Enforcement of the ban on aristolochic acids in Chinese traditional herbal preparations on the Dutch market

M.J. Martena, J.C.A. van der Wielen, L.F.J. van de Laak, E.J.M. Konings, H.N. de Groot, I.M.C.M. Rietjens

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44 Citations (Scopus)


In traditional chinese medicine several Aristolochia species are used. Aristolochia spp. contain a mixture of aristolochic acids (AAs), mainly AA I and AA II which are nephrotoxicants and carcinogens. After AA-related nephropathy (AAN) and urothelial cancer were described in female patients in Belgium following intake of AA-contaminated herbal preparations, herbs with AAs were prohibited worldwide. Confusing nomenclature can cause AA contamination of certain Chinese traditional herbal preparations (THPs). Here we report the results of investigations by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (VWA) into the presence of AAs in THPs sampled on the Dutch market using a liquid-chromatography¿-mass spectrometry method. Between 2002 and 2006 we sampled 190 Chinese THPs using recent information on Chinese THPs potentially containing AAs. AA I was found in 25 samples up to a concentration of 1,676 mg/kg. AA II was also found in 13 of these samples up to 444 mg/kg. All 25 positive samples including Mu Tong, Fang Ji, Tian Xian Teng and Xi Xin were part of a group of 68 THPs identified as possibly containing AAs. In a worst-case scenario, use of a sample of Mu Tong with the highest AA content over a 7-day period would result in the same intake levels of AAs which significantly raised the cancer risk in the Belgian AAN cases. Our results show that contaminated THPs still can be found on the market following worldwide publicity. Therefore, it can be concluded that testing of possibly AA-contaminated THPs is still essential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-275
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • dietary-supplements
  • materia-medica
  • hong-kong
  • nephropathy
  • fangchi
  • fibrosis
  • impact

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