As more and more people worldwide begin using Chinese herbs, authentication of these herbs becomes an increasingly critical, international problem. Mistakes, misidentification, or willful deception can cause illness and even death. Questionable authenticity with regard to Chinese herbs arises for a number of historical, geographical and nomenclatural reasons, which will be described in this paper. The current situation in the Hong Kong market and some suggestions for alleviating the problem are also discussed.
At the beginning of the 1990s, there were repeated reports on cases of people in Europe experiencing detrimental side effects after taking slimming drugs with the Chinese herb Fang Ji (防己). The side effects included extensive and indirect nephrofibrosis, renal tubule atrophy and depletion, and renal failure.
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