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Side Effects of Some Herbs  

by: Joe Hing Kwok Chu     看中文請按 各藥名聯線

For Latin botanical names and explanations , click on

the the individual herbs in Pinyin names.

Pinyin Names

Side Effects

ai ye



use caution in case of yin deficiency orheat in blood. The effective ingredient is the volatile oil and it is the toxic ingredient which can cause inflammation of the skin mucus. When taken orally can cause irritation of

the of the digestive tract. After absolving, it can arrive at the liver and can obstruct the metabolism of the liver  and can cause jaundice type of hepatitis. Its effect toward the central nervous system is prominent. In toxic reaction, the central nervous system becomes over active and can induce seizure. Because of the changes of the reflex of the nerves, it can damage the walls of  blood vessels and causes hyperemia (increase of blood flow to the part of body) of the uterus and causes bleeding. Toxic range is 20 ~ 30 g if taken orally.

bai bu


 low toxicity if eaten; may cause vomiting, diarrhea, excitement, delirium, and coma.

da hui xiang



side effects may include dizziness, vomiting, speech impairment, pale complexion, eye balls rolling back intermittently, spasm in limbs, neck arching backward symptoms of digestive systems and of the nervous system.


(ren shen)



Headache, insomnia, anxious, itchiness, hiccups,  blood pressure going up, pale, purple lips, spasm in the limbs, rapid breathing, heart exhaustion and even death has been reported. An ingredient, eleutherosides are related to digitalis glycosides, such as digoxin, and may have an additive effect with digoxin. The concurrent  use  of digitalis glycosides and ren shen (ginseng) may increase serum levels of digoxin and possible digitalis glycoside toxicity.

huang qin


may cause bleeding, contains blood thinning ingredients

li lu  

藜 蘆

Irritation of the mucus of the mouth, the nose and the eyes. Over dose my cause respiratory arrest.

ma bo

馬 勃

Allergic reaction: dizziness, throat feels swollen and obstructed, heaviness in chest, itchiness and rash.

ma qian zi


Toxic reaction: mild reactions include mild spasm in the limbs, drunken feeling, frighten. Nervous system symptoms include face, jaw, & back muscle spasm, opisthotonus, blue lips. Circulation system symptoms: : palpitation, blue lips, short of breath and heart failure.

ma sang

馬 桑

Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, salivating, whole body numbness, slow heart rate , increase of blood pressure and rate of breathing, reflexes become stronger,  spasm. If it is serious, the breathing become slower and may result in coma.

guan mu tong

木 通

The toxic variety is called guan mu tong.  95% of mu tong sold in China today,  is toxic. Acute kidney exhaustion: lack of urine, protein or blood in urine, hypertension, nausea, lack of appetite and itchiness. Drop in platelet count, bleeding, & anemic. Do not exceed established dosage of 3 to 6 g per day.

qing u xiang

青木 香

Allergic reaction: mild abdominal pain, itchiness, tightness in chest area, and diarrhea.

qian nian jian 千年健

Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, whole body spasm, foaming in the mouth, coma, opisthotonus.

san qi 三 七

 (tian qi) 田七

Face and eyes becomes red and swollen. Numbness in the limbs, dizziness, heaviness in the chest, palpitation, sweating, nausea, arrhythmia

shan ci gu

 山 慈姑

Frequent vomiting, intensive pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, bleeding of the

digestive tract, dehydration, acidosis, shock, anxious, coma, lack of urine.

It might cause death in serious cases

shan dou gen


Affects central nervous system and vegetation nervous system: headache,

nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, sweating, dropping of  blood pressure,

difficulty in breathing, anxious, delirium, spasm, coma, and death caused by breathing exhaustion

tian ma

天 麻

Allergic  reaction: rash,  or local or whole body swelling, nose bleeding, dry skin, and dizziness.

tian nan xing


Eating raw tian nan xing causes serious damage of mucus area, swollen tongue, numbness in mouth and tongue, and speech and memory impairment

wu jia pi


wu jia pi wine are often made with "northern wu jia pi" which is toxic. Toxic reaction: blindness, numbness in limbs, dizziness and headache

wu wei zi


  1. Toxic in stomach area: burning sensation in solar plexus area, lack of appetite.

  2. Allergic reaction: exanthema type of rash and itchiness.

  3. Toxic to the kidneys: large dosages or long term usage is toxic to the kidneys


Opisthotonus : a form of spasm in which head, neck and spine are arched backwards .

Exanthema: acute rash of young children. 幼兒急疹

See  herbs that can cause skin allergy. 按此看能致皮膚敏感的藥物。

Also see Toxicity of Herbs 按此看對腎臟有毒的藥物.

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Last update: Sept 21, 2013, 11 p.m. LAH