Article Title

Authentication and differentiation of two easily confusable Chinese material medica: Herba Solani Lyrati and Herba Aristolochiae Mollissimae


As people now use Chinese herbs worldwide, authentication of Chinese herbs is becoming a critical, international issue because mistakes can cause illness and even death. Confusion in the names is one aspect of this problem; counterfeiting is another. One example of the former, which has had serious medical consequences, involves the common name "Bai Mao Teng". This name has been used for both Herba Solani Lyrati (Solanum lyratum Thumb.) and Herba Aristolochiae Mollissimae (Aristolochia mollissima Hance). Apparently, these herbs belong to two different families but look similar. While S. lyratum is not harmful, A. mollissima contains a toxic substance, aristolochic acid I (AA-I), that can cause kidney failure and cancer of the urinary tract when taken inappropriately. This paper describes a systematic study of one specific example of species confusion, namely the case of S. lyratum and A. mollissima. To differentiate the two species, authentication was performed based on four criteria: taxonomy, morphology, microscopic characteristics, and chemical analysis. The methods used clearly distinguish the two species, providing specific criteria by which samples of these herbs can be identified.

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