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Guide to Herbal Supplements

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  • One other contraindication that I just discovered. St. John's Wort can make contraceptives less effective. This is stated on the patient information insert of Nuva Ring.
  • Herbal supplements can be very effective in managing and treating a variety of diseases. However, they should be treated as any other drug. With caution, and do not take anything without educating yourself first.
  • It's just like any other issue, everyone has an opinion.
    On the subject of herbal medicines. It is wise to consult a herbal medical practitioner or doctor of Natural medicine, if in any doubt. There are very few harmful properties, and certainly many less than in allopathic drugs., but there are some. A practitioner can keep you right on this score. Please, do not pick herbs yourself from hedgerows, as many dangerous plants look very similar to very safe ones. The herbs used by practitioners have been grown under glass in very hygienic conditions., and the tablet forms are manufactured under very strict guidelines. The very best of health to you all. (I am a Herbalist and a Doctor of Natural Medicine, and have been for the last 30 years)
    Thanks for the warning but I think its pharmaceticals we should be concerned about!
    Almost sounds like the article is steering people away from herbal supplements that have an extremely high safety history compared to pharmaceuticals!
    The regulations for supplements vary from country to country, in Australia we have extremely high standards set by the government. I do believe the majority of supplement companies have the consumers health at heart, despite a few being pulled up by the FDA for having tainted products. So despite what you may read on the label a product may in fact contain a restricted drug! This has been the case a number of times as the FDA tested a whole array of weight loss products to find they contained strong stimulants and diuretics that we not listed on the label.

    This obviously comes back to a quality control issue in the end and applying a stricter testing policy before products are released to the market. This is what we have in place in Australia.

    So in the end it's not the herbal ingredients you have to worry about its the unlisted pharmaceuticals that some unscrupulous companies sneak in to enhance the effect of their product!

    Pure herbal medicine is one of the safest means to optimizing your health and does in fact have an extremely good track record.
  • I do use natural remedies in tea form, but I agree that it's important to know the company marketing the herb and to tell one's doctor all medications one's taking, including herbs. A few years ago, my 70-something year old father started acting very bizarre, to the point that my siblings and I were worried about dementia. My youngest brother, who's a nurse, visited my dad's apartment and discovered that Dad had started taking herbal supplements without notifying his doctor. To make a long story short, one of the supplements was interacting with one of Dad's prescription meds and causing the strange behavior. Once that supplement was discontinued, Dad was back to normal. Moral of the story: tell your herbalist what prescriptions you take, and tell your doctor what herbal supplements you take.
  • I take valarian for sleep, all the time. I would not take it any other time. But it does enhance my sleep. Appreciate this work up on herbs.
  • Thanks for the great information. It is easy to understand.
  • I totally agree with CRANBYRRE and RMARYT. God gave us what we need on this earth. To comment on RMARYT, I did not know those statistics. Wow! Now if we just ate naturally like God intented! LOL
  • Excellent article. Most herbal supplement users are unaware of possible drug interactions and side effects. There are population groups who should not use these supplements at all. A doctor's recommendation should be obtained for anyone on medication or with special health concerns. I do know that Registered Dieticians and Lactation Consultants often recommend Fenugreek (which will make you smell like maple syrup BTW) and Blessed Thistle to increase milk production.
    All this warning about herbal meds!! 200 THOUSAND people die each year from drugs prescribed by doctors, under a doctors care, while only about 200 (NOT 200 thousand, just 200) die from herbal overdose!!
  • All medicine can be dangerous, even herbs. But they are still better for your body than the chemicals that are produced today. IMHO

    I believe that God put herbs on earth for us to be able to doctor ourselves. He certainly didn't put pharmaceutical companies here. The FDA, doctors etc have tried for years to be able to regulate herbs which they can't do because it's a "natural plant" Europe regulates, I believe. Think of the money they'd, government and pharmaceutical companies, get if they could get a hold of herbs! Of coarse you'd still be able to buy it across the counter at the local store in Mexico.

    Some Modern Medicines derived from plants:

