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Archive – Health Canada Warns Consumers Not to Take Products Containing Chaparral

Starting date:
December 21, 2005
Posting date:
December 21, 2005
Type of communication:
Advisory
Subcategory:
Natural health products
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Issue:
Important Safety Information, Unauthorized products
Audience:
General Public
Identification number:
RA-11000472

Health Canada is warning consumers not to ingest the herb chaparral in the form of loose leaves, teas, capsules or bulk herbal products because of the risk of liver and kidney problems.

Health Canada is currently aware of several products on the Canadian market (see appended table) intended for oral consumption that contain chaparral, including leaves in bulk packages. The manufacturers/importers are asking retailers to remove the listed products from their shelves.

Health Canada has also sent a letter to food and natural health product associations asking them to disseminate information on the safety, availability and use of chaparral to their members.

A Customs Alert has been issued by Health Canada to prevent the importation of the natural health products listed in this advisory.

It is possible that other chaparral-containing oral products are on the market, therefore consumers are urged to check food and natural health product labels carefully. Health Canada will update the list of products as required.

Consumers should stop ingesting retail products containing chaparral and seek medical attention if they have experienced symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, fatigue or jaundice (e.g., dark urine, yellow discolouration of the eyes). To date, Health Canada has received one report of acute hepatitis associated with chaparral ingestion.

Chaparral-containing topical products, such as ointments, creams and lotions, have not been associated with the adverse effects described above.

Chaparral refers to three plant species: Larrea tridentata, Larrea divaricata and Larrea mexicana, which may also be called creosote bush, greasewood, or hediondilla. The shrub grows in the western United States and parts of Mexico, and is used traditionally by the indigenous people of these regions to treat such conditions as arthritis, cancer, tuberculosis, bowel cramps, diarrhea, venereal disease, colds and bronchitis. No chaparral-containing products are currently approved by Health Canada for any use.

Canadians should only use drugs and natural health products that have been authorized for sale by Health Canada. Authorized drugs and natural health products will bear either an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), a Natural Product Number (NPN) or a Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM).

Consumers and health care professionals may report any health product-related adverse reaction suspected as being associated with chaparral by contacting Health Canada:

Telephone: 1-866-234-2345 
Facsimile: 1-866-678-6789.

Any food-related adverse reactions suspected as being associated with chaparral may be reported to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Telephone the Canadian Food Inspection Agency toll-free at 1-800-442-2342 to obtain the phone number for your province.

Table: Health Canada identified the following Chaparral-containing products on the Canadian market*:
Chaparral sold as food in bulk and in any size package under any brand
Hanna's Herbal Special Teas- LYM™ (Formerly Lymph Tea)
Kroeger Herb Products Co., Inc. Boulder, Colorado
Strauss Healthy Cell Tea
Strauss Herb Co. Kamloops, British Columbia
Strauss Lymphatic Capsules
Strauss Herb Co. Kamloops, British Columbia
Strauss Lymphatic Tea
Strauss Herb Co. Kamloops, British Columbia

* Chaparral leaves sold in bulk have also been identified on the
Canadian market, and should not be purchased for oral use.

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