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368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages

What's the harm in herbal remedies?

Herbal remedies are everywhere these days, often promoted as safe alternatives to prescription medicines. However, many are not manufactured consistently and can have severe side effects on the body.  Read more about herbal remedies

Here are 100,508 people who were harmed by someone not thinking critically.

Lorie Atikian

Age: 17 months
Ontario, Canada

Died (malnutrition, pneumonia)
September 25, 1987

Lorie's parents, concerned about modern food additives, were advised to give her an organic vegetarian diet. She was also treated with herbal & homeopathic remedies and an energy machine. Her parents were convicted of neglect. Read more

Steve Bechler (athlete)

Age: 23
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

February 17, 2003

He was trying to lose some weight during Orioles spring training, using a supplement that contained the Chinese herbal remedy ephedra. He collapsed from multiple organ failure in the heat and died. The FDA banned ephedra a year later. Read more & more

Photo of Debbie Benson

Debbie Benson

Age: 55
Fort Bragg, California

Died (cancer)
July 15, 1997

She had a deep distrust of traditional medicine, so she sought out naturopaths and other alternative practitioners for her breast cancer. It raged out of control and she died. Read more

Michael Berggren

Age: 55
Hines Creek, Alberta, Canada

December 26, 2006

This veteran trucker lost control of his truck one morning and died in the accident. An investigation found a rare and powerful tranquilizer in his blood. He had been taking an herbal sleep aid that illegally contained the drug. Read more & more

Leslie Bramston

Age: 44
Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia

Died (untreated cancer)
November 2004

Seeking a cure for her cancer, she was sold vitamin and herbal treatments for thousands of dollars. Finally she was injected with cesium chloride as part of an ozone therapy, and she died. Read more

Photo of Boonreung Buachan

Boonreung Buachan

Age: 34
Prai Bung, Thailand

Died of untreated snakebite
March 22, 2004

A well known snake handler, he was bit during a show. He took a herbal remedy for snakebite and proceeded. The show went on until paralysis set in, and he died later at a hospital. Read more & more

Tawnya Cummiskey

Laguna Niguel, California

Harrassed, bullied

When Tawnya's doctor prescribed some herbal supplements from a certain company, little did she know he was signing her up to be a representative. It became clear this was an MLM scam, but the doctor kept pressuring her. Read more

Photo of Brittney Dorcy

Brittney Dorcy

Age: 2
Vancouver, Washington

Murdered by her mother
June 12, 2004

Brittney's mom suffered from severe depression. Her medical treatment for this was very successful and lauded in a local news article. But she decided to discontinue medication and treat herself with St. John's Wort. A tragedy resulted. Read more & more

Photo of Jessica Dorcy

Jessica Dorcy

Age: 4
Vancouver, Washington

Murdered by her mother
June 12, 2004

Jessica's mom suffered from severe depression. Her medical treatment for this was very successful and lauded in a local news article. But she decided to discontinue medication and treat herself with St. John's Wort. A tragedy resulted. Read more & more

Photo of Tyrell Dueck

Tyrell Dueck

Age: 13
Martensville, Saskatchewan, Canada

Died (cancer)
June 30, 1999

He got bone cancer in his leg, but rejected amputation and chemotherapy. Instead he sought alternative and herbal therapy in Mexico. The Saskatchewan government sued to force conventional treatment. The cancer spread and he died. Read more & more

Linda Epping

Age: 8
Los Angeles, California

December 29, 1961

Linda was scheduled for surgery to remove a tumor, when her parents met a chiropractor who said he could cure her. He had her swallowing up to 124 pills a day for months. He was convicted of second-degree murder in 1967. Read more

Norman Ferrie

Age: 64
Invergowrie, Perthshire, Scotland

Died (liver failure)
July 3, 2004

Norman suffered from arthritis, and decided to take an herbal remedy (glucosamine) to ease his pain. Only 2 months after starting, he died of a severe allergic reaction. Read more & more

David Flint


Died (untreated leukemia)
April 1994

David sought out ayurvedic treatments from (among others) Deepak Chopra. At one point he was told his leukemia was gone. It was not. David died four months later, and a lawsuit was filed in July 1995. Read more & more

G. Fowden

Sandy, Utah


A lifelong believer in natural cures, she shunned conventional medicine. When she got sick she saw nearly every form of alternative practitioner. When she finally allowed herself to be taken to a hospital, it was far too late to help. Read more

Dale & Susan Fox


Thousands of dollars in debt

Multi-level marketing for herbal remedies Read more

Anita Gergasko

Age: 58
Hazlet, New Jersey

Died (cancer)

