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October 2021

Br J Dermatol. 1997 Apr; 136(4): 592-3.

Reversible dilated cardiomyopathy following treatment of atopic eczema with Chinese herbal medicine.

Ferguson JE, Chalmers RJ, Rowlands DJ.

Dermatology Centre, Hope Hospital, Salford, U.K.

Chinese herbal medicines are increasingly being used as an alternative treatment for chronic skin disease. Most patients and many doctors remain insufficiently aware of their potential toxicity. We report a patient with eczema who developed a severe cardiomyopathy following a 2-week course of Chinese herbal medicine. The connection between the two conditions was not made until 2 weeks after presentation when the patient was specifically asked if she had ingested any unusual substances. The belief that herbs, as natural products available without prescription, are harmless, is commonplace and patients may not consider them worthy of mention during a standard medical history.


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