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Am J Kidney Dis. 2002 Mar;39(3):E13.

Herbal remedy-associated acute renal failure secondary to Cape aloes.

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Department of Renal Medicine, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto, South Africa.


Use of traditional herbal remedies is common in Africa, and many patients who visit traditional healers do not need to resort to Western medicine. Acute renal failure is one of the most serious complications resulting from the use of traditional remedies, however, which accounts for 35% of all cases of acute renal failure in Africa. Traditional remedies rarely have been analyzed, and little is known about their nephrotoxicity. We report a case of a 47-year-old man from Soweto, South Africa, who developed acute oliguric renal failure and liver dysfunction after ingestion of an herbal remedy. The patient's renal function recovered slowly, and dialysis was discontinued after several weeks, although serum creatinine did not return to the normal range. Mass spectrometric and chromatographic analysis of the herbal remedy used by the patient revealed the presence of Cape aloes, a previously described nephrotoxin.

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