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Aristolochia spp.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • Acretoside, Akebia mu tong, alkaloids, allantoin, arillatose B, aristofolin-E, aristolactam Ia, aristoliukine-C, Aristolochia bracteata, Aristolochia chilensis, Aristolochia chuan mu tong, Aristolochia clematitis, Aristolochia constricta, Aristolochia contorta Bunge, Aristolochia cretica, Aristolochia cucurbitifolia Hayata, Aristolochia cymbifera, Aristolochia debilis, Aristolochia durior, Aristolochia fangchi, Aristolochia longa, Aristolochia gibertii, Aristolochia gigantean, Aristolochia grandiflora, Aristolochia guang fang ji, Aristolochia indica, Aristolochia kaempferi, Aristolochia kwangsiensis, Aristolochia macedonica, Aristolochia macroura, Aristolochia ma dou ling, Aristolochia manshuriensis, Aristolochia manshuriensis Kom, Aristolochia maurorum, Aristolochia qing mu xiang, Aristolochia rigida, Aristolochia taliscana, Aristolochia westlandi, Aristolochia xun gu feng, Aristolochiae Debilis fructus, Aristolochiae Debilis radix, Aristolochiae Mollissimae radix, Aristolochiae Mollissimae ramulus, Aristolochia paucinervis Pomel, Aristolochia rugosa, Aristolochia spp., Aristolochia taliscana, Aristolochia triangularis, Aristolochia trilobata, Aristolochiaceae (family), aristolochic acid, aristolochic acid A, aristolochic acid I, aristolochic acid-Ia methyl ester, aristolochic acid II, aristolochic acid-III methyl ester, aristolochic acid IVa, aristolochic acid VII, aristololactam IV, aristololactam IVa, aristolochic acid nephropathy, aristomanoside, aristo-red, austrobailignan-7, Balkan nephropathy, Belgian slimmers' disease, benzenoids, beta-sitosterol, biflavonoid, birthwort, cepharanone C, columbin, crystalline magnoflorine, daucosterol, dehydrooxoperezinone, demethylaristofolin E, Dutchman's pipe, Dutchmanspipe, eicosanic acid, endemic (Balkan) nephropathy, endemic nephropathy, eupomatenoid-7, fang chi, fangchinoline, flavonoids, fragransin E1, guaco (Mexican Spanish), guan fang ji (Chinese), guan mu tong (Chinese), herba Aristolochia Mollissemae, ishwarane, isoquinoline alkaloids, licarin A, licarin B, lignoids, linoleic acid, longdan xieganwan, madolin-P, magnoflorine, mu tong (Chinese), N-glycosyl lactam, nitrophenanthrene carboxylic acids, palmitic acid, phenanthrene derivatives, phenylpropanoid glucose esters, pinitol, protopine, raiz de guaco (Mexican Spanish), Saussurea mu xiang, snakeroot, sodium 3,4-dimethoxybenzoate, sodium 7-hydroxyl-8-methoxyaristolate, steroids, sterols, sitogluside, talaumidin, terpenes, tetrandrine, tubeflower.
  • Combination product examples: 707 Gastropathy Capsules, Chi Kuan Yen Wan, Guan Zin Su He Wan, Guanxin Suhe Jiaonang, Internal Dissolution Pills, Kuanhsin Suhowan, Mei Bou Gin Mei Yuen, Pilule Cortex Eucommiae Et Os Tigridis, Tienchi Hugu Wan, Tri-snakegall and Fritillary Powder, Zuo Gu Shen Jin Tong Wan.


  • Aristolochia spp. are found in diverse climates worldwide, but not in Australia. Because the aristolochic acid in Aristolochia spp. is known to cause kidney damage, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises consumers to immediately discontinue use of any botanical products containing aristolochic acid. Currently, Britain's Committee on Safety of Medicines prohibits Aristolochia spp. in all unlicensed medicines, and it may only be obtained by prescription from a licensed doctor or dentist.
  • In many areas, Aristolochia spp. are used in ethnomedicine for conditions such as cancer, wounds, and intestinal worms. Since the 1950s, some Aristolochia spp. have been used as substitutes in Chinese herbal medicine for certain Akebia spp., Saussurea (Auklandia) spp., Clematis spp., and Stephania tetrandra. In fact, when nine samples of fangji (Stephania tetrandra) were purchased from Hong Kong herbal shops and analyzed for aristolochic acids, all of the samples contained aristolochic acids. Stephania tetrandra does not contain aristolochic acids.
  • During 1990-1992, a Belgium clinic prescribed a Chinese herbal weight-loss remedy that substituted Aristolochia fangchi for Stephania tetrandra. Many of the patients developed a progressive kidney disorder called aristolochic acid nephropathy. Doses higher than 200 grams were linked to a higher risk of urinary tract cancer.
  • It is believed that the seeds of Aristolochia clematitis that have been accidentally harvested along with wheat from fields in Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Serbia may be the cause of endemic (Balkan) nephropathy and a high rate of endemic kidney failure in certain areas.


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The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.