What You Should Know About Herbal Health Products
Arenít herbal health
products safe because they are natural?
Donít think that herbal health products are safe just because they
come from plants. Even some plants are poisonous. Although herbal
products are advertised as ďnaturalĒ they are not natural to the
human body. Unlike prescription medications, herbal products do
not have to be tested to prove that they work well and are safe
before they are sold. In addition, herbal products may not be pure.
They might have other things in them, like plant pollen, that could
make you sick.
Do any medical problems
make it more dangerous to take herbal health products?
Yes. It may not be safe to take herbal medicines if you have certain
health problems. Talk to your physician if you have had any of these
problems at some time in the past:
- High blood pressure
- Thyroid problems
- Psychiatric problems
- Parkinsons' Disease
- Enlarged prostate gland
- Blood clotting problems
- Heart disease
What are possible side
effects of herbal health products?
Herbal health products are not tested to be sure they are safe,
so they may cause problems. Be sure to tell your physician if you
get a health problem while you are taking an herbal product. If
you are taking ginkgo biloba, you may have bleeding as a side effect.
St. Johnís Wort can cause an upset stomach, a tired feeling, dizziness,
confusion, or dry mouth. You may also get sunburn more easily. If
you are taking any ephedra product, also called mah huang, you could
have many problems. You could have high blood pressure, or an uneven
heartbeat. You may feel nervous, have headaches, or have trouble
falling asleep. You could even have a heart attack or stroke. If
you take kava products you may feel sleepy, get a rash, or have
strange movements of your mouth and tongue or other parts of your
Can herbal products change
the way prescription medicines work?
Yes. Some medicines should not be taken with herbal products. For
instance, do not take ginkgo biloba if you are taking aspirin, Ticlopidine
(brand name Ticlid), Clopidogrel (brand name Plavix) or Dipyridamole
(brand name Persantine). Do not take St. Johnís Wort if you are
taking an antidepressant. Do not take ephedra if you are taking
a decongestant or a stimulant drug, or if you drink caffeinated
beverages. Do not take kava products if you are taking benzodiazepine
(a barbiturate), an antipsychotic medicine, or any medicine used
to treat Parkinsons' Disease. Also, do not drink alcohol if you
take kava products.
This being said, it is further recommended that all patients supplement
a good broad-spectrum multivitamin/multimineral to their regular