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In The News: Some Herbal Supplements Can Be Dangerous

6/13/2011 9:27:47 AM

Tags: In The News, Dietary Supplements, Herbal Supplements, Kava Kava, Germander, Bitter Orange, Ma Huang, Chaparral, Yohimbe, Toxic Herbs, Liver Damage

S.McCabeCan some herbal remedies do more harm than good? There may be something to treat everything, but not all of those “somethings” are safe. A few herbal supplements are sold over-the-counter that can cause severely adverse reactions in the body, reports ABC News.

Many people have the mindset that anything natural is safe, says Amitava Dasgupta, M.D., professor of pathology laboratory medicine at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. However, some natural products can be very toxic.  

6-13-11 germander
Consuming germander can lead to irreversible liver damage.
Photo by Anemoneprojectors/Courtesy

Germander: While this supplement is used for general health, it can also cause liver damage after extended use.

Kava Kava: This supplement is typically used as a natural sleep aid, but if used for a few months straight, it can cause irreparable liver damage and even total liver failure.

Ma Huang: This contains ephedra and is marketed as a weight loss supplement, but it can cause deadly liver and heart damage after only a few weeks of use.

Bitter Orange: While this herb is also marketed as a weight loss supplement, it acts similar to amphetamine and can cause heart damage.

Chaparral: Sold as an energizing supplement, it can heavily damage the liver.

Yohimbe: Known as the herbal Viagra, this can raise your blood pressure and eventually cause heart problems.

Most herbal supplements are not dangerous if taken as directed. However, for the few that are, Dasgupta recommends that the Food and Drug Administration better regulate these products, such as forcing the dangerous supplements to attach a warning label to the bottle. People should know any negative effects of anything they choose to put in their body.

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