A UK court this week heard the case of a woman who developed kidney failure after taking Chinese herbal medicine containing the plant extract aristolochia.
A report from PA News said that the woman started to feel unwell in December 2001 after taking Chinese treatments for almost three years in a bid to combat a skin condition. She was finally diagnosed with advanced renal failure and now needs regular dialysis treatment.
The news comes days after a US researcher reported that the herbal, which is banned in several countries for causing kidney failure and cancer, is readily available from numerous websites.
The court heard that the woman had been given the treatments between October 1999 and February 2001, despite Aristolochia being banned from medication by emergency legislation in July 1999 over fears it could cause renal failure.
Herbal products containing Aristolochia species were banned in Germany 20 years ago, and they are also banned in Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand. Two years ago the US Food & Drug Administration also banned the import of such products.
The sale of banned supplements through the Internet poses a growing threat to the dietary supplements industry, damaging its reputation among legislators and consumers.