Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Herbal Health Products--What You Should Know
Aren't herbal health products safe because they're natural?
Not necessarily. Don't think that herbal health products are safe just because they come from plants. Even some plants are poisonous. Although herbal products are advertised as "natural," they aren't natural to the human body.
Unlike prescription medicines, herbal products don't have be tested before they're sold to prove that they work well and are safe. In addition, herbal products may not be pure--they might have other things in them, like plant pollen, that could make you sick.
Do any medical problems make it more dangerous to take herbal health products?
Yes. It may not be safe to take herbal medicines if you have certain health problems. If you have any of these problems, talk to your doctor before taking herbal products:
  • High blood pressure
  • Thyroid problems
  • Psychiatric problems
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • History of stroke
It is also very important to tell your doctor about any herbal products you take if you are going to have surgery.
What are possible side effects of herbal health products?
Herbal health products aren't tested to be sure they're safe, so they may cause problems. The following are exmples of problems caused by herbal medicines:
Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a health problem while you're taking an herbal product.
Can herbal health products change the way prescription medicines work?
Yes. Some medicines shouldn't be taken with herbal products.
If you take a prescription medicine, check with your doctor before taking any herbal health product.