    Drug/Chemical Action/Clinical Use Plant Source
    Acetyldigoxin Cardiotonic Digitalis lanata
    Adoniside Cardiotonic Adonis vernalis
    Aescin Anti-inflammatory Aesculus hippocastanum
    Aesculetin Anti-dysentery Frazinus rhychophylla
    Agrimophol Anthelmintic Agrimonia supatoria
    Ajmalicine Circulatory Disorders Rauvolfia sepentina
    Allantoin Vulnerary Several plants
    Allyl isothiocyanate Rubefacient Brassica nigra
    Anabesine Skeletal muscle relaxant Anabasis sphylla
    Andrographolide Baccillary dysentery Andrographis paniculata
    Anisodamine Anticholinergic Anisodus tanguticus
    Anisodine Anticholinergic Anisodus tanguticus
    Arecoline Anthelmintic Areca catechu
    Asiaticoside Vulnerary Centella asiatica
    Atropine Anticholinergic Atropa belladonna
    Benzyl benzoate Scabicide Several plants
    Berberine Bacillary dysentery Berberis vulgaris
    Bergenin Antitussive Ardisia japonica
    Betulinic acid Anticancerous Betula alba
    Borneol Antipyretic, analgesic, antiinflammatory Several plants
    Bromelain Anti-inflammatory, proteolytic Ananas comosus
    Caffeine CNS stimulant Camellia sinensis
    Camphor Rubefacient Cinnamomum camphora
    Camptothecin Anticancerous Camptotheca acuminata
    (+)-Catechin Haemostatic Potentilla fragarioides
    Chymopapain Proteolytic, mucolytic Carica papaya
    Cissampeline Skeletal muscle relaxant Cissampelos pareira
    Cocaine Local anaesthetic Erythroxylum coca
    Codeine Analgesic, antitussive Papaver somniferum
    Colchiceine amide Antitumor agent Colchicum autumnale
    Colchicine Antitumor agent, anti-gout Colchicum autumnale
    Convallatoxin Cardiotonic Convallaria majalis
    Curcumin Choleretic Curcuma longa
    Cynarin Choleretic Cynara scolymus
    Danthron Laxative Cassia species
    Demecolcine Antitumor agent Colchicum autumnale
    Deserpidine Antihypertensive, tranquillizer Rauvolfia canescens
    Deslanoside Cardiotonic Digitalis lanata
    L-Dopa Anti-parkinsonism Mucuna sp
    Digitalin Cardiotonic Digitalis purpurea
    Digitoxin Cardiotonic Digitalis purpurea
    Digoxin Cardiotonic Digitalis purpurea
    Emetine Amoebicide, emetic Cephaelis ipecacuanha
    Ephedrine Sympathomimetic, antihistamine Ephedra sinica
    Etoposide Antitumor agent Podophyllum peltatum
    Galanthamine Cholinesterase inhibitor Lycoris squamigera
    Gitalin Cardiotonic Digitalis purpurea
    Glaucarubin Amoebicide Simarouba glauca
    Glaucine Antitussive Glaucium flavum
    Glasiovine Antidepressant Octea glaziovii
    Glycyrrhizin Sweetener, Addison's disease Glycyrrhiza glabra
    Gossypol Male contraceptive Gossypium species
    Hemsleyadin Bacillary dysentery Hemsleya amabilis
    Hesperidin Capillary fragility Citrus species
    Hydrastine Hemostatic, astringent Hydrastis canadensis
    Hyoscyamine Anticholinergic Hyoscyamus Niger
    Irinotecan Anticancer, antitumor agent Camptotheca acuminata
    Kaibic acud Ascaricide Digenea simplex
    Kawain Tranquillizer Piper methysticum
    Kheltin Bronchodilator Ammi visaga
    Lanatosides A, B, C Cardiotonic Digitalis lanata
    Lapachol Anticancer, antitumor Tabebuia sp.
    A-Lobeline Smoking deterrant, respiratory stimulant Lobelia inflata
    Menthol Rubefacient Mentha species
    Methyl salicylate Rubefacient Gaultheria procumbens
    Monocrotaline Antitumor agent (topical) Crotalaria sessiliflora
    Morphine Analgesic Papaver somniferum
    Neoandrographolide Dysentery Andrographis paniculata
    Nicotine Insecticide Nicotiana tabacum
    Nordihydroguaiaretic acid Antioxidant Larrea divaricata
    Noscapine Antitussive Papaver somniferum
    Ouabain Cardiotonic Strophanthus gratus
    Pachycarpine Oxytocic Sophora pschycarpa
    Palmatine Antipyretic, detoxicant Coptis japonica
    Papain Proteolytic, mucolytic Carica papaya
    Papavarine Smooth muscle relaxant Papaver somniferum
    Phyllodulcin Sweetner Hydrangea macrophylla
    Physostigmine Cholinesterase Inhibitor Physostigma venenosum
    Picrotoxin Analeptic Anamirta cocculus
    Pilocarpine Parasympathomimetic Pilocarpus jaborandi
    Pinitol Expectorant Several plants
    Podophyllotoxin Antitumor anticancer agent Podophyllum peltatum
    Protoveratrines A, B Antihypertensives Veratrum album
    Pseudoephredrine* Sympathomimetic Ephedra sinica
    Pseudoephedrine, nor- Sympathomimetic Ephedra sinica
    Quinidine Antiarrhythmic Cinchona ledgeriana
    Quinine Antimalarial, antipyretic Cinchona ledgeriana
    Qulsqualic acid Anthelmintic Quisqualis indica
    Rescinnamine Antihypertensive, tranquillizer Rauvolfia serpentina
    Reserpine Antihypertensive, tranquillizer Rauvolfia serpentina
    Rhomitoxin Antihypertensive, tranquillizer Rhododendron molle
    Rorifone Antitussive Rorippa indica
    Rotenone Piscicide, Insecticide Lonchocarpus nicou
    Rotundine Analagesic, sedative, traquillizer Stephania sinica
    Rutin Capillary fragility Citrus species
    Salicin Analgesic Salix alba
    Sanguinarine Dental plaque inhibitor Sanguinaria canadensis
    Santonin Ascaricide Artemisia maritma
    Scillarin A Cardiotonic Urginea maritima
    Scopolamine Sedative Datura species
    Sennosides A, B Laxative Cassia species
    Silymarin Antihepatotoxic Silybum marianum
    Sparteine Oxytocic Cytisus scoparius
    Stevioside Sweetner Stevia rebaudiana
    Strychnine CNS stimulant Strychnos nux-vomica
    Taxol Antitumor agent Taxus brevifolia
    Teniposide Antitumor agent Podophyllum peltatum
    A-Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) Antiemetic, decrease occular tension Cannabis sativa
    Tetrahydropalmatine Analgesic, sedative, traquillizer Corydalis ambigua
    Tetrandrine Antihypertensive Stephania tetrandra
    Theobromine Diuretic, vasodilator Theobroma cacao
    Theophylline Diuretic, brochodilator Theobroma cacao and others
    Thymol Antifungal (topical) Thymus vulgaris
    Topotecan Antitumor, anticancer agent Camptotheca acuminata
    Trichosanthin Abortifacient Trichosanthes kirilowii
    Tubocurarine Skeletal muscle relaxant Chondodendron tomentosum
    Valapotriates Sedative Valeriana officinalis
    Vasicine Cerebral stimulant Vinca minor
    Vinblastine Antitumor, Antileukemic agent Catharanthus roseus
    Vincristine Antitumor, Antileukemic agent Catharanthus roseus
    Yohimbine Aphrodisiac Pausinystalia yohimbe
    Yuanhuacine Abortifacient Daphne genkwa
    Yuanhuadine Abortifacient Daphne genkwa
  • CHUBBY69740
    I have fibromyalgia and suffer severe clinical depression. For these conditions, I take Effexor (187.5 mg) and Seroquel (12 5 mg). Part of the side effects of these drugs are weight gain. I supplement them with Chromium GTF and Mag-Citrate. The Chromium GTF for an appetite depressant (especially sweets) and Mag-Citrate for my muscles. They were recommended by my pharmacist who is fully aware of what prescription drugs I am taking. I have felt the best since I have been taking them that I have felt for a considerable length of time.
    Great, well-balanced article. It is always important to understand herbs are indeed drugs (in their original form from Nature's pharmacy) and must be used with caution. Don't just believe what some marketer writes for the label - do your research and check with your doctor about possible interactions with any prescriptions you are taking.

