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Safety concerns of herbal products and traditional Chinese herbal medicines: Dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids and aristolochic acid
- Bryan L. Stegelmeier, Ammon W. Brown, Kevin D. Welch
- Journal of Applied Toxicology 2015 v.35 no.12 pp. 1433-1437
- Oriental traditional medicine, acids, carcinogens, dietary supplements, herbal medicines, history, industry, marketing, phytotoxins, poisoning, product safety, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, risk, toxicity, vegetable products, United States
- In many countries, including the United States, herbal supplements, tisanes and vegetable products, including traditional Chinese medicines, are largely unregulated and their content is not registered, monitored or verified. Consequently, potent plant toxins including dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids and other potential carcinogens can contaminate these products. As herbal and food supplement producers are left to their own means to determine the safety and purity of their products prior to marketing, disturbingly often good marketing practices currently in place are ignored and content is largely undocumented. Historical examples of poisoning and health issues relating to plant material containing dehydopyrrolizidine alkaloids and aristolochic acids were used as examples to demonstrate the risk and potential toxicity of herbal products, food supplements, or traditional medicines. More work is needed to educate consumers of the potential risk and require the industry to be more responsible to verify the content and insure the safety of their products.