A News Focus article in Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6180.146 ) reports that the Balkan chronic kidney disease is caused by the weed Aristolochia clematis and its drug aristologic acid. The article is concerned that a chronic kidney disease in Central America which is thought to originate from herbicides or pesticides might be more broadly analysed.
The Balkan disease has a very particular geographic distribution: only in mountain valleys and small elevations. It was thought to originate from the kidney toxin ochratoxin A. The new data show that in specimen of tumours from there as well as from patients who suffered from a disease of A.clematis intoxication which is contain in some Chinese herbal medicine had aristologic acid-DNA complexes. Aristologic acid is now regarded as a tumour inducing drug.
My opinion on this that herbal medicine needs to be regarded with the same scientific zeal that is shown to its brothers in the “Schulmedizin”.