Chinese MedicineConsumer Alert

Digoxin-like toxicity cause by the Chinese herbal medicine, chan su

Ingestion of chan su, a Chinese topical anesthetic and purported aphrodisiac, can cause a dangerous reaction similar to digoxin toxicity.

Several years ago, the New York City Poison Control Center reported 4 men who died from abnormal heartbeats. Each person had measurable levels of “digoxin” in their blood. However, digoxin had not been prescribed for them.

It turns out, they were taking chan su, an aphrodisiac and sold under the name, dan chen, “Love Stone,” “Black Stone,” “Stone” and “Rock Hard.” Other aliases are listed in an earlier post.

Details and implications about the toxic reaction to chan su are discussed in an article I wrote several years ago.

10/1/06 11:57 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.