To the Editor:
The outbreak of Chinese-herb nephropathy in
It is clear from the Chinese National Pharmacopoeia that fang ji is the root of the S. tetrandra plant, whereas guang fang ji is from a totally different plant, A. fangchi. (1) Since fang ji does not have a renal toxic component, the tragedy would never have occurred if the correct herbs had been used in the Belgian dietary clinic.
Guang fang ji and related herbs have antiarthritis and diuretic effects and are often used together with other herbs to optimize efficacy and reduce toxicity. None of these herbs have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for weight control. They have a low level of toxicity and should be used with caution; they should never be used during pregnancy. The proper dose is 3 to 9 g of the decocted herb per day, and the herbs should be used for only a short period of time. The patient's renal function should also be monitored regularly. In the Belgian cases, the physicians apparently did not follow these guidelines of traditional medicine.
Yong Ming Li, M.D., Ph.D.,
1. Chinese national pharmacopoeia: color atlas of Chinese herbs.
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