A woman went to the ER with 'severe' abdominal pain and discovered herbal tea had damaged her liver
- A woman went to the ER with abdominal pain, and found out her herbal tea was toxic to her liver.
- The woman, 45, drank the tea daily for three days "to improve immunity" before she got the pain.
A woman who went to the emergency room with "severe" abdominal pain was told the herbal tea she had been drinking had damaged her liver, according to a report.
The unnamed woman, 45, drank the tea daily for three days to try to "improve immunity" before she experienced pain in her upper abdomen and felt nauseous, doctors wrote in a case report published on January 11 in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science.
Blood tests suggested that her liver was getting damaged, they said.
Herbal tea is a rare cause of liver disease
The doctors, who work in the US, said that herbal tea is a "rare" but "often overlooked" cause of liver disease. A 2015 survey suggests that more than a third of US adults use herbal supplements.
According to the report, the tea contained 23 ingredients including: reishi mushroom, aloe vera, and Siberian ginseng.
The woman fully recovered after she stopped drinking the tea
The woman was hospitalized for five days and stopped drinking the tea during her stay.
After three days, blood tests showed that her liver function had improved, and she no longer had symptoms. When she was discharged, the doctors told her not to start drinking the tea again.
After three months, the woman's liver blood tests were normal, the doctors said.
Herbal ingredients aren't regulated in the same way as other drugs
Herbal ingredients aren't regulated in the same way as medications, so research regarding side effects is generally lacking, the authors of the report said.
In terms of the ingredients in the woman's tea, the National Library of Medicine states that oral forms of aloe vera have been linked to a dozen cases of liver toxicity since 2005. Symptoms, like abdominal pain or yellow skin, have resolved on stopping the supplement and no-one has gotten sick or died, it states. Meanwhile, reishi mushrooms have caused liver damage in two people, according to research.
Clinicians publish case reports in scientific journals about unusual or rare things that happen to patients to inform their peers without needing to do comprehensive research, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
The doctors writing this report urged other clinicians to familiarize themselves with herbal supplements so they can speak to their patients and educate them on potential side effects.
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