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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Poisonous Plant Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332400

Research Project: Understanding and Mitigating the Adverse Effects of Poisonous Plants on Livestock Production Systems

Location: Poisonous Plant Research

Title: Safety concerns of herbal products and traditional Chinese herbal medicines: Dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids and aristolochic acid

Author
item Stegelmeier, Bryan
item BROWN, AMMON - Us Army Research
item Welch, Kevin

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Toxicology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/8/2015
Publication Date: 12/1/2015
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5418161
Citation: Stegelmeier, B.L., Brown, A.W., Welch, K.D. 2015. Safety concerns of herbal products and traditional Chinese herbal medicines: Dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids and aristolochic acid. Journal of Applied Toxicology. 35(12):1433-1437. https://doi.org/10.1002/jat.3192.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jat.3192

Interpretive Summary: In many countries, including the United States, herbal supplements, tisanes and vegetable products, including traditional Chinese medicines, are largely unregulated and their content is not registered, monitored or verified. Consequently, potent plant toxins including dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids and other potential carcinogens can contaminate these products. As herbal and food supplement producers are left to their own means to determine the safety and purity of their products prior to marketing, disturbingly often good marketing practices currently in place are ignored and content is largely undocumented. Historical examples of poisoning and health issues relating to plant material containing dehydopyrrolizidine alkaloids and aristolochic acids were used as examples to demonstrate the risk and potential toxicity of herbal products, food supplements, or traditional medicines. More work is needed to educate consumers of the potential risk and require the industry to be more responsible to verify the content and insure the safety of their products.

Technical Abstract: In many countries, including the United States, herbal supplements, tisanes and vegetable products, including traditional Chinese medicines, are largely unregulated and their content is not registered, monitored or verified. Consequently, potent plant toxins including dehydropyrrolizidine alkaloids and other potential carcinogens can contaminate these products. As herbal and food supplement producers are left to their own means to determine the safety and purity of their products prior to marketing, disturbingly often good marketing practices currently in place are ignored and content is largely undocumented. Historical examples of poisoning and health issues relating to plant material containing dehydopyrrolizidine alkaloids and aristolochic acids were used as examples to demonstrate the risk and potential toxicity of herbal products, food supplements, or traditional medicines. More work is needed to educate consumers of the potential risk and require the industry to be more responsible to verify the content and insure the safety of their products.