EDUCATE YOURSELF BEFORE TAKING HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS

Educate Yourself Before Taking Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements are easily available in market. They are also commonly known as botanicals. As more and more people consume over the counter botanical supplements to boost health, there is also a growing concern about people consuming these supplements without knowing the side effects or risk these herbal supplements can cause when you are particularly on certain medications.  According to National Institute of Health and article published by pharmacy times people who have following conditions should be careful or avoid or must inform their doctors before consuming any herbal supplements.

  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • An enlarged prostate gland
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Immune system disorders
  • Thyroid problems
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • History of liver or kidney problems
  • History of stroke

Before taking herbal supplements do your homework and find out

  1. Is it okay to use or is it safe?
  2. Does it really work for me?
  3. What dosage works?
  4. What part of the plant works? (root, stem, leaf)
  5. Am I allergic to any of the chemical constituent of that particular herb?

Natural does not mean always safe:

  • Research has confirmed health benefits of some dietary supplements but not others.
  • Talk to your health care team. Tell all of those involved in your health care — physical and mental health — that you’re considering taking an herbal supplement.
  • Get a quality product. Check the label for the plant’s common and Latin names and the plant part used,. If it is the root that is effective, you will not benefit from tablets made from the stem.
  • Check the seal: Before buying supplement check the resource and FDA website for more information. Herbals are the most likely of all supplements to contain contaminants. The three major quality seals are the USP seal (US Pharmacopeia), the NSF seal (National Sanitation Foundation), and the CL seal, issued by Cooperman’s Consumer Lab. Each of these seals indicates that the product ingredients match the label and that if there are contaminants present, they do not exceed safe levels.
  • A suggestion is major store brands or manufacturers of FDA-regulated drugs are the most likely to adhere to quality standards.
  • Test tablets – they should dissolve in water in 45 minutes as it is in your body. If not, there may be high contamination or some malfunctioning in the product.
  • For your safety, read and follow the label instructions, and remember that “natural” does not always mean “safe.” One herbal supplement may contain dozens of compounds and that all of its ingredients may not be known.

Herbal supplements and possible risks:

  1. Echinacea: Beautiful herb known to fight common cold and viral infections

 Risk: May reduce the effectiveness of drugs including breast cancer.

  1. Lavender: Lavender oil is so popular because of its soothing fragrance. It helps in anxiety, depression, Insomnia, pain and spasms

 Risk: May enhance the effects of sedatives and increase risk of bleeding with anticoagulants

  1. Alfalafa: Alfalfa is in use to heal burns and cold sores. It aids colitis and diabetes treatment

    Risk: May interfere with contraceptives and hormonal therapy

  1. Garlic: Cloves of garlic is gaining more and more popularity for its help in various conditions. Garlic oil reduces cold, cloves  taken empty stomach every morning helps in weight reduction by acting on fat. It also aids the treatment of high cholesterol and high blood pressure

Risk: May interfere with absorption of medications and require insulin dosage adjustment

  1. John’s wort: St. John’s wort has been in use to relieve  depression fatigue, insomnia and pain

 Risk: May reduce effectiveness of HIV/AIDS drugs and anti-rejection drugs, contraceptives

6. Turmeric: Turmeric is very popular and is in use from many centuries in Ayurveda. Curcumin content of the turmeric makes it a wonderful herb and it is known to prevent cancer, treat infections and reduce body inflammation.

Risk: Turmeric may lessen the effect of blood pressure medication and inhibit effectiveness of     some cancer drugs.

  1. Kava: Kava (Piper methysticum) can reduce anxiety, and for some it has worked as well as prescription anti-anxiety drugs.

Risk: The National Institutes of Health and the FDA urge people not to take kava because of the   risk of serious illness, liver damage, and death even when taken for only a short time at normal doses.  Kava can worsen depression and is not safe for women who are pregnant or breast-  feeding. Because the herb has effects similar to those of alcohol, the two should not be combined.

  1. Comfrey: Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) has a well-deserved reputation for healing injured tissues, such as wounds, bruises, sprains, bone fractures, and the swelling and inflammation.

Risk: Experts caution that comfrey should never be taken by mouth. The FDA recommended in    2001 that manufacturers remove comfrey products from the market. Still, comfrey is easy to  find.  The U.S. Pharmacopeia, advises against using comfrey on broken skin, as the toxins that may affect the liver can be absorbed.

  1. Chaparral :Chaparral (Larrea divaricata, Larrea tridentata) is said to reduce pain, inflammation, and skin irritation. Chaparral has been promoted as a cancer-fighting herb, but according to the American Cancer Society, there is no evidence supporting that, either.

 Risk: Easily found online in many forms, chaparral has been listed in the FDA’s poisonous plant    database since 1997 because of the risk of severe — and in some cases, irreversible — liver   damage.

 1o. Ginkgo biloba:  Ginkgo leaf is often taken by mouth for memory disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. It is also used for conditions that seem to be due to reduced blood flow in the brain, especially in older people.

Risk: Possible Risk of Increased Bleeding (Especially with Surgery)

11. Ginseng: Both Asian and American ginsengs (Panax ginseng and quinquefolius) are very popular. Asian ginseng is popular in use to boost immune system and American ginseng to control cold.

Risk:  Anorexia, headache, change in blood pressure and bleeding.

References:

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