual’s metabolism or by interacting with other drugs.
“For example, sexual enhancers can lead to flushing, headaches, dizziness and diarrhoea. In severe cases, they can even lead to sudden hearing loss, increased intraocular pressure, severe hypotension, heart attacks or strokes,” she explained.
“Many of these effects can be caused when enhancers interact with medicines or when the dosage is too high. This is why it is imperative that people always consult with a doctor before taking any chemical or herbal product,” Hawari said.
She added that unlabelled products are always risky as there is no information about their components.
“Even if a patient suffers from side effects, there is no available information about what may have caused the effects. In addition, unlabelled products could even be expired,” Hawari said.
Slimming products are also harmful when taken without a medical consultation, and as Gulf News reported, the municipality withdrew several of them from stores across the UAE last year.
Hawari said that weight loss drugs could lead to blurred vision, dry mouth and oily sweating.
“There is also no guarantee that slimming products will be effective, as weight loss methods must be geared towards the individuals’ physique. For example, some people store excess water in their bodies and this cannot be treated with weight loss drugs,” she added.