Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention has warned the public against using herbal medicines prepared at homes or perfume shops.

Dr Ameen Hussain Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary for the Public Health Policy and Licensing Sector and vice-chairman of the Medical Licensing Committee, said on Saturday that the use of herbal mixtures which are popular among some sections of society poses serious health risks and puts a huge burden on the health system and budget.

These so-called medicines have no medical basis and their effects are not scientifically proved. However, an increasing number of people are using them and facing disastrous consequences like abortion, poisoning, kidney and liver damage, hallucination, blood disorders and high blood pressure, Al Amiri said.

Al Amiri also warned people against trading in such harmful mixtures and circulating misleading health information through social media. Some these remedies are being promoted as effective for the treatment of common diseases such as asthma, influenza, diabetes and depression.

People who want to use herbal medicines must approach the ministry or the health authority concerned in each emirate to ensure their effectiveness as these are the mandated entities to announce the approved medicines across the country, Al Amiri said.

Some of these herbal mixtures were examined and analysed in specialised medical labs. The labels of the packets or bottles had no data revealing the ingredients, source, the expiry dates or dosage, and method of use. In some cases, it was found that the mixtures were manufactured using primitive methods and in uncontrolled and unlicensed places.

Al Amiri cautioned that some of these medicinal herbs may interact with other medicines being used by the patient, causing adverse effects and loss of or decrease in the effectiveness of the prescribed drugs. In addition, the active ingredients in the herbs may be affected by storage conditions, heat and humidity, which may turn the active ingredient into a toxic substance.

He pointed out that the UAE is the first country in the region to authorise complementary medicine and it has laid down the rules for practising those methods, which must be subject to approved conditions.

He also called on the public not to circulate and disseminate wrong information about medical products and herbal remedies. They must resort to the Ministry of Health and Prevention or health authorities concerned in the emirates to get authentic information about any medical matters, medicines and medical warnings.

Al Amiri warned that people promoting such misleading information would be held legally accountable by the competent authorities as their actions compromise the health security of the country.