Ann Dermatol.  2019 Aug;31(4):414-419. 10.5021/ad.2019.31.4.414.

Quantitative Analysis of Metal Contents in Korean Herbs and Herbal Products to Give Advice for Metal Allergic Patient

  • 1Department of Dermatology, Ewha Womans University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Herbs have been used worldwide as complementary and alternative medicines. In Korea, herbs for medical purpose are strictly controlled by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA). But it does not provide standards for metal antigens.
This study conducted to identify the metal contents of Korean herbs and herbal products and to give information on counselling metal allergic patient.
The concentration of three metal allergens with high antigenicity, cobalt (Co), chromium (Cr), nickel (Ni) was quantitatively determined using inductively coupled plasma with a mass spectrometer after nitric acid (HNO₃) digestion. The herbal objects are as follows: 1) ten kinds of herb plants, 2) ten herbal products sold in Korean drugstores, and 3) ten herbal extracts prescribed by Korean herbal doctors.
In 30 samples, Ni and Cr were detected in all items. Co was not detected in two drugstore products.
Although the levels of metal detected in this study were very low relative to international guidelines and KFDA regulations, the herbal preparations contained similar or higher metal levels than known metal-rich foods. It can cause problems when it added to the daily diet and cause deterioration of skin lesions of metal sensitized person.


Complementary therapies; Dermatitis; contact; Herbal medicine; Metals
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