Experts raise warnings against home-made animal and herbal spirits
  • | nld, | March 08, 2017 07:10 AM
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Many experts said people in Vietnam are facing health risks from using alcohol that have soaked animals or herbal roots.

Nguyen Ngu, chairman of the Oriental Medicine Association of Gia Lai Province, said people were soaking various kinds of things into liquor based on rumours. In most cases, soaking herbal medicines in liquor is not a good idea.

"Liquor is too toxic for the liver. If mixing it with another poisonous substance that is hard to dispose of then it'll be more harmful for the liver. People with good liver can drink herbal spirits, otherwise, you mustn't drink it," he said.

He went on to say that herbal medicines were often good for some organs but may have bad effect on others. For example, it's dangerous for people with heart disease to drink spirits that are made to improve kidney function.

A snake is prepared for snake wine

According to Ngu, people didn't soak animals in liquor in the right way. They remove the organs of the snake then directly put it into the liquor. However, it will only have the effect to ease the muscle aches if the snake has its skin removed, be soaked in ginger, fried then finally be soaked in liquor.

"Or else the spirits are just rotting liquid, it doesn't have any medical use," he said.

Nguyen Xuan Huong, former head of Vietnam Oriental Medicine Association said some sellers misunderstood or exaggerated the effects of spirits with soaked rare or endangered animals to trick consumers. For example, bear and tiger feet are said to be a generic nourishment for the body, not a holy medicine to restore youth or strengthen the body.

He also warned that the poppy flower spirit could cause addiction if drank too much. It's dangerous to use the whole flower and its body and leaves to make spirits to increase sex drive. The Poison Control Centre of Hanoi's Bach Mai Hospital received a patient poisoned by poppy flower spirit. She was later treated as a drug addict.

The animals and herbal medicines need to be processed correctly before it can be put into liquor. Dr Vu Truong Khanh from Gastroenterology Department, Bach Mai Hospital, said, "I had patients with damaged liver and kidney or yellow eyes or skin because of the spirits. Usually, it's very difficult to find the treatment for such patients because it's hard to find the cause of their illnesses."

In 2014, four people died in Lao Cao after drinking spirits with soaked herbal roots. Khanh also warned people against fake herbal medicines.

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