    My favorite herb is stinging nettles. Drinking a tea made from its leaves, and boosting my immune system with echinachea, gets me through the hay-fever season. I used to spend months in an antihistamine fog every summer ... I haven't taken them for six summers now!
  • Keep in mind that the drugs you can get prescribed by doctors were developed by drug companies, often after they researched "natural" remedies and figured out what their active ingredients were. However, to patent them and to make them commercially viable to produce, they often have to change them into something stronger or less safe, perhaps because they don't understand how in the natural form there are other aspects of the preparation that help buffer the harshness or bad effect of the remedy, and the developed drugs often have side effects that are worse than what they are treating.

    Some chronic diseases are very easily treated by herbal remedies, and without the negative side effects of the pharmaceutical treatments; a good example is high blood pressure, which is quite easily treated herbally (and I'm not suggesting Red Yeast, which can be dangerous without good supervision). Using simple treatments of aged garlic, fish oil, DHA, EPA, vitamin C, Vitamin E (but only in the correct form: alpha-tocopherol succinate), CoQ10, and grapeseed extract has been effective for most of my friends I have recommended this to.

    Supplements are unregulated by the government, but so what? (I mean, they really aren't doing a very good job of regulating anything, anyway.) So, how can you get good supplements? You need to rely on good suppliers, choosing suppliers that provide pharmaceutical-grade supplements that are standardized (that is, tested so that you the exact dosage in each tablet or pill), and provide high-quality products. For example, Echinacea (an herb commonly used as an anti-viral) must be of the correct variety, picked at the correct time of the year, pressed in the right way, stored in the right way, etc. to be effective.

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