Pancreatitis in a woman taking an herbal supplement

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Date: Jan. 2007
From: Southern Medical Journal(Vol. 100, Issue 1)
Publisher: Southern Medical Association
Document Type: Disease/Disorder overview
Length: 1,016 words
Lexile Measure: 1590L

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Abstract: A healthy woman developed pancreatitis after starting a popular herbal supplement designed to boost female libido. Following cessation of the herbal supplement, her enzymes quickly normalized. The patient had no risk factors for pancreatitis and anatomic obstruction was later ruled out. The contents of the supplement and their history of side effects are reviewed. As several of the ingredients are estrogenic in nature, this may have contributed to the patient's reaction. Physicians should remember to take a careful history regarding the usage of supplements and alternative medicines.

Key Words: herbal supplements, pancreatitis, herbal toxicity


Pancreatitis is usually caused by ingestion of a toxin such as alcohol or by mechanical obstruction, but there are very few documented cases of pancreatitis caused by an herbal supplement. We present the case of a woman who developed acute pancreatitis after a one week history of herbal supplementation with a product that claimed to enhance libido.

Case Report

A 28-year-old female presented to the emergency department complaining of gradually increasing right upper quadrant pain for two days. She did not relate it to meals, and had no nausea, diarrhea, or dysuria. She was in good health, did not drink, and had no evidence of an ongoing viral infection. She did smoke 1/2 pack of cigarettes per day and had been on Depo-Provera for the last two years. Upon further questioning, she shyly admitted starting a popular supplement a week earlier--Avlimil Proprietary Blend, which claims to enhance a woman's "libido, sexual feeling, and sexual response." (1)

Physical examination revealed...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A158957742