Possible Side Effects of Herbal Medicine

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The possible side effects of herbal medicine include dangerous drug interactions and potential allergies. Consult a doctor or herbalist before taking herbal supplements and consider advice from a licensed dietitian in this free video on nutritional supplements.

Part of the Video Series: Nutritional Supplements
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Video Transcript

My name is Christine Marquette and I'm a registered and licensed dietitian with Marquette Nutrition and Fitness and I'm going to talk to you about possible side effects of herbal medicine. This is actually a very wide ranging topic, there's a lot of things involved with herbal medicine. Part of the thing that you want to keep in mind is what you're current health condition is. If you're somebody who is already taking medications to treat something for example high blood pressure or cholesterol or diabetes and you want to experiment with herbal medicine, it's very important that you tell the herbalist what you're currently taking. It's also important that you talk to your primary care physician and let them know that you are thinking about using herbal medicine as well because they can give you a heads up on some possible interactions. There are a lot of herbs that can interact with prescription medications. They can actually cause them to be too strong or they can interfere with their ability to work and basically neutralize that medication. So it's very important that you communicate again with your primary care physician as well as with the herbalist because if you don't and you take them all at the same time, you take your prescription medications, you take herbs, there is a very high risk of interaction where your medication could be too strong or it could not work all at. If it becomes too strong and say for example it's a blood pressure medication, your blood pressure could drop dangerously low and you may end up in the hospital. The same is true of diabetes medication if you combine the wrong herb with the wrong diabetes medication, your blood sugar may drop dangerously low, you could end up in a coma. So it's extremely important that you communicate with everyone who is on your health care team and make sure that they know of any possible interaction. In addition, even if you're not taking medications, any type of food, plant, any substance that you ingest, there's always a possibility that you could be allergic to that particular item so whenever you're trying something new that you've never had before, you've never ingested before, it's very important that you do it in very small quantities to make sure that you don't have an allergic reaction to it. Allergies are somewhat low incidents, I don't want to say rare but there is a somewhat low incidence of allergies to foods in adults, however there is still that risk and they could be a life threatening reactions, if you go through anaphylactic shock and you're not near a hospital, again that can be life threatening. So with anything new that you've never ingested before, you always want to do it in very small quantities and be very cautious, again communicate with your entire health care team because there are many potential side effects to herbal medicine.


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