Dangers of Herbal Remedies
Last Edited: April 2nd, 2012

Today, an increasing number of Americans routinely rely on herbal products for preventive and therapeutic purposes. Unfortunately, the manufacturers of these products have much less strict regulations placed on them by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In fact, they are not required to provide proof of their efficacy and safety before marketing their product. Consequently, the information regarding the adverse effects and drug interactions associated with herbal remedies is scarce or at least not nearly as comprehensive as it is for prescription medication.

Below is a list of some of the common and oftentimes dangerous herbal remedies:

St. John's Wort: Used to treat depression, this herb should not be taken with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, migraine medications or tricylcic antidepressants.

Ginkgo biloba, which has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine, is primarily taken in the West to support memory. But the herb should not be taken by those who also take anti-coagulants or diabetes medication. Gingko has also been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce fertility in men and women.

Echinacea is often taken to prevent the common cold, but it has also been shown to aggravate allergies and in post-operative individuals, may actually suppress the immune system. The herb should be used with caution by patients with liver dysfunction because of concerns that it can cause liver toxicity.

Since so much is still unknown about the safety of herbal remedies, always consult with your doctor before taking anything that he or she didn't prescribe.

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