She refused chemotherapy for her breast cancer, instead choosing massive doses of vitamin C and herbs. The cancer spread. On her deathbed she made her husband promise that he would not allow any of her family or friends to make the same mistake. Read more

Petra Hall

Age: 54
Hamilton, Michigan

February 6, 1996

An osteopath injected Petra with herbal tea to treat her leukemia. Later that day she was in a hospital with multiple organ failure. She died 11 days later. The osteopath was fined and got five years of probation. Read more & more

Betty Harlan

Age: 76
Windsor, Wisconsin

May 9, 2005

Betty had multiple chronic health problems including diabetes. Seeking treatment for a leg ulcer, she went to a wellness center run by a naturopath. Her daugher feared she stopped taking her conventional medicine. Read more

Connie Hirschmugl

Novato, California

Hospitalized near death

She took a popular Chinese cold remedy Zhong Gan Ling. Soon she was hospitalized with so few white blood cells that doctors suspected leukemia. It was found the herbal remedy had been spiked with a banned pain reliever. She sued. Read more

Kris Humphrey

Age: 24
San Jose, California

August 14, 1994

She did not believe in traditional medicine. When she became pregnant she took the herbal remedy pennyroyal to induce an abortion. When complications arose, she had to go to the hospital. She went into shock and died. Read more & more

Jacqueline Jones

Age: 50
St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England

Hospitalized for six weeks

A sample of an herbal treatment for asthma was sent to her house. She tried it and stopped using her medications. Within two days she was in a hospital where she stayed for 6 weeks. Read more

John Kimani & 2 others

Naivasha, Kenya

Died / hospitalized
July 15, 2008

When post election violence erupted in Kenya, he abandoned his farm for a refugee camp. In the camp he was given an herbal remedy for "blood purification" and died within minutes. Two others were hospitalized. The herbalist was arrested. Read more

Helena Rose "Rosie" Kolitwenzew

Age: 8
Columbus, North Carolina

Died (untreated diabetes)
October 21, 1999

A naturopath convinced her mother to stop administering insulin to her, in favor of herbal remedies. She began vomiting, and died. It turns out his "degrees" were fake. He was sentenced to prison. Read more & more & more

Photo of Li Guoxing

Li Guoxing

Age: 32
Yunnan province, China

July 2008

After being mauled by a bear, he received a rare face transplant operation. His doctors prescribed immune-suppressing drugs, but he refused them in favor of herbal remedies. He died two years after the operation, and his family refused an autopsy. Read more & more & more

Mitchell James Little

Age: 18 days
Raymond Terrace, NSW, Australia

Died (untreated heart defect)
September 25, 1999

A naturopath perscribed herbal remedies & energy machine treatments for a congenital heart defect, and advised against surgery. The baby died, and the naturopath was sentenced to five years in jail. Read more & more

Nong Thi Loi & her family

Age: 63 & 37 to 47
Tuong village, Cao Bang province, Vietnam

6 people dead, one sickened
November 13, 2007

After she became sick from drinking wine laced with herbal plants, her family held an exorcism to cure her. The rest of the family drank the wine and died. She might have mistaken a poisonous herb for a safe one. Read more & more

Rhea McAllister

Age: 35
Crosby, Texas

April 2002

She took a diet supplement containing herbal ingredients including ephedra. She suffered a stroke which has caused ongoing neurological problems. A court awarded her $7.4 Million, and ephedra was banned two years later. Read more

Yesim McKeag

Age: 33
Inverleithing, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Incorrect diagnosis, useless treatments

She was told she had a hormonal imbalance and was prescribed acupuncture and herbal remedies for her acne. After several treatments, her skin got worse. A doctor later told her the diagnosis was "nonsense." Read more

Caleb Moorhead

Age: 6 months
Auckland, New Zealand

Died (malnutrition)
March 2001

Calebs parents, devout Seventh-Day Adventists, tried to feed him using a vegan diet and herbal remedies. He died of a Vitamin B12 deficiency. His parents were sentenced to five years in jail. Read more & more

André Noble

Age: 25
Wareham-Centreville, Newfoundland, Canada

July 30, 2004

This promising young actor was a vegetarian known for his love of nature. While exploring an island on a boat trip, he consumed various berries and natural vegetation. Unfortunately, one of them was monkshood, a poisonous plant. He died within hours. Read more

Sedef Olcer

Age: 46
Chicago, Illinois

Died (digitalis poisoning)
November 9, 2007

A raw foods purist, she believed that any cooking ruined food. She picked what she was thought was mullein (an herb for sore throats) and put it in a smoothie. It was actually foxglove, and she died from the poison in it. Read more & more

