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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 804086, 9 pages
Review Article

Underestimating the Toxicological Challenges Associated with the Use of Herbal Medicinal Products in Developing Countries

Department of Health Sciences, Faculty of Science and ANDI Centre of Excellence for Biomedical and Biomaterials Research, University of Mauritius, Reduit, Mauritius

Received 30 April 2013; Accepted 20 August 2013

Academic Editor: Brad Upham

Copyright © 2013 Vidushi S. Neergheen-Bhujun. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Various reports suggest a high contemporaneous prevalence of herb-drug use in both developed and developing countries. The World Health Organisation indicates that 80% of the Asian and African populations rely on traditional medicine as the primary method for their health care needs. Since time immemorial and despite the beneficial and traditional roles of herbs in different communities, the toxicity and herb-drug interactions that emanate from this practice have led to severe adverse effects and fatalities. As a result of the perception that herbal medicinal products have low risk, consumers usually disregard any association between their use and any adverse reactions hence leading to underreporting of adverse reactions. This is particularly common in developing countries and has led to a paucity of scientific data regarding the toxicity and interactions of locally used traditional herbal medicine. Other factors like general lack of compositional and toxicological information of herbs and poor quality of adverse reaction case reports present hurdles which are highly underestimated by the population in the developing world. This review paper addresses these toxicological challenges and calls for natural health product regulations as well as for protocols and guidance documents on safety and toxicity testing of herbal medicinal products.