The use of herbal medicines has been linked to an increasing number of Kenyans suffering from chronic kidney disease (CNI).
Following this association, researchers from the Ministry of Health want to inform the public about the dangers of using herbal medicines.
A study of 306 patients with various complaints at Kenyatta National Hospital suggests that up to 39 percent may unknowingly have kidney problems.
"This health-care-based study found that there was a high incidence of CNI in inpatients with a prevalence of approximately 4 in 10 inpatients," the study published in Pan African Medical Journal on August 23.
The study was conducted by a team from the Ministry of Health, Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi University in Eldoret.
The study patients were from 33 of the 47 Kenyan districts, 1
Some of the predisposing factors are age, men, anemia (red blood cell deficiency), high blood pressure, bloody urine, and alcohol or tobacco use.
Possible mechanisms by which herbal medicines lead to CNI are, according to the study, the direct poisoning of the kidneys by poisonous herbs and the use of contaminated or adulterated medicines.
The authors say that herbal remedies can also lead to CNI if improperly used or prepared, or if they interact with other medicines.
Last year, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) reported that most of the herbal medicines sold in major cities in Kenya are severely contaminated and dangerous for human consumption.
The Nairobi, Mombasa and Eldoret survey found that almost all herbal powders, tablets, capsules, oils and liquids are contaminated, some with non-treatable germs that are resistant to a range of antibiotics.
"Patients are literally infected with more dangerous diseases than they wanted to treat," said lead investigator Dr. Lucia Keter of Kemri at a scientific conference reports.
Test samples were purchased from herbal clinics, nutrition stores, herbal product manufacturers, local retailers, and dealers and street vendors in the three cities.
The study found that 90 percent of the total samples are contaminated.
In October 2018, a team of conventional researchers reported that cancer patients visiting Kenyatta National Hospital are taking complementary medicines on a significant scale.
"Of those who used free medication, 64 percent hoped for a cure with herbs, while 36 percent hoped for symptomatic relief," says the study by Maryanne Ong'udi of the University of Nairobi
"Informing the public about the dangers of herbal medicines should be done at national level, highlighting the link with the diagnosis of CNI," the new study recommends.
It is estimated that more than two-thirds of Kenyans rely on herbal medicine to ensure their primary care.
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Chronic kidney disease Kenyatta National Hospital