Traditional medicine is being tested as a way to help drug addicts kick their habit, but approval for large-scale trials is still pending. Two people who took traditional mainland medicine called WeiniCom to break their heroin addiction suffered headaches and diarrhoea and were sent to hospitals last week. They were taking part in a pre-clinical study conducted by the Pui Hong Self-Help Association, which has tested the drug on 36 volunteer drug addicts referred by rehabilitation centres. 'We're still in the trial stage of using Chinese medicine for kicking drug addiction,' the association's founding president, Dr James Chien Ming-nin, said. 'We have to wait for government legislation for Chinese medicine before we can carry out a large-scale clinical study.' He said two-thirds of patients in the study had reduced their reliance on methadone and heroin. One patient said she successfully ended her two-year addiction to heroin in eight days. Another patient said the drug had reduced his reliance on methadone from 55mg to 5mg by the end of the four-week treatment. The drug was extracted from 19 Chinese medicines and developed by a manufacturer in Yunnan province. The Department of Health collected a sample of the drug from the association for laboratory tests and the results will be released next week. Some experts attending the Hong Kong and Mainland Conference on Drug Dependence at the Chinese University yesterday put their faith in the use of traditional medicine. 'Chinese medicine can effectively complement Western medicine in breaking drug addiction,' the director of the mainland's National Institute of Drug Dependence, Professor Zheng Jiwang, said.