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Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Dec;30(12):2023-6. doi: 10.1177/0960327111407224. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Causes and prevention of herb-induced aconite poisonings in Asia.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong, China.


The recent reports from Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Korea were reviewed to determine the causes and prospects for prevention of herb-induced aconite poisonings. The contributory factors included overdose (use of greater than the recommended doses), faulty processing (after harvest and during decoction), use of tincture (herbal medicinal wine), use of crude aconite roots (for preparing decoction, proprietary medicines and tincture), lack of standardisation in processing of aconite roots and preparation of tincture and proprietary medicines, unsupervised use of aconite roots and contamination or mix-up with aconite roots. As tincture (herbal medicinal wine) made from aconite roots contains a much larger amount of Aconitum alkaloids, the public should be strongly discouraged from making their own and taking it by mouth. Aconite roots should only be used after post-harvest processing and proper decoction. The public should be educated on the hazards from unsupervised use and improper decoction of processed aconite roots. There should be regular publicity measures to promote awareness among the herbalists and to publicise the risk of serious cardiotoxicity if the recommended doses of processed aconite roots are exceeded. The processing of aconite roots and their proprietary preparations should be standardised. Quality control of processed aconite roots and their proprietary preparations should be strengthened. National reporting or monitoring systems can be used to identify the causes of aconite poisonings and assess the impact of preventive measures.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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