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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


TEJEDOR-GARCIA, Noelia; GARCIA-PASTOR, Coral; BENITO-MARTINEZ, Selma  and  DE LUCIO-CAZANA, Francisco Javier. Information quality and health risks in Spanish-language retail websites for Chinese herbal medicine. Gac Sanit [online]. 2018, vol.32, n.1, pp.54-60.  Epub Nov 30, 2020. ISSN 0213-9111.


The growing use of purchase online via Internet retailers favours the access to potentially toxic natural products. It also contributes to the quick dissemination of the claims made by the retailers on efficacy and safety, these claims being not always based upon reliable information. Here, we have conducted an online search to find Spanish-language retail websites for Chinese herbal medicine and we have analysed them for the quality of product information and the potential health risks.


i) Online search in Google España to find Spanish-language retail websites for Chinese herbal medicine in which we analysed both the claims regarding possible health benefits and adequate safe use indications ii) Identification of potentially toxic herbs in the websites iii) Quantification of Chinese herbal medicines withdrawn by the Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios (AEMPS).


1) Only one third of the 30 Spanish-language retail websites found which sell Chinese herbal medicine observe the law, given that the other websites include illegal Western disease claims as marketing tools, 2) Five websites provide some safety information, 3) Two websites offer potentially toxic herbs and 4) Chinese herbal medicine adulterated with sibutramine, silfenafil or their analogues make a considerable percentage of the total products withdrawn by the AEMPS.


Online health seekers should be warned about misinformation on retail websites for Chinese herbal medicine and directed to a Spanish government Web site for guidance in safely navigating the Internet for buying Chinese herbal medicine.

Keywords : Traditional Chinese medicine; Chinese herbal medicine; Complementary therapies; Dietary supplements; Legislation and jurisprudence; Toxicity; Internet; Advertising.

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