Medical College of Wisconsin
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Fulminant liver failure due to usnic acid for weight loss. Am J Gastroenterol 2004 May;99(5):950-2



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-2942644826 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   106 Citations


The use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in developed countries has increased significantly over the years. Among the most popular are the weight loss supplements or "fat burners." Liver failure due to these popular remedies has been widely recognized. Usnic acid has been an ingredient of dietary supplements that cause liver failure. Its hepatotoxicity has not been recognized because it is usually mixed with other ingredients that are presumably hepatotoxic. We describe a case of a 28-yr-old woman who presented with fulminant liver failure requiring orthotopic liver transplantation, after taking pure usnic acid for weight loss. This is the first report on fulminant liver failure associated with the ingestion of pure usnic acid. A discussion about hepatotoxicity of the different compounds of dietary supplements is presented. This is a reminder for the clinicians about the potential side effects of CAM.

Author List

Durazo FA, Lassman C, Han SH, Saab S, Lee NP, Kawano M, Saggi B, Gordon S, Farmer DG, Yersiz H, Goldstein RL, Ghobrial M, Busuttil RW


Francisco A. Durazo MD Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Dietary Supplements
Follow-Up Studies
Liver Failure
Liver Transplantation
Risk Assessment
Weight Loss