In Africa, extracts from these plants are used to treat poisoning and snake bites.

In Africa, extracts from these plants are used to treat poisoning and snake bites.

In Africa, extracts from these plants are used to treat poisoning and snake bites.

For example, China annually produces tens of tons of various herbal supplements based on kirkazone, which are part of drugs for weight loss, treatment of arthritis, headaches, problems with the genitourinary system, and so on, and in addition, they are added to tea for preventive purposes.

Logically, the Chinese, as well as everyone who is addicted to Chinese drugs, should be extremely susceptible to aristolochic nephropathy. However, there are no statistics on kidney disease in China, quality medicine is not available to everyone, and the export of biological samples without government permission for research outside the country is severely punished. Therefore, it is difficult to understand how the fees containing Kirkazone affect the health of the Chinese, but it is possible, because there is a much more open Taiwan. Herbal supplements brought from the continent are widely used there, and until the mid-nineties, doctors prescribed to every third patient to take preparations of traditional Chinese medicine containing extracts of plants from the Kirkazone family.

In Taiwan, the corresponding research is being carried out. Professor Grolman’s group did this in 2011. The worst assumptions were confirmed: 60–84% of patients with cancer of the urinary system had aristolochian "marks" in the DNA of tumor cells, and in total, traces of Kirkazone consumption remained in the kidneys of every third resident of Taiwan. It is not surprising that the p53 protein gene in the kidney tumor tissue contained the same mutations as in patients from the Balkan countries. In a recent study, scientists from Arthur Grolman’s group, together with Dr. Bert Vogelstein (who, in fact, suggested that for the development of a tumor, an oncogene mutation must be accompanied by a mutation in a tumor suppressor gene) compared mutations in all genes of samples of similar tumors, as in patients who consumed kirkazon, and those who did not come across it, but smoked tobacco. The result turned out to be indicative: in the former, in the entire genome, mutations consisted mainly of the replacement of adenine by thymine, as in the gene encoding p53. And the second group, as a rule, had substitutions of guanine for cytosine, typical for smokers, while Kirkazone turned out to be more harmful than tobacco. Interestingly, in the kidney tissues of Taiwanese patients, the concentration of adducts in DNA was ten times higher than in the Balkans. Recall: in Taiwan, kirkazon was used as a medicine, so the patients received much higher doses than the Danube peasants with contaminated bread. Despite this, mutations in the p53 gene are very similar. The worst thing is that the occurrence of cancer due to mutations is a long-term business, the disease can develop even after thirty years. Therefore, in the coming decades, we should expect a serious surge in kidney disease in the Chinese. The fact that this process is already underway is evidenced by the rapid – threefold in thirty years – increase in the number of cases of cancer of the urinary system in Taiwan residents, while in the United States it remains unchanged.

In Taiwan, the incidence of upper urinary tract cancer has increased much more than in the United States over the past half century (Chung-Hsin Chen et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 2012, 109, 21, 8241-824)

To determine the incidence of aristolochian nephropathy in other Asian countries, Arthur Grolman’s lab is collaborating with doctors in South Korea, China and India to obtain DNA from patients with kidney disease and cancer. These samples will be analyzed for specific "Kirkazone" mutations and lesions. In addition, the scientists intend to develop methods for the early diagnosis of such nephropathy in order to prevent cancer by transplanting a donor kidney into the patient. Alas, it is still impossible to get rid of the changes inside the cells caused by the poisonous vine in any other way.

An open question remains about the fate of adherents of Chinese medicine, who can consume Kirkazone without even knowing it. It is interesting that when articles about the harmful effects of Kirkazone began to appear in the Indian press, the authorities responded: we do not have such a problem, because in Ayurveda all the negative properties of this plant are neutralized …

Kirkazon as medicine

After an incident in Belgium, the historical and modern aspects of the use of aristolochia came into focus. When analyzing bibliographic sources, it turned out that since ancient times, extracts of plants of this family have been treated all over the world: in North, South, Central America, Europe, Africa, India and China. The first mentions of kirkazone and its healing properties are found in ancient Greek philosophers. In various regions, traditional medicine has found a variety of uses for it. Most often this is the treatment of gastritis and diarrhea, obstetrics (among some peoples, Kirkazon was called “giving birth”). In Africa, extracts from these plants are used to treat poisoning and snake bites. Plants of the Kirkazonov family have been used as agents for preventing pregnancy, against parasites and infections, for treating diseases of the bladder and sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhea. In Europe, A. clematitis was called snake root and was used to treat eczema, abscesses, fungal infections and chronic skin diseases, and to stimulate the immune system. Do not forget that carefully controlled laboratory studies on various animals have shown the toxic effect of Kirkazone extracts, which may explain their antibacterial and antifungal activity. At the same time, the rest of the alleged therapeutic effects have not been experimentally confirmed.

Healing herbs have been close to man throughout his history, and possibly in prehistoric times. Many people believe that "natural remedies", as opposed to "chemistry", are safe. However, as experience with aristolochic acids and kirkazone shows, this is not always the case. Indeed, in some cases, they may contain useful biologically active components that help with certain health problems, however, the dose of such an active substance is not subject to medical control, and deadly side effects, especially those that appear long after taking the substance, impossible to predict without laboratory tests.

Kirkazon in the Chinese training camp

– Sign here, provide three witnesses there, then sign again and rewrite everything again,so that the hieroglyphs "qin" have thinner tails and bend to the left. It is possible with straight thick ones,but then, according to the new rules, it is no longer the hieroglyph "qin", but the hieroglyph "fu", and the paper no longer confirmsCheng Ankor’s ancestral property rights, and authorizes the aforementioned Cheng Ankor to commit an actpublic suicide by sawing the torso in half with a bamboo saw.

Henry Lyon Oldie. Path of the Sword


Have Chinese doctors for centuries poisoned their patients with a plant that destroys the kidneys, and no one doubted its benefits? Light on this dark problem is shed by Zhu Yuping of the Center for Chinese Medicine at the University of Groeningen (Netherlands), who published in the Advanced Drug Reactions Toxicological Review 2002 (21, 4, 171-177) the article “Toxicity of the Chinese herb mu-tong (Aristolochia manshuriensis), or What history tells us ”. Here is a summary of it.

In fact, since its inception, Chinese medicine has paid special attention to the safety of drugs and, if it has used poisonous plants, it has been used with reservations. For example, in the first Chinese treatise, Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (Classical Work on Medical Materials), written around 220 during the Han Dynasty, plants are divided into three groups according to the degree of danger. Mu-tun is absent among poisonous plants. However, this name first appears in the rare treatise of the Tang times "Yao Xing Lun" ("Properties of medical matter", 627), and in the main treatises of this time there is no such plant, but there is tong-tsao, the description of which is extremely reminiscent of mu-tong … Only in 1062, in the list of medicinal plants "Tu Jing Ben Cao" compiled by the decision of the Sung government (which is known to us in later lists), a reservation appeared: tung-tsao, mentioned in ancient scriptures, is now called mu-tun.

It is believed that these images of mu-tun from ancient Chinese treatises show akebiya (left) and clematis (right). From article Zhu YP

However, tong-tsao retained its name until the 16th century. However, in the treatise "Ben Cao Pin Hui Jing Yao" ("Essential in medical matter"; another official collection with color illustrations, prepared in 1505 during the Ming dynasty, and published two centuries later, already during the Manchu Qing dynasty) mu-tong and tong-cao are different plants. And in the treatise of the Ming era, 1596 – "Ben Cao Gang Mu" ("Compilation of Medical Matter"), these are synonyms.

What botanical species are hidden behind Chinese names? In the Tang treatises of the 7th century, several descriptions of tung-tsao were given. This is a vine with white juice, it twines around the trees. Each segment of its trunk has two or three branches, ending in five leaves. The fruit is 10–12 cm in size, the seeds are black and sweet in taste. The description in no way fits Kirkazon, this is another liana – five-leaved akebia Akebia quinata with purple flowers, in warm countries it is still used for decorative gardening.

In the XI century, the name mu-tun was already borne by three plants. In the treatises Tu Jing Ben Cao and Zheng Lei Ben Cao (Medical Matter Organized by Variety, 1107), three images of mu-tun are given. One of them is aquebia five-leafed, the other is a three-leafed akebia Akebia trifoliata, and the third is some kind of clematis, known to gardeners as clematis. However, until the end of the 16th century, akebia stems throughout the Middle Kingdom remain the main source of mu-tun herb. In the 19th century, clematis still supplants akebiya, this follows from the drawings given in the treatise "Zhi Wu Ming Shi Tu Kao" ("Atlas of Medicinal Plants", 1848).

But what about Kirkazon? When did it become a mu-tun plant in traditional harvests? The answer for admirers of gray-haired Chinese antiquity is surprising: only in the middle of the 20th century! So, an analysis of the drugs with mu-tun on the market in 1954 showed that under the name Guan-mu-tun there is a Manchurian Kirkazon, Aristolochia manshuriensis. In the south-west of the PRC, however, under the name Chuan-Mu-Tun, various types of clematis were still used, and in some areas, Mu-Tun (with the epithets ye, sanye or bai) remained akebiya. It is believed that the civil war and the Japanese occupation of North China in the 30s of the XX century contributed to the mass appearance of kirkazon in the collections, which made it difficult to access the original plants of the recipes. Why Kirkazon was chosen is difficult to say – either because of the similar sound of the names, or because of the similar appearance.

Thus, the master who compiles the collection according to the ancient recipes has such a wide freedom of action that it is not clear how he guarantees the result indicated in this recipe. There is an even greater variety of choices for a translator from ancient Chinese to modern, not to mention translations into European languages. And this is the case with many plants, let us recall at least another poisonous kirkazon – Aristolochia fangchi, also known as guan-fanji, which sounds almost like the name of the harmless stephanie han-fanji.

Now let’s look at a graph of the incidence of cancer of the urinary system in Taiwan. It can be seen that growth there begins in the 80s. We count back 30 years, which are needed for the consequences of mass consumption of Kirkazone preparations to manifest themselves, and we get the very 50s when Manchurian Kirkazon became the main mu-tun of the Chinese training camp. The coincidence looks very ominous.

Interestingly, this is the only example of a kind of reading of ancient Chinese treatises by modern herbalists, or are there others that have not received wide recognition? Moreover, when discussing herbal preparations of traditional medicine, the question arises: was the ancient doctor able to identify the delayed effects of herbal medicine? Indeed, for the development of the disease, as in the case of Kirkazon, it can take years, and only modern methods of biochemistry and epidemiology, combined with the energetic work of specialists, made it possible to establish how dangerous it was to replace one vine with another. It is possible that the same happens with other collections and medicinal food supplements that have not undergone thorough research, which is required by official medicine.

S. Anofeles

Fig. 1. Accumulation of mutations in the epithelium of the esophagus with aging. Above is a general diagram of the process. Mutations accumulate in the normal epithelium of the esophagus throughout life, but they do not necessarily cause cancer. Mutations occur due to natural causes – errors in DNA replication, as well as under the influence of external factors (alcohol, smoking, very hot food and drinks). Squamous cell carcinoma develops under the influence of additional factors (new mutations, weakness of the immune system, changes in the microenvironment, etc.). Esophageal lumen – the lumen of the esophagus, Mucous – the mucous membrane of the esophagus. Below are the stages of molecular evolution of the esophageal epithelium: a – young healthy people have few cells with cancer-associated mutations and their clones in the esophagus epithelium (green), b – elderly healthy people have much more mutant cells and their clones, c – additional mutations (here – the most common of them occurring in the TP53 gene) or external factors can lead to the emergence of a malignant tumor. Drawings from the synopsis for the articles under discussion

The process of accumulation of mutations in normal tissues of the body throughout life, as well as their relationship with the emergence of cancerous tumors, has not yet been sufficiently studied. Two groups of researchers from the United Kingdom and Japan conducted detailed analyzes of the structure of genes believed to be associated with cancer of the esophageal epithelium in people of different ages. The results of both works are in good agreement with each other. It turned out that due to natural errors during DNA replication in the tissues of the esophagus, more and more mutations arise with age, and even in healthy people, they were mainly concentrated in the most "oncogenic" genes. Apparently, malignant transformation did not occur due to the fact that the sets of mutations in healthy tissues are very different from the sets typical for cancer. The results obtained are only the first attempts to understand these processes.

Throughout the life of a multicellular organism, many of its cells have to divide: first, so that a full-fledged embryo with all the necessary tissues develops from a fertilized egg, then, after birth, tissues and organs must develop, and the adult body must maintain them in good condition. With each division, the DNA of the mother cell is transferred to the daughter cells. Ideally, each of them should receive one exact copy of all DNA molecules that the mother cell had. Doubling of DNA molecules occurs during the replication process.

The problem is that the systems of replication of the cellular genome can sometimes make mistakes, that is, change the sequence of DNA nucleotides.

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