Herbal Medications

Oriental Medicine has long been dependent on the use of herbal medications. When used correctly and by persons who educate themselves in their use they can be a great supplement to a healthy lifestyle. However they are not without their side effects and risks. 

Things to be aware of and research before taking herbal medications;

  • Where is the herbal medicine derived from? Are the plant derivatives or mineral derivatives.
  • What allergies do you have. Research if the plant derivative that they were extracted from will cross react with any allergies you may have to plants, trees, or foods.
  • What is the desired effect that you wish to achieve with herbal medications and what is the actual effect the drug has on the body.
  • Herbal medications can have unwanted effects on prescription medications that you are taking. They can increase or decrease the pharmacological activity of your prescription drugs. 
  • There have been Sixty five herbal remedies identified which interfere with platelet function, anti-coagulate, or coagulate blood. As a general rule any herbal supplement that starts with the letter “G” will alter platelet function and cause anti-coagulation both of which will increase bleeding. Along with the “G” herbals the most common herbal’s that do not start with the letter “G” and are involved in bleeding are Echinacea, St, John’s wort, Kava, Saw palmetto and Valerian. Note if you are having any medical procedure it is of the utmost importance to let your surgeon or health care provider know that you are taking herbal remedies. The surgeon may request that you stop taking the herbal substances for a period of time to decrease your risk of bleeding.
  • Some herbal remedies can also interact with medications which can alter your vital signs. Causing blood pressure and/or heart rate to drastically increase or decrease placing you in a life threatening situation. When having anesthesia for any type of procedure it is vitally important to inform the anesthesia team that you are taking herbal supplements for both the issues they create with bleeding and with alterations in vital signs. Again not informing the anesthesia team about the use of these medications could place you in a life threatening situation. 
  • Research the manufacturer. You want to obtain herbal medications from trusted sources.

Be aware that herbal medications are not regulated by the FDA. There are no guidelines for companies to follow as to what they can/or cannot put into herbal medications. They can have additives that you may not be aware of in the product. Herbal medication labeling is not regulated either. You may read the label which says that there is ten milligrams of the herbal medication in the vial, capsule or pill. Yet there may only be one milligram or twenty five. Even with the most trusted manufacture there is know way of being totally sure of what is in the product.

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