Charles Paynter

Age: 68
Columbus, Ohio

Hospitalized with kidney failure

He saw a chiropractor for help with his back pain. He was treated with heat, herbs, tonics and homeopathy. Three days after his last treatment, he was rushed to a hospital and barely recovered. A judgment for $147,500 was awarded by a court. Read more

Rosanna Porras

Age: 15
Fillmore, California

April 9, 1998

Rosanna dropped dead at soccer practice after taking an herbal product containing ephedra. Her parents received a $25,000 settlement. Years later, the substance was banned. Read more

Carol Jean Rubick

New York, New York

January 18, 2003

After a lumpectomy for her breast cancer, the doctor recommended she forgo chemo and radiation in favor of antioxidants and vitamins in the "Ukraine protocol". Other doctors disagreed, but she went forward. She died of cancer, and her estate sued. Read more

Peter Schlendorf

Age: 20
Panama City Beach, Florida

March 7, 1996

While on spring break with his friends, he took an herbal supplement called Ultimate Xphoria, which contained ephedra. Outrage over his death eventually led to bans on ephedra. His family sued the manufacturer and received $2.5 million. Read more & more

Sandra Stay

Age: 59
Hove, Brighton, England

Kidney failure
October 1999 - February 2001

She was sold Chinese herbal tablets for her psoriasis for three years. But they contained Aristolochia, which had been banned in England. The herbalist who sold her the tablets was prosecuted. Read more

Truong Phuc Do

Age: 47
Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam

Hospitalized with swelling and fever
May 30, 2008

He was taking a prescribed medicine for an illness, but adding an over-the-counter painkiller caused a reaction. When he took three packages of medicinal herbs recommended by a friend, he had to be hospitalized. Read more

Veronica Vincent & her mother

Age: 50, 65
Zomba, Malawi

Died & poisoned
May 4, 2008

Four children (ages 6 to 8) accused them of witchcraft. An angry mob forced them to visit a witchdoctor. He administered an herbal remedy to Veronica, which caused her death. He was arrested. Read more

Photo of Ling "Carrie" Wang

Ling "Carrie" Wang

Age: 25
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Died (liver & organ failure)

To treat a stomach upset and skin rash, a PhD student took a traditional Chinese herbal remedy called Jin Bu Huan. She fell into a coma and died. An inquest determined that her liver and organ failure must have been caused by the remedy. Read more & more

Amit Zutshi

Age: 30
Fremont, California

March 19, 2008

He relied on energy bars and herbal supplements to ensure his nutrition. What he didn’t know was the combination of supplements was unhealthy. His blood pressure and sodium levels were too low and his heart had weakened. He fainted and died suddenly. Read more

10 liver transplant patients

Age: 21 - 56

Liver failure
August 2003

In this study, half of the 20 liver transplant patients studied had taken herbal or dietary supplements that have known toxic effects to the liver. In seven cases, there was no other identifiable cause of liver failure. Read more

105 Belgian patients

Brussels, Belgium

Severe kidney disease
1990 - 1992

This study found 105 patients who had taken a Chinese herbal weight-loss pill that contained Aristolochia. They developed kidney disease and in cases cancer. Aristolochia was later banned in several countries. Read more & more

13 family members

Age: 2 weeks - 55
Paddock, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

September 21, 2008

All but two members of this family died when they were administered a deadly herbal concoction during a cleansing ritual by a 17 year old trainee healer. Read more & more

2 British patients

London, England

Kidney failure
July 1, 1999

After two documented cases of kidney failure caused by Aristolochia, the Department of Health banned the importation of this Chinese herbal remedy into England. It had earlier been banned in several other countries. Read more & more

2 women in Iowa

Age: 48, 59
Iowa City, Iowa

Hospitalization / death
April 1995

A case report of two women who were consuming Kombucha tea and had to be hospitalized. One died, the other survived. Another case involving a man is also known. Read more & more

24 cases of liver damage


Death, liver damage, liver transplants

One person died, two required liver transplants and 21 others suffered illness after using the herbal remedy kava kava, often prescribed for anxiety or stress. The German regulatory agency issued a warning and planned to ban the substance. Read more

6 New York men

Age: 35
New York City, New York

Died / injured
1993, 1995, 2008

Several men have died (and one was injured) by consuming a Chinese herbal remedy alleged to be an aphrodisiac. It is banned by the FDA but still available in some places. Read more

7 New York tea drinkers

Age: 38,39,20,10,35,40,18
New York City, New York

March 20-23, 1994

This case report tells how several people were hospitalized after drinking herbal "Paraguay tea". It was found that the raw leaves had been contaminated with belladonna. Read more

"Baby A."

