A university professor warns of the dangers of eating popular Chinese soup

An Australian study found that pak kot teh, or pork rib soup, can cause liver failure if used in combination with Western medicines.

Bak kut teh is a popular Chinese dish that literally translates to meat bone tea. However, there is no tea in the dish, which consists of pork ribs that have been boiled in a broth of herbs and spices. Alternatively, the name refers to a strong Chinese oolong tea served alongside soup in the belief that it cuts through the copious amount of fat consumed in this pork-filled dish.

It is believed to have originated from Fujian, China. However, the soup is widely consumed throughout Asia.

University of Adelaide professor and forensic expert Dr Roger Bayard has prepared four different soups, including those served in Adelaide restaurants, and added them to liver cancer cell cultures.

Use ingredients like dried hawthorn, goji berries, ginseng, bark, and dried mushrooms.

“When mixed with liver cells, the ingredients kill up to 83 percent in one concentrated soup formula,” Bayard said.

“For the first time, a lab study conducted by the University of Adelaide has shown that foods containing herbs, such as pak kut teh soup, may also be toxic to liver cells.”

He said warnings have been in place for some time to alert people that medications and herbal remedies may have harmful side effects that can include liver damage and even death.

Bak kut teh is a clear pepper soup that features pork ribs. (dehitfullplate.com)

Herbal medicine and COVID-19

Previously, Byard questioned recent studies on Chinese herbal remedies for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

In an editorial published in Forensic Science, Medicine & Pathology in 2021, Bayard and co-author Ian Musgrave said that while it is very likely that some traditional herbal preparations “may relieve symptoms” of infectious diseases such as muscle pain and fever, the evidence that Herbs can prevent infection “less convincing.”

However, the authors said they are not disregarding the herbal remedy altogether.

“This editorial in no way indicates that traditional herbal preparations may not have a role in treating symptoms of viral infections,” Bayard said.

“But instead, attention is drawn to the fact that herbal preparations sometimes carry serious side effects and can be amplified by the ingestion of multiple herbs and the concomitant use of Western medicines.”

He advised community members not to follow “unproven theories” of herbal remedies for COVID-19, especially when it comes to children who are more susceptible to side effects due to their immature metabolic pathways and physiological processes.

Bayard said that people with underlying liver disease or who are taking prescription medications should be warned about the potential side effects of liver damage.

He advised that “all such preparations should include careful labeling of the ingredients so that further studies can be conducted to identify specific toxic herbal substances.”

However, there have been several recent studies supporting the therapeutic effects of herbal medicines for COVID-19.

A paper published in 2021 reviewed studies exploring herbal preparations for the treatment of COVID-19 and found encouraging results in preventing and reducing symptoms.

The review found that ginger, lemon, orange, vitamin C, honey, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, lemon, and hot water with salt all significantly affected the management of COVID-19.

“Different herbal medicines can interfere with COVID-19 by inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 replication and entry into host cells,” the study said.

Researchers have also found successful parallel use with modern medicine and vaccines from India to Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia.

A university lecturer wants to bring ancient herbal remedies to clinics

Modern medicine places great emphasis on diseases, and medical students spend many years in school studying the body in diseased condition and the diseases themselves, while traditional and ancient medical practices, using food as medicine, are one of the mainstays.

Senior Lecturer in Pharmacology Kamal Dua from University of Technology, Sydney, is someone who focuses on blending modern medicine with traditional herbal medicine.

He said herbs and herbal remedies have been used in TCM and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years, yet they have not been widely used in clinics.

He’s designing a way to use nanoparticles to deliver berberine, a natural compound found in turmeric, barberry and red wine that has been shown to be effective in treating lung cancer. The new delivery aims to reduce the dosage and thus the side effects of the herbal supplement.

Turmeric is one of the world’s most thoroughly researched plants and a potential cause of sleepless nights for some pharmaceutical company executives. (stock struggle)

Questions about the safety of herbal medicine made in China

Another problem with traditional herbal medicine in the West is that many ingredients are imported from China.

Regulations in China are lax, and the communist regime regularly tries to cover up local food scandals.

Vegetables are no exception and are often loaded with chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and preservatives to give a healthy look.

While there’s no way to know if vegetables adulterated in China are those exported to the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspects less than three percent of imports for irregularities and deficiencies.

era era pictures
Chinese enforcement officers check dates on cans of powdered milk in a store on February 9, 2010, in Tongzi, southwest China’s Guizhou region. (AFP/Getty Images)

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