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Herbal medicine regulation "urgently needed"

There is no evidence to suggest a Chinese herbal "doctor" whose pills destroyed a customer's health knew of the potential harm, as the sale of traditional Chinese medicines is totally unregulated, a judge has ruled.

Ying "Susan" Wu, 48, admitted selling the pills to civil servant Patricia Booth, which destroyed her kidneys and gave her cancer. But the Old Bailey judge threw out a charge of "administering a noxious substance" and Wu pleaded guilty to lesser counts.

Wu sold the small brown "Xie Gan Wan" tablets to 58-year-old Mrs Booth for a skin condition for more than five years from a shop in Chelmsford, Essex.

Wu, of Holland-on-Sea, Essex, is due to be sentenced later.

The case highlighted "the urgent need for the statutory regulation of herbal medicine in the UK", said the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, which represents more than 450 practitioners.

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