Herbal Remedies

[deleted account] ( 18 moms have responded )

Since this has been raised in another conversation, I thought I'd open the debate here.

Herbal Remedies' Potential Dangers

We've all heard about herbal supplements that have worked for someone we know. People swear by them: echinacea for a cold, ginkgo biloba for memory or the peppermint in the salve your aunt believes can ease chest congestion. Over the past decade, use of herbal supplements has jumped 83%, going from $12.2 billion in U.S. sales in 1996 to a whopping $22.3 billion last year. While many of those users may be skeptical, they figure, Hey, these things are natural; what harm could they do?

As it turns out, in some cases they can do a lot of harm, and a surprising number of people are putting themselves at risk by using herbal supplements without being informed about their actual benefits and potential dangers. A new study conducted at the University of Iowa and published in the June issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings reveals just how widespread the problem has become.

Researchers found that the most common mistake users of herbal remedies make is believing that the substances they take actually work. An earlier National Institutes of Health study showed that about 19% of Americans take herbal supplements and more than half the time they're using the substances to treat a specific health condition instead of just for general well-being. That's fine, provided the supplements treat those conditions, but in more than two-thirds of cases, the preparations have never been clinically proved to be effective for those uses. And as any scientist will tell you, clinical proof— a randomized, controlled trial— is the gold standard for establishing a drug's usefulness and safety. So a lot of dollars— not to mention medical faith— are being spent on potentially useless treatments.

Aside from making you think you're doing something to alleviate your health problem (and not really treating the ailment at all), herbal supplements present other possible pitfalls. "If a supplement is not effective and not harmful, most physicians probably won't have a problem with it," says Aditya Bardia, an internist at the Mayo Clinic and lead author of the study. "It's when it's not effective and also harmful that it's going to be a cause of concern."

Certain supplements can have adverse effects ranging from nausea and vomiting to life-threatening conditions like liver or kidney dysfunction. For example, in 2002 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning about potential liver damage from kava root, then one of the 10 most popular herbal supplements sold in the U.S. And in 2004 the FDA banned ephedra, a Chinese weight-loss herb, after it was linked to more than 100 deaths. Equally troubling, some Ayurvedic supplements, medications based on Indian and South Asian practices, may be adulterated and thus could be contaminated with dangerous heavy metals, including lead and mercury.

Perhaps the greatest potential risk, however, lies in possible interaction with pharmaceutical drugs you are already taking. Saint-John's-wort, which has been shown to help in treating mild to moderate depression, is also known to reduce the effectiveness of some HIV medications and heart drugs such as digoxin and warfarin— life-and-death meds that it doesn't pay to fool with.

To avoid such complications, ask your doctor before you decide to try an herbal supplement, and be sure to disclose any supplements you're taking even if you're not asked. That can be particularly important when you're being prescribed a new medication. The message here is not to avoid all herbal supplements. Increasingly, Western medicine is improving because of discoveries about these alternative treatments. However, it's important to remember that they are essentially drugs, and the best way to use them is to separate fact from fiction first.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/a...,28804,1703763_1703764_1703942,00.html#ixzz0iYHYE6zw


Jocelyn - posted on 03/18/2010




I ALWAYS do my research before I start taking anything new. I am a big believer in going the natural route, and I take my fair share of supplements. But I will always try a natural remedy first, before going to chemicals. I also ask my doctor tons of questions and tell my pharmacist so it can go in my file (for future reference regarding any other medications, natural or not)

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[deleted account]

I like the IDEA of the herbal remedies - maybe it just appeals to something in me!

But I tend to view herbal companies in the same light as pharmaceutical companies - they're only in it for the dollars! I have epilepsy, and I'm just not brave enough to try something other than prescribed medications. I tend to go with what helps me, I don't care whether it comes from a laboratory or a field!

[deleted account]

I have never taken any herbal remedies before, but I am about to try one. I never put anything in my body that was not regulated by the FDA--odd quirk, I know, but it scared me. Anyway, Concerta, which I take for ADD, costs $132 for a month supply. It was the only ADD med that worked well for me, but I just cannot justify the cost any longer (yet not doing well without it), so I spoke to my doctor and he recommended an OTC pill called Ginkosmart. I got it at the vitamin shoppe, and I'm interested to see if it works as well as the other. He also recommended the Omega 3, but told me to try one at a time and I just happend to start w/ the Ginkosmart. Anyone else used either of these?

Rachel - posted on 03/30/2010




Hey Sunny could u possibly give me the name of what it is that you are using for ur son to help him relax, as my 3 yr old daughter needs something and like you there is no way i will be giving her riddlen. I would just like to no as the doc wants to put her on riddlen but after seeing what that can do to a child i would really like to go to him with something else and see what he says.

Sharon - posted on 03/28/2010




I'm very particular about which herbal remedies I use, how & when.

I'm not often on prescription medication but when I am - I pay attention.

[deleted account]

I tend to try to go the homeopathic or natural remedy route, EXCEPT for the case of anitbiotics and I can honestly say that if anyone in my family was diagosed with cancer I would go the route the doctor recommends.

