A new study says that the herbal remedies you’re using may have serious interactions with conventional medications. One of the worst offenders? The popular herb St. John’s Wort, commonly used to help with depression and anxiety. It’s been documented to interact with no less than 147 different medications!
According to Canada’s Globe and Mail, magnesium, calcium, iron and ginkgo biloba are also offenders. They interact with 102, 75, 71 and 51 different drugs, respectively. Interactions with other substances in the body can both lessen or heighten a medication’s effects. As the Globe and Mail reported, “Of the 1,490 interactions captured in the study, researchers identified that 17 per cent posed a major health risk, such as excessive bleeding, a hypertensive crisis or potential coma.”
Simon Pickard, a co-author of the study, said that drug interactions with herbal remedies and dietary supplements are “tremendously underreported.” Pickard participated in the study with Hsiang-Wen Lin at the China Medical University’s College of Pharmacy in Taiwan. The study used data from clinical trials, observational studies and review literature to evaluate interactions and contraindications of herbal remedies and conventional medications.
The study looked closely at remedies that are commonly associated with certain health conditions, especially ones that were previously documented to be harmful. For example, flaxseed is known to be harmful for people with gastrointestinal disorders, prostate cancer and high triglyceride levels.
Pickard says that people who have cancer or other diseases might turn to herbal remedies because they’re “desperate for a solution.” He urges people who take supplements of any kind to be upfront with their healthcare providers, especially people with life-threatening diseases. While herbal remedies can be helpful and beneficial, they can also have affects that you might not be anticipating or expecting.
I’ll admit it: I love herbal remedies. But I don’t take any other medications other than hormonal birth control, so I hope I’m in the clear when I pop my echinachea and elderberry immune tonic. That said, I haven’t ever discussed the supplements I take with any professional other than the people at the health food store. How about you? Do you discuss the supplements and remedies you take with your doctor or pharmacist?