Age: Newborn
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Brain damage
June 4, 2004

New age midwife & herbal remedies Read more

"John Doe"

Age: 66
South Australia

Paid $24,000 for therapy, Died

Seeking a cure for cancer, he paid thousands for a range of blood tests and herbal remedies. Authorities later denounced the practitioner as a quack in a report. Read more

"John Doe"

Age: 37
Houston, Texas

Post-op bleeding

After surgery to remove a tumor, two additional operations were required to deal with unexpected bleeding. Later it was discovered the patient drank ginseng tea daily for its herbal effects. Ginseng has a known anti-coagulant effect on blood. Read more

"John Doe"

Age: 32
Nottingham, England

Died (liver failure)

This case report is of a man who took a Chinese herbal remedy called "eternal life". Within five weeks he was gravely ill. His liver had failed and no other cause of that could be found. Read more

"John Doe"

Age: 55
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

June 30, 2008

He had purchased an over the counter product marketed as a safe legal alternative to the illegal drug ecstasy. This contains a Chinese herbal remedy "ma huang" aka ephedra. It is a powerful stimulant. He collapsed at a nightclub and died. Read more & more

"John Doe"

San Rafael, California

Low blood sugar

The FDA stopped importation of five products claiming to be natural or herbal remedies for diabetics, after this man suffered from low blood sugar after using one. The products had been spiked with a prescription drug. The man recovered. Read more & more

"John Doe"

Age: 2
San Diego, California

May 1998

The child was given a Chinese herbal remedy Hui Chun Tan on two occasions for vomiting and fever, and suffered seizures. It was found the product contained borneol, which is toxic and possibly fatal. The child recovered. Read more & more

hundreds of Filipino people

Manila, Philippines

2 deaths, blindness, wasted money
May 2002

The Philippine Academy of Ophthalmology reports two deaths, cases of blindness and hundreds of workers charged for useless treatments from iridologists. Glaucoma & diabetes patients were told to discontinue medication in favor of herbal remedies. Read more & more


Bellville, Cape Town, South Africa

June 2, 2005

Diagnosed with HIV in 2002, she was was on a waiting list for antiretrovirals. She started taking an alternative treatment, and in three days she could not even walk. Soon she was dead. Read more


Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa

March 27, 2005

HIV positive, she was being treated for TB when someone offering alternative remedies contacted her. She stopped taking her TB medicines and later died. Read more

"Patient X"

Cape Town, South Africa

October 8, 2005

He was being treated by a quack when his disease got out of control and he was hospitalized. He never had a chance to beat AIDS because of the time he wasted on the treatments. Read more

"Jane Roe"

Age: 73
Des Moines, Iowa

Acute hepatitis

This case report is of a woman admitted with acute hepatitis. No cause could be found, and she initially denied taking home remedies. Later she admitted taking aloe vera orally for constipation. Discontinuing it alleviated her symptoms. Read more

"Jane Roe"

Age: 57
Evangelisches Krankenhaus, Köln-Kalk, Germany

Acute hepatitis

Another case report of a female patient with hepatitis who was using oral aloe vera as an herbal remedy. When discontinued, her symptoms resolved completely. Read more

"Jane Roe"

Age: 54
Davis, California

Arsenic poisoning

This case report is of a woman who had various symptoms which disabled her from work. It was found she took daily kelp supplements and her urine contained arsenic. The arsenic was proven to be coming from the kelp, which was discontinued. Read more

"Jane Roe"

Age: 56
Melbourne, Australia

Died (liver failure)
July 2002

A naturopath prescribed an herbal anti-anxiety pill containing kava. She later suffered fatigue, nausea and jaundice and went to the hospital. Her liver failed five days later and she had an emergency transplant, but died. Read more

"Jane Roe"

Age: 25
San Francisco, California


She bought a medicinal tea at an herb store to help sustain her pregnancy. She wanted to avoid another miscarriage. She died within two and a half hours. Toxicologists determined an untrained clerk had put an incorrect ingredient in the tea. Read more

"Jane Roe"

Age: 61
Sacramento, California

Partially paralyzed
Summer 1999

This acupuncturist drank an herbal tea to help her arthritis. She had been sold the wrong herb. The one she got was poisonous, and she suffered partial paralysis. Read more

thousands of Airborne customers

Bonita Springs, Florida

Misled that it could cure colds
March 3, 2008

Airborne is based on Chinese herbal remedies and large doses of vitamins. The box claimed it could cure a cold based on a study that was discovered to be bogus. A lawsuit awarded $23.3M to defrauded customers. The product is still on the shelves. Read more & more

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