From the time I was 16 until I was 19 I was addicted to Ibuprofen. I had to take 8 pills just to get going in the morning (not to mention countless more throughout the day to keep me going). I was a dancer and I have horrible scoliosis and shin splints. I took over 10 hours of classes per week, I taughter 2 classes for little kids, and I co-taught two fo the adult classes with my mom (who used to be a professional ballerina). I also had a part-time job as a secretary for my local town offices AND I was in school full time (12-15 units per semster once I started college).All of that required A LOT of standing, walking and moving around, oo I was in considerable pain without the Ibuprofen. When I was 19 years old I decided it had to stop. I went to Trader Joes and found an herbal pain pill meant for menstraul cramps. After 1 week I was totally off the Ibuprofen and taking just 2 of the herbal pills per day (one in the morning and one in the mid-afternoon). I really feel as if I saved my liver by doing that. I still do not take Ibuprofen and I keep the herbal pills stocked in my medicine cabinet (I don't need tbem as much since I'm not dancing anymore).

When my kids were teething I tried EVERYTHING I could before giving them Motrin. In the end though, the only thing that worked at all for both of them was the Motrin, but at least I can say that I tried other methods first!

Jocelyn - posted on 03/28/2010




Salba seeds are a great vegetarian omega 3 ^_^ And you can put them in anything

LaCi - posted on 03/28/2010




Ephedra was absolutely amazing. It is actually legal again, although its a bit difficult to find.

I'm a big fan of actually eating medicinal plants rather than taking a pill that may or may not contain what it says it does. I'm also really into gardening, so it fits into my lifestyle to just grow them myself and eat them.

AND just a note - you can get omega 3 supplements that are vegetarian friendly-Or you can eat flax seed, hemp seeds, walnuts, etc. Seed are a great source of omega 3s. I prefer hemp seeds, as they contain the truly perfect protein. ;D

[deleted account]

I agree it's not worth getting him dependant on a drug such as Riddlen. I'm not a fan of long term drugging to control conditions such as ADHD. They can be managed with good diet and proper support. Sounds like you and your doctor are being very thorough, considering his other conditions.

Sunny - posted on 03/23/2010




Cathy: he is taking omega 3 along with a supplement with hops and chamomile and an iron supplement that has added vit.c to help it absorb (he is anemic and allergic to dairy and some types of wheat and grain) My brother and my partners sister both have ADHD and we really didnt want to put Noah onto those types of medications unless we had been through every other option, and he also has asthma which his doctor said came be triggered by different types of attention medications. We are really happy with what he is on, he is able to pay attention, relax and sleep without loosing his personality or turning into a zombie. Like i said though we went through our doctor and had many blood test to make sure he was in need of what we were giving him.

[deleted account]

Quoting Sunny
i think it all has a place and a purpose, my son is taking a herbal supplement as apposed to medication to help him relax ( there was no way i was going to give my 3 year old riddlen) and he has been amazing on them, but i am working with his doctor not just giving him this and that.

Have you tried your son with an omega 3 supplement? It's recommended in the UK for children with dyslexia, ADHD ect. It helps brain concentration. Also completely natural and safe. May not be suitable for vegetarians being fish oil.

Veronica - posted on 03/22/2010




Im in business with health and wellness - and its very important for my customers (and myself) to consult with their physicians. I am not a doctor - so whatever I recommend - is only based on my training with the products - and therefore I ALWAYS recommend they take information to their doctors first and go over their conditions and medicine FIRST. You never know what will affect anyone, or their medications - and dosing - they may need more than what our bottle recommends or maybe even less - so its always better for them to check first.

So far - all good feedback, and the docs like what they are seeing.

No matter what - always consult a physician -- and remember too - not all doctors know a lot about natural products either - so you may have to find a doctor/herbalist/pharmacist that does.

Sunny - posted on 03/22/2010




This might sound strange but after years on medications and pain killers i tried a herbal remedy and my doc and i were amazed, sadly after 2 wonderful years on it the company that made the remedy went broke and im back to being in pain :( i think it all has a place and a purpose, my son is taking a herbal supplement as apposed to medication to help him relax ( there was no way i was going to give my 3 year old riddlen) and he has been amazing on them, but i am working with his doctor not just giving him this and that.

Lindsay - posted on 03/22/2010




I side with my doctor. If she recommends a natural/herbal supplement we will give it a go and the same with prescriptions/medications. I chose her as the doctor because I respect and trust her to help keep us well. And I am far from an MD myself.

[deleted account]

I follow my doctor's recommendations. I even follow my vet's advice for my epilectic dog. She has him on his regular anti-seizure meds + some other natural supplements. I have never given my son any natural/herbal supplement. I tried melatonin for myself for sleeping, but didn;t work.

Adrienne - posted on 03/18/2010




I am the same. I was raised taking natural remedies and my family doc has always been a DO who will reccomend a natural or herbal remedy first. I take supplements always. I also do a LOT of research and my family doctor and midwife i'm sure have done even more.

Natural medication should not be used any more lightly than chemical medication, just because it is in the form nature intended it to be in. You should always make sure that your doc knows about herbals you are taking so they can counsel you against contraindications.

Krista - posted on 03/18/2010




I have no problem with certain tried-and-true remedies, like ginger or peppermint for nausea. But some of that other stuff is very potent and unregulated.

Sara - posted on 03/18/2010




See, people think that drug companies are just out to make money and they're evil, blah blah blah, but "natural" herbal remedy companies are just out to make money too. I listen to my doctor because I trust her and she's the one with the medical degree, not me.

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