HERBS DRUGS HERBS INTERACTION

In rare cases certain herbs can interact with certain drugs, so if you are taking medication prescribed by your doctor or hospital you should check with a medical herbalist whether it is safe to take herbs. You can ask your GP too, but unless a doctor is trained in herbal medicine he or she is unlikely to know much about herbs. In most instances taking herbs alongside pharmaceuticals is safe, but it is best to double check. It is also important to tell medical staff that you are taking herbs if you are about to undergo an operation or medical investigation. To be on the safe side, stop taking any herbs a week beforehand. Throughout this blog I alert you to possible drug interactions when talking about specific herbs.

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POSSIBILITY OF ALLERGY

Very occasionally, herbs can cause allergic reactions. If you develop any rash, itchiness, headache or stomach upset while taking a particular herb, stop using it immediately. If you are prone to allergies, watch out for herbs belonging to the daisy family, known as Compositae (examples from this blog include yarrow, chamomile and echinacea) and use them in very small amounts to begin with.

RULES FOR SAFE HERB USE

It is sensible to follow a few rules for maximum safety when using herbs:

• Make sure you have the right species – refer to the Latin and common name list at the end of this blog. Anything that you buy over the counter must be labelled with the full Latin names of plants.

• Make sure you are using the right part of the herb – there is often a marked difference in the actions of different parts of the same plant. For instance, dandelion root stimulates the liver while dandelion leaves are primarily a diuretic.

• Make sure you buy from a reputable retailer and use reliable sources of information. See the Resources section for more details.

• Always follow the advice on dosage and check any contraindications.

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