High level of creatinine? These 2 herbal supplements can be the reason for it

A nephrologist on X shared that in his experience for the first time he had witnessed a maximum level of creatinine in a woman's sample.

BySumit Jha

Published Feb 12, 2024 | 8:00 AMUpdated Feb 12, 2024 | 8:00 AM

High level of creatinine? These 2 herbal supplements can be the reason for it

Creatinine is a waste product that comes from the digestion of protein in the food and the normal breakdown of muscle tissue, and is removed from the blood through the kidneys. It indicates how healthily the kidney is functioning.

Recently, a nephrologist shared on X (formerly Twitter) that he had come across a level of creatinine that was the maximum he had ever seen. It was in a woman’s sample, he said.

“Highest creatinine (35.62mg/dL) I have ever seen. 25 year female no PMH(past medical history) and no baseline Cr(a baseline serum creatinine). No drug use [sic],” shared nephrologist Dr Naveen PG Ravikumar on X.

A creatinine test measures the level of creatinine in the blood or urine to evaluate how well the kidneys are functioning. Normal results for a blood creatinine test are 0.7 to 1.3 mg/dL for men and 0.6 to 1.1 mg/dL for women.

High creatinine levels can indicate a possible kidney problem, while low levels can be caused by factors such as a vegan or vegetarian diet, low muscle mass, pregnancy, or severe liver disease, none of which was there in the case of this woman.

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The reason?

The nephrologist shared that the woman used two organic supplements daily for two months — Stomach Chi and DGL.

Stomach Chi is an herbal supplement designed to support digestive health. The product is marketed to address various digestive issues such as heartburn, gas, bloating, and indigestion.

The supplement is suggested to promote digestive strength and help with stomach discomfort and irritation caused by different factors, including malabsorption, stomach pains, food sensitivity, or emotional distress.

“These are not ‘organic’ supplements, but herbal supplements. Stomach Chi is a blend of 11 Traditional Chinese Herbs including Pinellia (root), Poria (fruiting body), Asian Ginseng (root), Atractylodes (root), Ginger (root), Magnolia (bark), Saussurea (root), Chinese Cardamom (seed), Tangerine (aged peel), Perilla (leaf), and whole Licorice (root),” said Haematologist Dr Cyriac Abby Philips on X.

DGL stands for deglycyrrhizinated liquorice, which is a form of liquorice that has been processed to remove glycyrrhizin, a compound that can cause adverse effects.

DGL is commonly used as a natural remedy to alleviate symptoms of acid reflux, such as heartburn and indigestion. It is believed to support digestive health and function, and its use is associated with soothing digestive relief.

DGL is available in various forms, including chewable tablets, and is often used as an alternative therapy to help ease acid reflux symptoms.

“DGL is deglycyrrhizinated liquorice in which the glycyrrhizin has been removed as it can cause elevations in blood pressure,” said Philips.

Also read: Doctor warns against kidney damage from Covid-19

The issue with herbal supplements

Stomach Chi and DGL. (Amazon.in)

Philips explained that apart from direct kidney toxicity, most of these herbal supplements are either adulterated or contaminated with heavy metals, especially mercury.

This can cause membranous nephropathy in NELL-1 positive individuals, he said.

“I strongly suggest that the herbal products be retreived from the patient and undergo inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry(ICP-MS) testing and quantification for heavy metals and also qualitative analysis to identify potentially added synthetic/prescription drugs such as NSAIDs, antimicrobials and other kidney toxic compounds [sic],” recommended Philips.