Herbal Supplements: What You Need to Know About Potentially Dangerous Herbs

Herbal supplements are widely used as medicines, but they are not regulated by the FDA like prescription and over-the-counter drugs. This means that some potentially dangerous herbs may be available without a prescription. Before taking any herb, it is important to research it and talk to your healthcare providers. Some herbs can cause liver and kidney damage, drug interactions, and other serious illnesses.

This article will discuss five herbs that carry risks that you may not be aware of: St. John's Wort, Kava, Comfrey, Chaparral, and Poleo. St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is often used to alleviate mild to moderate depression.

However, there is not enough evidence that it helps with major depression. It is important to note that depression should not be treated without help from a healthcare provider. Kava (Piper methysticum) may reduce anxiety and has worked as well as prescription anxiolytics for some people. However, it can take up to eight weeks for it to take effect.

In women who experience anxiety during menopause, kava has worked in just one week. Despite this, the National Institutes of Health and the FDA urge people not to take kava due to the risk of serious illness, liver damage, and death. Heavy consumption of kava has been linked to nerve damage and skin changes. Kava can worsen depression and is not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

It should also not be combined with alcohol or certain prescription drugs. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is easy to find despite the FDA's recommendation that manufacturers withdraw comfrey products from the market in 2001. Weil recommends applying comfrey to wounds that don't heal easily, such as open sores and diabetic ulcers. However, Pharmacopea advises against using comfrey on injured skin due to the risk of toxins being absorbed into the liver. Chaparral (Larrea tridentata) has been in the FDA's poisonous plant database since 1997 due to the risk of serious and irreversible liver damage. Poleo (Mentha pulegium) has not proven effective for any of the suggested uses and can cause death if taken in large doses. Before taking any herb, it is important to check the label for the common and Latin names of the plant and the part of the plant used.

Herbal supplements are more likely than other supplements to contain contaminants, so look for quality seals such as USP (U. S. Pharmacopoeia), NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), or CL (Consumer Lab). Opt for supplements made by big companies or manufacturers of drugs regulated by the FDA as they are more likely to meet quality standards.

It is also important to note that dietary supplements can interact with each other and with OTC and prescription drugs. In conclusion, some supplements can improve your health if used correctly, but others may be ineffective or even harmful. Before taking any herb, research it thoroughly and talk to your healthcare providers. Look for quality seals on supplements and opt for those made by big companies or manufacturers of drugs regulated by the FDA.

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