FDA Warns Consumers About Aristolochic Acid in Herbal Medicines
Herbal medicines are often taken by those who want to improve health using more natural methods than pharmaceuticals. Many have been used since ancient times, particularly in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). However, like drugs, herbal preparations also have risks as they can cause health problems rather than help. The FDA has recently updated a warning about the ingredient Aristolochic acid which has been shown can lead to kidney failure and upper urinary tract cancer.
The botanical Aristolochia spp and other plants in the Aristolochiaceae family contain Aristolochic acid which, in small amounts, could be used for years without any apparent adverse events. However, long-term use or high doses are potentially nephrotoxic (damaging to the kidneys) and the damage could be occurring without symptoms until the effects are serious and irreversible.