Tag Archives: Aristolochia

Dangers in herbal medicine (continued) — DNA sequencing to hunt illegal ingredients

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Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA.

In continuation to last week’s post about the dangers of consuming aristolochic acid, I will add a bit more review on why Aristolochia plants are sometimes misidentified in Chinese medicine. Also, to commemorate DNA day this coming Wednesday, I will discuss the power of DNA sequencing in identifying ingredients, in this particular case, inside Chinese medicine.

(Do you know why April 25th is DNA day? In 1953, this was the day when the structure of DNA was published in the journal Nature.)

Aristolochic acid is a carcinogen (cancer-causing agent) contained in some species of Aristolochia plants. These plants were commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine as anti-inflammatory or diuretic agents until their toxicity became known. Continue reading –>


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Dangers in herbal medicine — the link between Aristolochia plants and urinary tract cancer

***This blog has moved to a new location. Visit the new site for more posts and updates! (http://www.SomethingAboutScience.com)***

Traditional Chinese medicine market

Traditional Chinese remedies have been used in Asia for several thousand years, and they have become popular in other parts of the world in the recent years, where the remedies are being used in conjunction with Western medications. However, some traditional Chinese medicines are now known to contain toxins and may cause serious health issues. One example is the case of herbal medicine made from Aristolochia plants.

Some Aristolochia plants contain toxic substance called aristolochic acid. The plants have been widely used in traditional herbal medicines, such as Mutong and Fangchi. However, aristolochic acid is now known to cause kidney failure and urinary tract cancer, and it has been classified as carcinogen since 2002. Continue reading –>


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