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NZ health authorities issue fresh warning over joint health ingredient

For the second time this year the New Zealand Ministry of Health has issued a warning about supplements containing Artemisia annua extract, following a series of reports indicating liver harm. 

An initial alert in February this year was a result of 14 reports of liver harm linked to the use of Arthrem. Since then there have been an additional 11 reports, some showing serious harm. Some of these new reports may have been from people taking these products earlier, but they may also have been from people continuing the take the product.

Artemisia annua extract (also known as Sweet Wormwood, Sweet Annie or Qing hao) is marketed as a natural dietary supplement for maintaining and supporting joint health and mobility. Several products containing Artemisia annua extract are available in New Zealand.

New Zealand’s medicine safety body Medsafe warns that anyone taking these products should be aware of the risk of harm.

The majority of cases reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) are linked to the use of Arthrem soft gel capsules (Promisia). Two cases also report use of GO Arthri-Remedy 1-A-Day soft gel capsules (GO Healthy). GO Arthri-Remedy 1-A-Day was withdrawn after publication of the previous alert. There remain other products in New Zealand that contain Artemesia annua extract.

Medsafe recommends anyone taking these products to be alert for nausea (feeling sick), stomach pain, pale stools, dark urine, itching all-over, yellow eyes or skin. Anyone with these symptoms should seek medical advice.

From the information provided to CARM, as soon as the symptoms developed, all of the patients stopped taking the product containing Artemisia annua extract.

At the time the reports were made, most patients had either already recovered from the harm caused to their livers, or were improving.

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About the Author

Jim Manson

Writer & Editor
Jim Manson is editor-in-chief of Diversified Communications UK‘s natural and organic publishing portfolio. He’s written widely on environment and development issues for specialist magazines and national media, including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, and World Bank Urban Age

Articles by Jim Manson

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