Possible Side Effects of Herbal Remedies - Consumer Justice Foundation

Possible Side Effects of Herbal Remedies

Written by Faith Anderson on August 11, 2011
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Common Herbal Products and Possible Side Effects

Some common herbal remedies used by consumers may carry serious side effects that many consumers are unaware of. St. John’s wort, for example, is a yellow flowering plant used for medical purposes as an herbal treatment for depression. Unfortunately, St. John’s wort may significantly reduce the effectiveness of contraceptive pills, and can also dangerously interfere with Warfarin, which is prescribed to treat blood clots.

Asian ginseng is a root which is believed to have several medical benefits, including improving immune system health and cardiovascular health, treating type 2 diabetes, improving mental performance and physical endurance, and relieving stress. Some people believe that Asian ginseng may even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, reduce the risk of some types of cancers, and relieve some of the symptoms of menopause. Unfortunately, new research indicates that this herbal product may actually be dangerous for diabetes patients.

Echinacea and gingko biloba are both flowering plants that are believed to have medicinal benefits for consumers. Gingko is mainly used in memory and concentration enhancement, although some people believe it may have benefits in treating mild to moderate dementia and treating Alzheimer’s disease. Echinacea is believed to have a number of medicinal benefits, ranging from treating the common cold to migraine headaches, and even urinary tract infections and vaginal yeast infections. Unfortunately, this new study warns consumers to watch out for unexpected allergic reactions when taking either of these herbal products.

Garlic is an extremely common food which is believed to have several medicinal uses, including treating the common cold and some forms of acne, promoting cardiovascular health, and preventing high cholesterol. Other possible medicinal benefits of garlic include its value as an antioxidant and an antibacterial, and it may also prevent blood clots. There may be dangerous side effects of using garlic as an herbal product however, including making the blood thinner and interfering with some medications prescribed to treat HIV.

Important Information for Consumers

Researchers involved in this study also tested different herbal products, many of which are available at leading health food stores. Upon investigation, they found 93% of products unlicensed. The remaining products were licensed and included a warning label dictating basic safety information. Many consumers may be unaware of the side effects potentially associated with certain herbal remedies and may therefore expose themselves to serious harm without their knowledge. Similar to pharmaceutical drugs, it is only by being adequately warned of the possible dangers of herbal products that consumers can make educated decisions about which products are safe for them to use and which aren’t. Unfortunately, without accurate side effect information, consumers may suffer from serious and even life-altering side effects of certain herbal products.

Posted Under: International
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