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Is it safe to combine herbal medicine with drugs?

by , 14 November 2013

There's no doubt that herbal medicine works. Various studies have shown just how effective these herbs are. But as an increasing number of people use these herbs, the big question is whether or not it's safe to combine herbs with drugs? Read on to find out…

Want to use herbal medicine, but are concerned about how it might react when combined with conventional medicine?

If so, here’s what you need to know…

Follow these guidelines basic guidelines when using herbs in conjunction with other medications

Dr Jonathan Wright of Nutrition & Healing, drug interactions can be dangerous, depending on the herb, the drug and the combination of the two.

It’s for this reason that Dr Wright recommends you stick to these guidelines when using herbs and conventional medicine:

#1: If you’re taking any drug and wish to take herbs as well, seek the advice of a professional trained in herbal therapy.

#2: The following drugs have a narrow therapeutic window (meaning that they can become dangerously toxic or dangerously ineffective with only relatively small changes in their blood concentrations): Digoxin, Coumadin, anti-rejection drugs, many anti-HIV drugs, phenytoin, and phenobarbital.

Never take any herbal supplement with these drugs except under professional guidance.

#3: Don’t take herbal supplements with drugs except under professional guidance if:
  • Your heart, liver, or kidney function is impaired
  • You’re elderly,
  • You’re pregnant,
  • You have received an organ transplant
  • You have a genetic disorder that deranges normal biochemical functions.

#4: Never take drugs and herbal supplements at the same time of day. Always separate them by at least an hour, preferably more.

#5: If you have any type of serious disease and are being treated with chemical drugs, don’t take any herbal supplement except under professional guidance.

#6: Stop all herbal supplements about one week prior to surgery.

#7: Research any herbal supplement you wish to take to see if there are known (not speculative) herb-drug interactions.

Much is known, for example, about St. John's wort, but there is still some speculation. Learn to differentiate between the two.

#8: If you believe that an herbal supplement you’re taking is causing an interaction, stop taking it and seek professional advice.

While herbal medicine is safe and effective, you should always be cautious when taking it with drugs. So stick to these guidelines to be on the safe side.

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