A large amount of Americans turn to natural health remedies because they feel that they are a more natural solution to traditional medicine. While the effects of these natural health remedies are often beneficial to consumers, natural health remedies are not required to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration because they are in small doses.
Because of this possible drug interactions and other similar information is often unknown. Therefore, it is important to focus on what effect the natural health remedies has on the body, not so much what the ingredients are or where they come from.
This is a list of a few natural health remedies that have adverse effects naturally with some people and violent reactions with over the counter and prescription medications.
- Gingko Biloba is commonly consumed for its memory enhancing properties, improving blood flow, and antioxidant properties. What it isn’t known for is its risk of spontaneous hemorrhage in certain people. Gingko Biloba also has documented reactions with Coumadin, Plavix, and other blood altering medications such as Aspirin.
- St. Johns Wort is another popular natural health remedy known for its anti depressant properties, and is widely taken around the world. St. Johns wort contains a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor which is a main ingredient in most anti depressants. Taken in conjunction with anti depressants, St. Johns wort can easily overdose a normal sized patient, causing delirium, severe fatigue, and extreme nausea. This could lead to potential life threatening complications.
- Ephedra is another natural health remedy rising in popularity, called “herbal fen-phen”. In the medical community it is often associated with ephedrine. Known adverse reactions include insomnia, tremor, headache, seizures, arrhythmias, heart attack, stroke, and death. Fifty-six percent of these reactions happened in people younger than forty years old. Ephedra has also been associated with the formation of kidney stones. It has potentially dangerous effects to people who are hypertensive, diabetic, glaucoma, have prostate enlargement, seizure disorders, and cardiovascular disease.
- Ginseng is one of the most commonly used natural health remedies even though it has little evidence supporting that it does anything beneficial at all. Regardless, it is reported to strengthen normal body functions and improve sexual performance. A reaction with wayfarin, a common anti coagulant, has been reported.
- Kava is a popular herbal sedative, known for its calming effects. Higher doses of this natural health remedy have been associated with central nervous system spasms, seizure like movements, seizing of the jaw muscles, and an acerbating of Parkinson’s disease. It should never be used in conjunction with antipsychotics and alcohol because it can lead to potential life threatening complications.
Because natural health remedies have become so popular, consumers must be aware of the potential complications and effects of taking too many of these products. St. Johns wort overdoses when combined with antidepressants and Gingko Biloba can increase bleeding and interact with other blood thinning medications. It is important to inform physicians that they are taking natural health remedies and to accurately give their medical histories to prevent possible complications. Physicians often advise patients to seek medical guidance- regardless of the fact that natural health remedies are available without prescription- to inform the patients of the life threatening or damaging effects of mixing these natural health remedies with traditional medicine. Kava and Ephedra have shown damaging and often fatal side effects in medical studies and in the emergency room on their own – a very dangerous combination when combined with traditional sedatives. It is important as a consumer to be informed on these natural health remedies and to make sure that every precaution is taken to ensure that they are not combined with traditional medicines of the same kind.