Effects of Herbal Supplements on the Kidney

Wendell Combest; Marian Newton; Austin Combest; June Hannay Kosier


Urol Nurs. 2005;25(5):381-386. 

In This Article

Herbal Products Adulterated With Drugsand Heavy Metals

There have been many reports especially of Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal products containing nephrotoxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic (Espinosa, Mann, & Bleasdell, 1995; Keen, Deacon, Delves, Moreton, & Frost, 1994; Wu, Hong, Lin, Yang, & Chien, 1996). To add to the complication, many heavy metals are considered medicinal in these medical systems but their presence in some imported formulations are not revealed on their labels. In addition some of these same herbal products contain pharmaceutical drugs. Formulations containing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may lead to renal failure via changes in intrarenal blood flow. Another example is a case where a Chinese herbal formula contained the drug phenylbutazone which caused analgesic nephropathy (Segasothy & Samad, 1991). The California Department of Health Services recently screened 260 imported Asian patent medicines and found that 83 contained undeclared drugs or heavy metals (Marcus & Grollman, 2002).


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