Mixing herbal remedies and medication poses serious health risks

Experts have warned people to take caution when it comes to herbal alternatives. Source: Pixabay

Many people opt for herbal remedies and natural alternatives when it comes to treating illnesses, but new research has warned that mixing these treatments with conventional drugs could actually be harmful. This means that millions around the world could unintentionally be preventing their chances of getting better with knowing it.

In fact, new research published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology says these alternatives have the potential to change the way prescription medication works with your body – and not in a good way.

While many people use herbs such as natural remedies such as sage, flaxseed, St. John’s wort, cranberry, goji juice, green tea and chamomilla, the research found that significant interactions occurred with a range of medication. These included medications like warfarin and statins, commonly used for conditions including epilepsy, heart disease, depression and HIV.

The study noted that herb-drug interaction (HDI) was becoming more of a public health problem and can result in life-threatening reactions when mixed with other medication. The study’s authors noted a rise in rejections in heart, renal and liver transplants and found that people hiding their herbal treatments from health professionals was also partly to blame for a series of serious health problems. Serious issues include organ damage, with other side effects include nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, a decline in mental health and even seizures also being recorded.

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While people usually know something isn’t right with their health when they notice these symptoms, they’re often unaware that it could be the herbal alternatives that are causing the problems. Alarmingly, 28 per cent of people who took the alternatives with their medication as part of the study had a reaction.

The research from the South African Medical Research council analysed 49 case reports and two observational studies with 15 cases of adverse drug reactions, with most patients being diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, cancer and organ failure.

It’s not the first time herbal remedies have been linked to medication problems. Last year, a study lead by the University of Adelaide, Murdoch University and Curtin University suggested the contents of these alternative medications weren’t harmless, but noted that because of their herbal status, the supplements were rarely put through the same strict testing measures as other medications, meaning that many people could unintentionally be ingesting metals, toxins and even pesticides.

It’s important that anyone seeking alternative medication or herbal supplements discusses the option with a health professional before taking them. You may find they’re completely harmless, but it’s always good to double check to ensure any existing medication you’re taking isn’t affected.

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What do you think? Do you take herbal remedies with your current medication?

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