How safe are TCM herbs in Singapore, given that China TCM herbs are known to contain high levels of lead, metals and pesticides?

Doctor's Answers (3)

 

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to answer this question which I get very often in my practice.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is broadly classified into two types:

  • Medicinal materials (from plants, animals, or minerals in their natural states, or in processed forms that have undergone simple processing, such as trimming or desiccation.
  • Chinese proprietary medicine (CPM) (finished form such as capsule, tablets and granules).

Currently, only CPMs are subject to pre-market approval and licensing for their import and sale in Singapore. The next time you purchase a CPM product, you should look out for the following label:

TCM medication singapore

There are specific guidelines for traditional medicinal materials. According to the Health Science Authorities, (HSA) it is the responsibility of the dealer to ensure that:

(a)  The traditional medicinal materials do not contain any substances controlled under the Poisons Act and other prohibited substances such as Pangamic acid including its salts, Danthron, Suprofen including its salts and Rhodamine B.

(b)  The heavy metal contents of the traditional medicinal materials do not exceed the following limits: Arsenic (5 ppm), Copper (150 ppm), Lead (20 ppm) and Mercury (0.5 ppm).

(c)  The labels and packaging materials of the traditional medicinal materials (if any) do not stipulate any of the 19 diseases/conditions specified in the Schedule of the Medicines (Advertisement and Sale) Act, namely, blindness, cancer, cataract, drug addiction, deafness, diabetes, epilepsy or fits, hypertension, insanity, kidney diseases, leprosy, menstrual disorders, paralysis, tuberculosis, sexual function, infertility, impotency, frigidity, conception and pregnancy.

I hope you feel more assured and confident in TCM products used in Singapore.

With regards,
Physician Lee

Hi!


I believe Physician Lee Jin Shun has explained clearly the HSA requirements for CPM to be imported for resale in Singapore. The country of production of the medicines can also come from Taiwan, Hong Kong just to name a few. It can also be produced in Singapore. 

All CPM, before being approved by HSA to hold their approval label, will have to be laboratory tested at HSA-approved laboratories for safety levels, chemicals and other restricted substances as determined by HSA. The definition by HSA also ensures that CPM should not contain western medicinal ingredients such as steroids and NSAIDs etc as it will fall into another category. 

To be very sure, you can also check if the CPM you have bought has been approved on their website.  


Cheers
Victoria

Traditional Chinese medicines are broadly classified into two types:

I) Medicinal materials (from plants, animals, or minerals in their natural states, or in processed forms that have undergone simple processing, such as trimming or desiccation.

II) Chinese proprietary medicine (CPM) (finished form such as capsule, tablets and granules). As of now, only CPMs are subject to pre-market approval and licensing for their import and sale in Singapore. 

I have attached the links on HSA regulatory framework on medicinal materials and CPMs for the ease of your reading.

Guidelines for Traditional Medicinal Materials: 

http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/hsa/en/Health_Products_Regulation/Complementary_Health_Products/Guidelines_for_Traditional_Medicinal_Materials.html

Regulatory framework pertaining to CPM:

http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/hsa/en/Health_Products_Regulation/Complementary_Health_Products/Chinese_Proprietary_Medicines.html