Comparative study on the aristolochic acid I content of Herba Asari for safe use

Zhongzhen ZHAO*, Zhitao LIANG, Zhi Hong JIANG, Kelvin S Y LEUNG, Chi Leung Chan, Hon Yee Chan, Jaime Sin, Tim On Man, Kwok Wai Law

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Herba Asari (Xixin, Manchurian Wildginger, Asarum spp.) is a traditional Chinese medicinal herb commonly used as a crude drug and an ingredient in patent medicines. The herb contains aristolochic acid I (AA-I), which has recently caused several incidents of poisoning in Hong Kong. Therefore, the safe use of Asarum is questionable. The present study was undertaken to assess the levels of AA-I using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS) in different medicinal parts of Herba Asari and some proprietary Chinese medicines (PCM) containing it as an ingredient. The AA-I content in the aerial and root portions were compared, in the form of water and methanolic extracts. The results showed that all the aerial portions of Herba Asari generally contain higher levels of AA-I than the roots (in water extract: 0.08±0.06 μg/g of root and 0.32±0.021 μg/g of aerial), and the methanolic extracts typically contained more AA-I than the water extracts. Moreover, all the three PCM studies showed negligible amounts of AA-I (containing 0.03±0.006 μg/g). Therefore, the root portion of Herba Asari was recommended for prescription as a decoction instead of grinding it into powder for oral administration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-748
Number of pages8
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2008

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Aristolochia
  • Aristolochic acid I
  • Asarum
  • Herba Asari
  • Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry


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