Kidney injury from alternative medicines
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Advances in chronic kidney disease
, p. 261-275
University of Antwerp
In the developing world, up to 80% of the population uses traditional medicine for primary health care. In industrialized countries, adaptations of traditional medicine, termed "complementary" or "alternative" medicine (CAM), are used by a growing number of patients for preventive or palliative care. However, alternative medicine (AM) may be an important risk for the development of acute and chronic kidney injury because of several factors: nonconventional preparations rarely meet the required essential standards of consistency in composition and biological activity; many of these products contain undisclosed over-the-counter or prescription drugs or can be adulterated with hormones and glandular extracts; herbal preparations can be contaminated by pesticides and heavy metals; and because of errors in plant identification and confusing terminology, opportunities for mistakes and deliberate substitution can occur. Furthermore, there is a lack of reports of adverse events and drug interactions because of a lack of professional surveillance, and specific data on systemic and kidney toxicity are not easily available. Kidney injury/kidney syndromes caused by AM consist of acute tubular necrosis/toxicity (eg, Fanconi's syndrome), acute interstitial nephritis, papillary necrosis, hypertension, kidney stones, urinary retention, chronic tubulointerstitial nephritis with fibrosis, urinary tract carcinoma, and acute rejection of the kidney transplant. To improve the care for patients using AM, extension of physicians' knowledge about its possible hazards and toxicity is essential. This review deals with acute and chronic kidney toxicity caused by animal-, plant-, and mineral-based, nonconventional medicine and kidney failure caused by drug interactions with AM. (c) 2005 by the National Kidney Foundation, Inc.