Acute Hepatitis Due to Shen-Min: A Herbal Product Derived From Polygonum multiflorum

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Abstract

Shen-Min is a herbal product sold as a supplement for women to enhance hair growth. It is widely available across Asia, Europe, and the United States and sold without prescription as a hair nutritional supplement. We describe a case of acute liver injury in a 28-year-old white woman who developed symptomatic hepatitis 8 weeks after starting Shen-Min. All other potential causes of acute hepatitis including viral, hypoxic/ischemic, metabolic, and autoimmune etiologies were excluded. The liver injury slowly resolved over 3 weeks after discontinuing the herbal product. Although the mechanism of Shen-Min hepatotoxicity is unknown, we suspect an idiosyncratic reaction because the patient developed a fine maculopapular rash, mild eosinophilia, and did not overdose. Shen-Min is a Chinese herbal product with a mixture of several plants and vitamins including Polygonum multiflorum, a root that has been previously associated with hepatotoxicity. Nonetheless to our knowledge this is the first reported case of herbal-induced hepatotoxicity in a patient taking Shen-Min per se. Clinicians taking care of patients with acute hepatitis of unclear etiology should be aware that the consumption of Shen-Min, a hair supplement widely available in the United States and Western countries might cause acute hepatitis.

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