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Last Updated: Monday, 27 October, 2003, 17:52 GMT
Tablets 'caused kidney failure'
A woman suffered kidney failure after being sold Chinese herbal treatments containing a poisonous plant extract, a court has been told.

Sandra Stay took the herbal treatments for almost three years to combat a skin condition and started to feel ill in December 2001, it is claimed.

The 59-year-old Hove woman developed headaches and nausea and was diagnosed with advanced renal failure in March last year for which she now has regular dialysis treatment, Hove Crown Court heard.

Peter Gower, prosecuting, said two specialist consultants had concluded her condition developed after she took a poisonous plant extract known as Aristolochia.

Substance 'sold at clinic'

He said Zie Zheng, 37, had sold products containing the substance at her clinic, the Guo Yao Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Centre in St James's Street, Brighton.

He claimed that Ms Zheng sold the treatments between October 1999 and February 2001, even though Aristolochia was banned from medication by emergency legislation in July 1999 over fears that it could cause renal failure.

Ms Stay told the jury she had suffered from the skin condition psoriasis since she was 16 years old and had turned to Chinese medicine as a last resort.

"I was prescribed some tablets and some cream and told not to have any fish or mushrooms at the same time," she said.

Skin discomfort

She said her doses depended on her skin discomfort, but she regularly took 15 brown tablets in the morning and at night, applied cream and also took two white pills each day.

She said that laboratory tests on brown tablets she supplied after becoming ill showed they contained an extract of Aristolochia.

Ms Zheng, who is originally from Hong Kong, denies four counts of selling a medical product containing a prohibited substance.

The jury was informed that Ms Zheng was being retried.

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