Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Chinese herb may cause cancer

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 17 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1623

Rapid Response:

Slimming preparation problems not aristolochia

Your article fails to consider the rest of the slimming cocktail,
assuming that the inadequately prepared aristolochia was the problem. The
problem was a potent slimming medication which is far removed from
traditional Chinese medicine in its preparation and constituents.
Further, while according to TCM differential diagnosis, each woman would
have received in individualized herbal preparation, the allopathic doctors
willy-nilly gave all patients the same potent mixture.

Consider this quote from the Australian Chinese Medicine Education
Research Council, issue 5 vol 4:

"the slimming cocktail [in Belgium] contained a mix of
amphetamines,tranquilizers, laxatives and diuretics as well as Chinese
herbs. It was even suggested that injections of serotonin-creatinin-
sulphate,which has a strong
nephrotoxic effect,were administered in the form of injections. Howerver
Guang Fang Ji alone was blamed for the toxic affects of the cocktail.

The herb was administered uncooked ,something that is never done with
toxic herbs such as guang fang ji. Furthermore he quotes Chris Daehens
(TCMnet,1/96)that in 1995 in Germany seven patients out of 700 died ,after
taking the
slimming cocktail as the Belgium one -BUT with the omission of the Chinese

Which isn't to suggest that aristolochia is benign, only that it
should not be misused or blamed alone in a guise to regulate herbs out of
even the practicioner's marketplace.

Karen Vaughan,AHG

Clinical Herbalist

Competing interests: No competing interests

19 June 2000
Karen Vaughan
Clinical Herbalist
Creation's Garden, NYC