Are There Dangers In Herbal Remedies? Answer Revealed

First Posted: May 09, 2016 04:30 AM EDT

Researchers from Stony Brook University and Baylor College of Medicine highlight some dangers in the use of herbal remedies. They said that the long-term use of herbal remedies has no guarantee of safety.

Science Daily reports that the study was published in EMBO Reports. It was led by Dr. Arthur P. Grollman, the distinguished professor of pharmacological sciences at Stony Brook University and Dr. Donald M. Marcus, a professor emeritus of medicine and immunology at Baylor College of Medicine. They cited that not all herbs are benign and at times they are deadly.

The researchers analyzed the plant Aristolochia. It is considered a medicinal plant since the ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians and until the Early Modern era. It is also used as traditional Chinese medicine. This plant causes aristolochic acid nephropathy (AAN). This is a condition wherein you could experience renal failure, cancers of the urinary tract and intestinal nephritis.

In Taiwan, there were 8 million people exposed to herbals that contained Aristolochia, according to the national description database collected between 1997 and 2003. In the studies involving patients with renal failure and cancer in China and Taiwan showed that tens of millions of people in the said countries were at risk of AAN.

Furthermore, Marcus and Grollman stated that the recognition of Aristolochia profound carcinogenicity and toxicity in humans began in the early 1990s, when about 100 healthy Belgian women had acquired a chronic kidney disease that needed dialysis or renal transplantation, according to Discovery News.

So, if this plant is toxic, why was it that the dangers were not known earlier? Science Daily stated that almost all carcinogens and many toxins require a long period of time before the symptoms appear.

The authors said that other traditional medicines and herbals are responsible for harmful events in Asia and Africa. On the other hand, these cases lack epidemiological data.

They also emphasized that herbal remedies pose a global hazard. They persuaded the global health community to take actions that will assess short and long term safety. This includes the efficacy of botanical products produces in use.

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