Tea not Tincture: Hepatotoxicity Associated with Rooibos Herbal Tea

ACG Case Rep J. 2013 Oct 8;1(1):58-60. doi: 10.14309/crj.2013.20. eCollection 2013 Oct.


A 52-year-old male presented with signs of acute hepatitis and liver failure. Laboratory investigations for common etiologies were unrevealing, but history suggested liver injury secondary to ingestion of a traditional South African herbal tea made with rooibos and buchu. Livery biopsy confirmed a toxin-mediated liver injury. The patient recovered liver function after stopping the herbal tea. Although hepatotoxicity associated with rooibos and buchu has rarely been reported, anecdotal correspondence with South African physicians confirmed suspected cases. Hepatotoxicity may be due to the heterogeneous composition of herbal teas due to small-batch manufacturing. Our case clearly outlines the need to suspect herbal causes of idiopathic liver injury.

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  • Case Reports