Spike In Kidney Disease Cases: Herbal Drugs To Blame?

Many people use herbal medicines because of a number of health benefits. However, there can also be negative effects that may cause more harm than to treat conditions or diseases. 

In Kenya, health officials have been warning the public about the potential side effects of herbal medicines linked to the growing number of people with chronic kidney disease in the country. Researchers from the Ministry of Health said herbs potentially caused poisoning of kidneys in hundreds of patients, The Standard reported Monday.

A new government-backed study, published in Pan African Medical Journal, shows that 39 percent of new patients at the Kenyatta National Hospital have kidney problems. Researchers said chronic kidney disease affected four out of 10 inpatients. 

The patients came from 33 of the 47 counties across Kenya. There were 118 people who suffered from chronic kidney disease. 

This is not the first time public health officials associated herbal medicines with the sudden increase in medical problems in the country. In 2018, a report by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) showed that the majority of herbal drugs commercially available in major towns were highly contaminated.

Taking such medications can cause significant damage in the body. The toxic herbs were found in tablets, capsules, powders, oils and liquids.

“Patients are literally being infected with more dangerous diseases than they had intended to treat,” Lucia Keter, lead researcher from Kemri, said. 

Some of the widely available herbal medicines also contained germs that are resistant to different antibiotics. Researchers said these drugs can be purchased from local retailers, street vendors, herbal clinics, nutrition stores and herbal product manufacturers.

Another study in late 2018 found a higher number of people with cancer who used herbal medicines in Kenya.

“Of those who used complementary medicines, 64 percent used herbals hoping for a cure while 36 percent hoped to get some symptomatic relief,” Maryanne Ong’udi, a researcher from the University of Nairobi, said. 

Despite the growing evidence showing the negative effects of herbal drugs, officials fear the number of people using the drugs would still continue to increase. Researchers are calling on the government to launch campaigns to help inform communities about the issue. 

Herbal Medicines Many communities across the world use herbal treatments as part of their cultures, which provide both positive and negative effects. Pixabay