Renal pharmacology

Kidney Function Restoration Program

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4.1.5.1 Belgian (Chinese herb) nephropathy

Several patients with renal failure were admitted to Brussels hospitals over recent years. The progressive interstitial fibrosis with tubular atrophy seen in these patients has been ascribed to the slimming therapy preceding the pathology. The progress and extent of nephropathy were extreme. The ingestion of Aristolochia fangchi instead of the prescribed Stephania tetrandra, one of the components of the slimming therapy, was advanced in literature as a hypothesis for the etiology of the nephropathies. Medicinal plants such as those suggested contain secondary metabolites (bis)-benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, dihydroxydiallyl biphenyls, and aristolochic acids with strong pharmacological (and possibly toxic) actions. The authors express concern that prohibiting (temporarily) the use of three Chinese herbs (Stephania tetrandara, Aristolochia fangchi and Magnolia officinalis) is not adequate for safety in responsible common health care (Violon, 1997; Schmeiser et al., 1996; Vanherweghem, 1994; Vanherweghem et al.,

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