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    May 06, 2016

    HSA warns against 'herbal' capsules after woman's weight balloons

    SHE thought she had found "miracle pills" that could rid her of the itching hives which had been bothering her for more than six months.

    But the 41-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Madam Teo, felt something was amiss when her weight ballooned from 50kg to 58kg.

    This was after she regularly consumed a product labelled Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule for two months.

    It turned out that the capsules, which claimed to be "100 per cent herbal", contained a number of potent medicinal ingredients.

    Yesterday, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) warned the public to avoid the product, which Madam Teo had bought from a retail store in Penang, Malaysia, last December.

    Driven to her wits' end after four doctors were unable to cure her hives, she had turned to the capsules after her sister, whom she was visiting in Penang, recommended them.

    "My nine-year-old niece had taken the same capsules over a 10-day-period and her hives disappeared after that, so I thought it wouldn't be a problem," recalled Madam Teo who is self-employed.

    Her hives disappeared after just one day, and she continued taking two capsules a day after returning to Singapore.

    Then, her friends noticed her quick weight gain in February.

    After visiting several doctors, she realised that the extra weight could be related to the capsules.

    They were sent to the HSA for testing and she was diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome, a hormonal disorder.

    Among other substances, the capsules were found to contain dexamethasone, a steroid used to treat inflammation.

    Thankfully, Madam Teo went for a medical check-up last month and no serious health issues were detected.

    The HSA advised those consuming the capsules to consult a doctor.

    But they should not stop taking them immediately as doing so can cause withdrawal symptoms.

    Those caught selling or distributing the capsules face a fine of up to $10,000 and jail of up to two years.