View Full Version : Have Chinese Herbs Been Tested For Safety?

05-26-2001, 03:31 AM
Contamination of Chinese Herbs

A Chinese herb used for weight loss in Belgium in the early 1990s has been associated with kidney failure and subsequent development of kidney cancer. Because of a "manufacturing error," one of the herbs in the weight loss pills was replaced with Aristolochia fangchi, which is known to be toxic. While it is not known how many people used this preparation, more than 100 developed kidney problems and 43 had total kidney failure. Kidney problems in people treated with this herb were so severe that physicians recommended prophylactic removal of their kidneys. Of 39 who agreed to that procedure, 18 already had cancer. HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Reports from five other countries describe kidney failure in people taking Chinese herbs. It is almost impossible to know what you are getting when you purchase an herbal product. The Chinese government has made some attempts to clean up the herbal industry in that country, which they admit sells products that are untested for safety or effectiveness, but there are minimal controls in place.

How can you find out if a particular herbal product has been tested for saftey?


05-26-2001, 06:41 AM
The bottom line is Chinese Herbs are almost never, medically, (that I know of) used individually but in a formula with numerous other herbs. In the west we have this mentality that this herb is good for this ailment and that herb is good for that ailment but in Chinese Medicine, again, numerous herbs are composed in a formula based on a diagnosis of the persons current body state. Personally, I never use patent medicines anyway as they are, again, generic but go to a doctor of Chinese Medicine for a diagnosis and a prescription. This is changed weekly as my body condition and environmental conditions change. Herbal treatment is very difficult even for a doctor of Chinese Medicine. I have found few who could do it well. So how can a person with no experience just pick an herb off the shelf and know it's good for them?

There is no spoon. "The Matrix"
There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. "The Matrix"

05-26-2001, 02:57 PM
Chinese herb products like the one you mentioned are probably no more or no less susceptible to manufacturing error than standard western pharmaceuticals.

Traditional herbal formulas have been used with varying degrees of success for hundreds if not thousands of years.

You have no chance to survive - make your time.

11-10-2001, 07:01 AM
I remember reading a newpaper article some years ago about a guy who visited a herbalist for a minor ailment and ended up being rushed to hospital for open heart surgery when he reacted badly to the herbs.

It is true that western doctors cause accidental deaths, too, but they are subject to much stricter regulation than are alternative health professionals. Caveat emptor in both cases.

Kung Lek
11-10-2001, 09:04 PM
It is my experience that you must be VERY CAREFUL about what you put into yourself. Herbal tcm or western.

Even safe generic medicines from the west can cause damage to you dependent upon your lifetsyle.

Of course there has been reems of research on the efficacy of herbals remedies and there are many western drug treatments that work on acute symptoms.

But often times, there are problems. There are plenty of people out there "experimenting" with concotions, deconcoctions, teas and draughts and all the rest that comes with TCM and Holistic healing.

Anyway, bottom line is that you can still be open minded and very careful at the same time.

In regards to taking herbs on someone elses advice be it a doctor (PHD) or a general practitioner (MD) or pharmacist, be aware of everything they have given you by personal testing with small amounts.

Anyone who is not certified through an accredited institution according to the laws of your country should not be distributing any substances whatsoever.

There are plenty of Chinetown apothecaries that are also charlatans and not experienced.

To date, there is little evidence from a scientific viewpoint regarding the efficacy of more than 90% of the so called remedies prescribed by holistic healers.

In time, more will be known. In the immediate present, be very very careful about what you put into yourself, you could easily exascerbate any problem you currently have.

As for acupuncture, that is a wholly seperate thing and actually can be self administered safely with a fundamental understanding of it and gains are obvious. The same goes for various massgae therapies.

Chemically changing yourself with herbs and drugs can be quite dangerous.


Kung Lek

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