Increased risk of chronic kidney disease among users of non-prescribed Chinese herbal medicine in Taiwan

Prev Med. 2012 Aug;55(2):155-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.06.003. Epub 2012 Jun 13.


Background: Taiwan has the highest incidence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) worldwide. Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) has been linked to CKD/ESRD in Taiwan. The specific effects and frequency of CHM on the risk of CKD are unknown.

Methods: A hospital-based case-control study was performed from August 2006 through December 2009. The cases were consecutive nephrology outpatients 20years of age or older, with a first-time diagnosis of CKD, and without cancer or pre-existing renal disease. The controls were randomly selected outpatients that did not have CKD and were matched 1:1 to cases for age, gender and date of outpatient visit.

Results: Four hundred and twenty-four patients were recruited. Among 212 cases, 23.6% took non-prescribed CHM, compared to 6.6% among the controls (p<0.001). Multivariate analysis showed that illiteracy [odds ratio (OR) 6.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.4-16.6], hypertension (OR 5.4, 95% CI 2.9-9.8) and occasional use of non-prescribed CHM (OR 6.2, 95% CI 1.8-21.6) were positively associated with CKD, whereas regular exercise was inversely associated with CKD (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.3-0.9).

Conclusion: Occasional use of non-prescribed CHM was associated with the risk of CKD in Taiwan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy*
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / chemically induced
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / chemically induced
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taiwan / epidemiology


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal