Quantitative and structural analyses of hazardous elements in Chinese medicines and herbs

Etsuko Furuta, Nobuaki Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Thirty samples of Chinese medicines and herbs were analyzed using instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) methods, mainly noting on the hazardous elements arsenic (As), mercury (Hg), chromium, antimony and cobalt. The three Niuhuang Jiedu Pian samples contained 8.6%, 8.3% and 2.2% As. Two out of four Liushen Wan samples contained approximately7% of both As and Hg. Despite being identically named, the other two Liushen Wan samples did not contain such high concentrations. Japanese Liushen Wan for children contained 1.2 ± 0.03% As and 31 ± 12 mg/kg Hg, whereas Liushen Wan for adults manufactured by another Japanese company contained 550 ± 22 mg/kg As and 1.2 ± 0.05 mg/kg Hg. All the chemical structural formulas of As and Hg in the high-concentration Niuhuang Jiedu Pian and Liushen Wan were realgar (As4S4), uzonite (As4S5) and cinnabar (HgS). Although the human body is generally not believed to absorb sulphides, continuous intake of these Chinese medicines is potentially no good because it is possible that some arsenic-sulfides will dissolve in gastric acid and then alter their chemical structures. Additionally, many herbs contained low concentrations of Hg, and their chemical structures were unknown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)814-827
Number of pages14
JournalToxicological and Environmental Chemistry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Aug 8


  • Arsenic (As)
  • Chinese medicine
  • Hazardous elements
  • Herb
  • INAA
  • Mercury (Hg)
  • XRD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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