British newspapers reported that friends of actress Sophie Winkleman said she had taken “herbal valium aconite” before her marriage to Lord Freddie Windsor earlier this month. However the reports did not reveal whether the use was in the form of a homeopathic remedy.
MHRA said: “We are aware of recent media reports that a celebrity has taken aconite as a 'herbal valium'. Aconite (sometimes known as monkshood) is a poisonous plant, toxic to the heart, and has been associated with deaths and serious illness. This is a clear case where natural does not mean safe.”
However it stressed that there is no evidence of risk from the use of homoeopathic aconite products. These could be identified by a number on the product packaging prefixed with the letters 'HR' that indicate it is a registered product manufactured to assured standards of safety and quality, it said.
Aconite has been used as a homeopathic medicine for nerve pain, headache, rheumatism and to treat cold and flu symptoms. It may also be used to treat fever, severe anxiety, and nervous excitement.
However it is also very poisonous, with deaths having been reported from as little as two milligrams of pure Aconite or one gram of crude plant parts. There is no known antidote.