Anorectic sibutramine detected in a Chinese herbal drug for weight loss

Forensic Sci Int. 2006 Sep 12;161(2-3):221-2. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2006.02.052. Epub 2006 Jul 25.


In the presented case, a young healthy woman had ordered a Chinese herbal medicine, called "LiDa Dai Dai Hua Jiao Nang", via internet. She took this product for approximately 1 week, but on the second day she developed severe headache, vertigo and sensation of numbness. After discontinuing medication, symptoms disappeared within 2 days. For identification of the ingredients, a urine sample as well as a sample of the "LiDa" capsule were analysed by GC-MS and HPLC-DAD. One major ingredient was detected in urine as well as in the "LiDa" capsule and was identified as sibutramine. Quantification by HPLC-DAD yielded 27.4 mg sibutramine base, which is approximately two times the amount of the highest authorized single dose available on the pharmaceutical market in Germany. This case demonstrates a common problem with herbal medicines, where adulterations with synthetic therapeutic substances can lead to severe side effects and/or potentially fatal interactions with conventional medicines.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite Depressants / adverse effects
  • Appetite Depressants / analysis*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cyclobutanes / adverse effects
  • Cyclobutanes / analysis*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / adverse effects
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans


  • Appetite Depressants
  • Cyclobutanes
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • sibutramine