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Updated 03 September 2015

When herbal remedies are dangerous

Although herbs are generally safe with very few side effects, one should be responsible and careful when using any herb.

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Some herbs can have dangerous interactions with conventional medications, so if you are on any medications, consult a professional doctor, herbalist or naturopath first before you start any herbal treatment.

If you do react badly to a herbal remedy, stop taking it immediately and seek professional help.

How to use herbs safely:

- Over-the-counter herbs are generally safe.

- If you are harvesting herbs from the wild, you have to know exactly what herb it is that you are collecting.

- Make sure that you use the correct part of the plant.

- Match the correct herb to the condition that you want to treat.

- Stick to well-known herbs, with minimal side effects.

- Check if the herb has been prepared properly.

- Always tell your health-care professional what conventional medication or herbal remedy you are on.

- If you are on any prescribed medication, seek professional advice before using any herbal remedy.

- Some herbs can trigger allergic reactions, so if you are allergy-prone visit a qualified herbalist before taking any herb.

Take note of the following dangerous interactions:

- The most common dangerous interactions between herbs and conventional medicine happen in people that are using anticoagulants (blood thinning) drugs like Warfarin and Heparin.

- Certain herbs like Gingko biloba and Chinese angelica enhance the blood thinning activity of anticoagulants thereby increasing someone's risk of internal and external bleeding.

St. John's wort: if you are taking antibiotics, anti-epileptics, immune-suppressants or anti-depressants you should not take St. John's wort as it can reduce the effectiveness of the other drugs.

 
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