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Daihuang ©Erich Stöger

Aristolochia Nephropathy

from: Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akupunktur 43(2000), 187-197
Axel Wiebrecht

Abstract

The possible harmful effects of traditional Chinese remedies to the kidney have attained broader public attention in Germany due to publications in the Deutsches Aerzteblatt and the SPIEGEL magazine and their subsequent echo in various papers and announcements. These reports revealed a strange mixture of truth, hoaxes, confusions, misinterpretations and ignorance. The present article suggests that the tragic cases of terminal kidney failure following a Belgian weight reduction program can not simply be attributed to Chinese herbs, even if they are involved. On the other hand it will be argued that Aristolochia species applied in the context of Traditional Chinese Medicine can cause severe nephropathy. The widely used term "Chinese herb nephropathy (CHN)" makes no sense as nephropathy is not a special characteristic of Chinese herbs, but one of aristolochic acid and Aristolochia species containing this substance, which appears in China as well as in Western and other countries. An estimate pertaining to France calculated a frequency of two cases of nephropathy in 1000 patients treated with remedies containing aristolochic acid. In the meantime similar reports have emerged in many countries.

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