David Kelsey Acupuncture
Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture and Herbs
An Integrated Approach

Questions about herbal medicine



I have heard that herbs can cause liver damage. Is this true?


In very rare cases patients can develop an allergic type of reaction to an ingredient in a Chinese or Japanese herbal formula, leading to symptoms of an adverse liver reation. If treatment is stopped as soon as such symptoms occur, there will be no lasting damage. This is a type of reaction that may occur with any medicine, including pharmaceutical drugs.

I have also heard that these herbs can lead to kidney damage. Is this true?


The cases of kidney damage that have been reported concern the use of plant species that belong to the genus Aristolochia, which contain aristoclochic acids and which are potentially toxic for the kidneys. The supply and use of any species of Aristolochia is now illegal in Britain, together with the use of non-aristocholic species that might be confused wth it.


How is the qualty of herbs controlled?

The need for herbal quality control has led to the formation of the Chinese Medicine Association of Suppiers (CMAS). The member companies of CMAS are committed to the provision of authenticated high quality herbs and herbal products. In addition, in order to further reassure the public, the RCHM has drawn up a set of rigourous standards for the suppliers of Chinese herbs - used as the basis of a list of RCHM Approved suppliers.


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Can the herbs contain steroids or other pharmaceutical drugs?

All RCHM practitioners have been alerted to the possible contamination of herbs with pharmaceutical agents and are strictly bound not to suply this type of product.


I am concerned about the use of endangered species

The RHCM has always condemed the illegal trade in endangered plant and animal species. Strict rules are in force to prohibit the use of any material of this description by RHCM members.


What if I am taking pharmaceutical drugs?

Herbal and drug treatments can be used at the same time and in most cases this does not present any problems. However, there are certain combinations of herbs and pharmaceutical products which are not advised and in all cases it is very important that you notify your practitioner about any medication you are taking.


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