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Cancer Patient Who Took Herbal Remedy Died After ‘Rare Reaction’

A herbal remedy may have triggered a rare reaction that killed a cancer patient, an inquest has heard.

Retired electrician Haydn Owen Jones, of AbergeleConwy county, died on 17 June 2022, three months after going to hospital with multiple organ failure.

The inquest in Ruthin heard Mr Jones had been in remission after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2014.

But the cancer returned and Mr Jones began a third course of treatment.

He began taking two chemotherapy drugs and a steroid in March 2022.

After consulting a herbalist in Abergele he also started using a herbal remedy which included mistletoe, yarrow and lily of the valley.

Other ingredients were the plants cat’s claw and echinacea as well as corn silk, which is fibre that grows as part of ears of corn.

Within days he fell ill with a fever, swelling and a rash.

Mr Jones was initially treated for sepsis but his liver function worsened and he never recovered.

Giving evidence on Wednesday, Mr Jones’s consultant oncologist Dr Earnest Heartin said it emerged during a discussion with Mr Jones’ family that he had been taking a herbal medication.

He said he could not be certain whether taking that while undergoing chemotherapy had played a part in Mr Jones’s death.

Dr Heartin said he always advised patients against taking herbal remedies while they were undergoing treatment.

He said patients were also given a leaflet that advised them to check with their doctor if they were taking alternative remedies.

Coroner Kate Robertson said this was “at odds” with Dr Heartin’s advice.

Charlotte Haig, of Betsi Cadwaladr health board’s medicine advice team, said herbal medicine was not well regulated and that they advised against their use during chemotherapy.

Ms Haig said when herbal and conventional medicines were used together there was potential for “some of these herbs to have an effect on the liver function”.

Echinacea, she said, can affect enzymes which clear the body of drugs, increasing potential for toxicity.

The coroner said it was probable the combined effects of the herbal remedy and the chemotherapy caused the liver damage that killed Mr Jones.

In a narrative conclusion, the coroner said it was “likely a rare reaction occurred resulting in his death.”

Ms Robertson called for advice on leaflets given to chemotherapy patients about herbal medicines to be clearer.

Source : BBC