Article Title

Subacute toxicity of 15 commonly used Chinese drugs (II)


As befitting the esoteric designation of "the art of healing", traditionally the development of professional acumen in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine relies heavily on years of accumulated clinical observations. The shortcomings are the relative lack of hard evidence, systemic documentation and uniformity in interpretation, which result in the unfortunate aura of mystique and reluctance in general acceptance. Relatively little is known about the toxicological profiles of the 400-commonly-used Chinese medicinal drugs listed in the" Standard of Chinese Drugs, ROC". The present projected, entitled" the evaluation of the subacute toxicity of commonly used Chinese medicinal drugs", of which the present report was a part, was initiated to provide experimental evidence to support or refute vague claims in traditional Chinese pharmacopocias and reference for future studies. The subacute toxicological and behavioral effects of 50% ethanol crude extracts of the following traditional Chinese medicinal drugs administered in single dosage (5,10 g/kg, p.o., per day for 14 days) were quantitatively evaluated : 1. Cheqianze 2. Digupi 3. Filling 4. Houpo 5. Madouling 6. Mutong 7. Niuxi 8. Qingxiangzi 9. Qianhu 10. Shandougen 11. Tainnanxing 12. Weilingxian 13. Xiakucao 14. Xianmao and 15. Xinyi, respectively. The maximal tolerable doses ranging from 1/10 to 1/5 of LD50 were used as the reference dosages in the subacute experiments. The following results were found : the whole body nutrient standard reference values such as plasma total protein, or serum albumin content were affected by Cheqianze, Madouling, Niuxi, Qingxiangzi, Shandougen, & Xianmao. The reference standard for protein catabolism such as BUN was affected by Digupi, Fuling, Houpo, Qianhu, Shandougen, Tiannanxing, Xiakucao, and Xinyi. The liver standard functional test such as SGPT showed changes elicited by Cheqianze, Houpo , Mutong, Niuxi, Tainnanxing, Weilingxian, Xiakucao, and Xianmao. The kidney standard functional test such as creatinine were affected by Cheqinze, Houpo, and Madouling. Pathological references standards of tissue such as the net tissue weight or water content of heart, liver, lung or kidney after post-mortem examination were affected by Cheqianze, Digupi, Fuling, Madouling, Mutong, Qingxiangzi, Qianhu, Shandougen, Tainnanxing, Weilingxian, Xiakucao, Xianmao, and Xinyi. Hematological assessment showed that total WBC counts were affected by Digupi, Madouling, Mutong, Qingxiangzi, Weilingxian, and Xinyi. In behavioral toxicological evaluations, it was found that Cheqianze, Fuling, Niuxi, Qingxiangzi, Shandougen, & Tiannanxing, & Xianmao elicited a moderate to marked degree of inhibition, while Qianhu, & Xiakucao elicited moderate degree of stimulation on the locomotor activity when compared with control group. No evidence of any irreversible visible pathological damage or mortality attributable to any of the test drugs occurred during the experimental period of 15 days. It is anticipated that these retrospective studies on subacute toxicity will provide reliable toxicological profiles of those Chinese drugs approved by the National Health Insurance Program in R. O. C.

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