Blog Post

Man Dies from Traditional Chinese Treatment

he shou wuA 27 year-old recent college graduate died of liver failure after consuming more than six pounds of the traditional Chinese medicine, he shou wu, to treat his hair loss.

The Daily Mail is reporting on the case of Cui Fei who reportedly died on December 31 after being treated by doctors practicing traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

According to his parents, Fei first visited the Jing'an Hospital of Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine in Hebei city on January 31 last year. The doctors prescribed eight courses of treatment for Fei containing he shou wu, or Chinese knotweed, a plant native to China.

He shou wu, which means “black-haired Mr. He”, is named for a Chinese man who reportedly regained his black hair after using the herb.

It is given to patients for hair loss due to the Chinese medicine theory that the kidneys control the growth and color of hair and that he shou wu is of benefit to those organs.

But something went very wrong with Cui Fei. His parents say their son showed signs of illness while taking the medicine, which did not help with his hair loss. He decided to try another hospital, which also gave him a tonic containing he shou wu.

In August of last year, doctors discovered liver damage during a checkup and eventually determined that the damage was caused by the he shou wu, which is known to cause liver damage.

These dangers prompted China’s Food and Drug Administration to issue a statement in an effort to regulate usage of he shou wu in 2014.

But it was too late for Fei. By November 13, his condition had worsened and he was taken to a hospital in Beijing. Despite treatment, he died on December 31.

His parents, who are farmers, borrowed nearly one million Yuan ($150,000) to try to save their son and are devastated by his loss.

Meanwhile, the Jing’an Hospital of Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine say Fei was given the correct dose of the herb, but that he failed to return for follow-up checkups.

Thankfully, the hospital and Fei’s parents reached an agreement to settle the case.