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Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 227 (2008) 125 – 135

Risks and benefits of commonly used herbal medicines in Mexico
Lourdes Rodriguez-Fragoso a,⁎, Jorge Reyes-Esparza a , Scott W. Burchiel b,⁎, Dea Herrera-Ruiz a , Eliseo Torres c
c a Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos, Facultad de Farmacia, Cuernavaca,Mexico The University of New Mexico, College of Pharmacy Toxicology Program, Albuquerque, NM, USA The University of New Mexico, Department of Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies, Albuquerque, NM, USA b

Received 10 August 2007; revised 29 September 2007; accepted 4 October 2007 Available online 12 October 2007

Abstract In Mexico, local empirical knowledge about medicinal properties ofplants is the basis for their use as home remedies. It is generally accepted by many people in Mexico and elsewhere in the world that beneficial medicinal effects can be obtained by ingesting plant products. In this review, we focus on the potential pharmacologic bases for herbal plant efficacy, but we also raise concerns about the safety of these agents, which have not been fully assessed.Although numerous randomized clinical trials of herbal medicines have been published and systematic reviews and metaanalyses of these studies are available, generalizations about the efficacy and safety of herbal medicines are clearly not possible. Recent publications have also highlighted the unintended consequences of herbal product use, including morbidity and mortality. It has been found that manyphytochemicals have pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic interactions with drugs. The present review is limited to some herbal medicines that are native or cultivated in Mexico and that have significant use. We discuss the cultural uses, phytochemistry, pharmacological, and toxicological properties of the following plant species: nopal (Opuntia ficus), peppermint (Mentha piperita), chaparral (Larreadivaricata), dandlion (Taraxacum officinale), mullein (Verbascum densiflorum), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), nettle or stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), linden flower (Tilia europea), and aloe (Aloe vera). We conclude that our knowledge of the therapeutic benefits and risks of some herbal medicines used in Mexico is still limited and efforts to elucidatethem should be intensified. © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Mexico; Herbal medicine; Pharmacognosy; Ethnopharmacy; Risk of phytomedicine

Introduction The clinical pharmacologic interest in the efficacy and safety of herbal remedies has grown during past years because of the realization that many people self-medicate using these agents. There is a limited knowledge for healthcare workers (such as doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and social workers) about the pharmacology and toxicology for the most commonly used herbal remedies in their patients. Here we review some of the most widely used Mexican and Mexican American herbal remedies to give medical practitioners some ideas of the pos⁎ Corresponding authors. S.W. Burchiel is to be contacted at fax: +1 505 272 0704. L.Rodríguez-Fragoso, fax: +1 52 777 329 7089. E-mail addresses:, (L. Rodriguez-Fragoso), sburchiel@salud.unm.du (S.W. Burchiel). 0041-008X/$ - see front matter © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.taap.2007.10.005

sible pharmacological and physiological effects, potential side effects, and drug interactions for common herbalmedicines used by their patients. We also examine the literature on the safety of these agents to raise a warning flag whenever potential hazardous risks are possible. Although many scientific articles have been published on natural products and their diverse effects, each plant species has several different natural constituents, the great majority of which have not been studied. The present review is...
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