Many plants are revered for their medicinal uses as alternatives to synthetic chemical medications. But simply because a plant is medicinal does not mean that it cannot possibly be dangerous as well. If taken improperly, the effectiveness of herbal medicines can be diminished, and the medicine can sometimes even be harmful. Polygonum cuspidatum is no exception; its roots are harvested for use in antioxidant supplements. By exercising proper safety precautions, you can reap all the benefits of these roots and avoid any of the potential risks.
Polygonum Cuspidatum Root
Resveratrol is a natural compound found in grapes, red wine, purple grape juice, peanuts, and some berries and is known as a powerful antioxidant with a long list of other health benefits. Resveratrol supplements sold in pill form sometimes contain extracts from red wine and red grapes, but more commonly, roots of the Polygonum cuspidatum plant (also called Hu Zhang, kojo-kon or Japanese knotweed) are harvested to make resveratrol supplements. The dried roots and stems of these plants have longed been used in Chinese medicine as a circulatory tonic, but recently, scientists have begun to discover its many cancer-fighting and cardiovascular benefits as well.
Taking Polygonum Cuspidatum
As is the case with all medicines, the best and easiest way to make sure that you are taking Polygonum cuspidatum root safely is to always follow the manufacturer's dosage instructions exactly. Read the manufacturer's label carefully -- particularly dosage amounts and warnings -- before purchasing any resveratrol supplements containing extracts of Polygonum cuspidatum. If you have any doubts about taking the supplement, or if you have a concern that is not addressed by the product safety labeling, contact a doctor prior to taking any of the supplement.
In general, Polygonum cuspidatum root supplements should not be taken by pregnant women or nursing mothers, especially if the supplements also contain any red wine extracts. For pregnant women and nursing mothers who still wish to reap the antioxidant benefits of resveratrol, red grape juice is a safer alternative than resveratrol supplements containing Polygonum cuspidatum and red wine extracts. Women with a history of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers should also avoid taking resveratrol supplements.
Another important precaution for taking resveratrol safely is to avoid drugs with which resveratrol supplements can dangerously interact. People taking anticoagulant drugs, such as warfarin (Coumadin); antiplatelet drugs, such as clopidogrel (Plavix) and dipyridamole (Persantine); and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin and ibuprofen, should avoid taking resveratrol supplements. For medically different reasons, anyone taking reductase inhibitors (atorvastatin, lovastatin and simvastatin), calcium channel antagonists (felodipine, nicardipine, nifedipine, nisoldipine, nitrendipine, nimodipine and verapamil), antiarrhythmic agents (amiodarone), HIV protease inhibitors (saquinivir), immunosuppressants (cyclosporine and tacrolimus), antihistamines (terfenadine), benzodiazepines (midazolam and triazolam) and drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction (sildenafil) should also avoid taking resveratrol supplements.