Herbal Remedies

Reporter: Helen Wellings

We spend two billion dollars a year on natural herbal remedies believing they're safe because they're "natural". But a new study found 20 per cent of herbal medicines aren't registered for sale and have dodgy contents labelling. Whats more, taken with prescription drugs, many can be a dangerous cocktail.

Leah Hechtman President National Herbalist Association of Australia says "if someone just takes an average multivitamin at the supermarket, the risk is low. But if they are on some heavy duty medications, absolutely, things can happen."

Dr Ian Musgrave, molecular pharmacologist/toxicologist, University of Adelaide says "there have been reports of fatal drug herb interactions."

Cranberry for urinary tract infections can increase the potency of blood thinning drugs like Warfarin. A raft of herbal potions interferes with blood-thinners. Gingko taken to improve memory can cause excessive bleeding mixed with blood thinning medication. St John's Wort for depression is notorious for serious interactions with prescription drugs like other anti-depressants, oral contraceptives and blood thinners.

Dr Ian Musgrave says "It will either prevent the body from breaking the drugs down or it will increase the rate of breaking the drugs down. Butt 07:13 shorten People take dandelion as a diuretic but if you're also taking conventional diuretics it can result in reduction in your total body water and dehydration, and can lead to heart problems."

Chamomile decreases the effectiveness of antifungal drugs. Chinese herbs may also react with IVF patients treatments.

Leah Hechtman says "Certainly it is not something that I would advocate, the conjunction of the herbs with the drugs, and they did have a problem. They did have a lot of blood loss through the surgery and complications post."

If you're on medication, beware of herbal remedies. Talk to your doctor first and make sure any herbalist or naturopath is a member of a registered association.

Further Details

www.nhaa.org.au