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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2019, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (5): 338-343.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2019.04.007

• Original Clinical Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Analysis of spontaneous adverse drug reactions to echinacea, valerian, black cohosh and ginkgo in Australia from 2000 to 2015

Claire L. Hobana, Roger W. Byardb, Ian F. Musgravea   

  1. a. Discipline of Pharmacology, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
    b. Discipline of Anatomy and Pathology, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
  • Received:2018-10-04 Online:2019-09-06 Published:2019-09-10

Objective
Assessing adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is a proven method to estimate the safety of medicines. The ADRs to herbal medicines in Australia (and by inference, the safety of herbal medicines in Australia) remain unknown. This study examines spontaneous ADR cases to four of the most popular herbs in Australia from 2000 to 2015: echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), black cohosh (Actaea racemosa) and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba).

Methods
ADRs of echinacea, valerian, black cohosh and ginkgo reported to the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) between 2000 and 2015 were obtained from the TGA database. Data were collated and analysed according to age, sex, severity, type of ADR and body system affected. Statistics were calculated using GraphPad Prism software.

Results
Most ADRs were mild or moderate. However, every herbal medicine was associated with life-threatening ADRs. In each life-threatening case, the herbal medicine was taken concomitantly with prescription medications. Black cohosh was associated with a significant number of severe ADRs (30.3% of the total), with 39.4% of these ADRs being associated with abnormal hepatic function, hepatitis or hepatotoxicity.

Conclusion
This study highlights the lack of public awareness with regard to herb–drug interactions, since most of the severe ADRs involved a herb–drug interaction.

Key words: Herbal medicine, Adverse drug reaction, Actaea racemosa, Echinacea purpurea, Ginkgo biloba, Valeriana officinalis

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