Should herbs take all the blame? Causality assessment of a serious thrombocytopenia event

Jung Nien Lai, Shu Ching Hsieh, Pau Chung Chen, Huey Jen Chen, Jung Der Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: With the increasing use of herbal medicines, the causality assessment of adverse drug-related reactions becomes more complicated because of the concomitant use of herbs and conventional medications. Epidemiological causal inference can be a central feature of such judgment but may be insufficient. Other scientific considerations include study design, bias, confounding, and measurement issues. The approach of this study is to establish an active safety surveillance system for finished herbal products (FHPs) and to review each adverse event regularly. Method: A single case of serious thrombocytopenia was found in 136 subjects taking FHPs on a clinical trial for 12 weeks, for which the cause was sought. Results: Because at the end of the first month the patient's platelet counts were normal and the thrombocytopenia developed after the co-medication with conventional drugs, it was suspected that the thrombocytopenia might not be attributed to the use of FHP. Conclusions: This report summarizes the criteria of causality assessment under mixed use of herbs and conventional medicine and recommends a feasible process for careful evaluation of adverse drug reactions related to all herbal medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1221-1224
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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