Review of Abnormal Laboratory Test Results and Toxic Effects Due to Use of Herbal Medicines

Amitava Dasgupta, PhD


Am J Clin Pathol. 2003;120(1) 

In This Article


Contrary to popular belief that natural is safe, herbal medicines can cause significant toxic effects and even death. St John's wort demonstrated significant and potentially dangerous drug interactions with several Western medicines. Several Chinese medicines such as Chan Su, Dan Shen, and ginseng can interfere with digoxin immunoassay results. Abnormal laboratory test results can be encountered in otherwise healthy patients who are taking herbal products. For example, elevated liver enzyme concentrations can be observed in people taking kava-kava. These abnormal laboratory tests in many cases are a reflection of the toxicity of herbs.


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