Herb basics: Be Cautious with New Herbs

Our organs become more active at specific times of day

| November/December 1999

Use caution with new herbs 

Most of the popular medicinal herbs, and especially those sold as supplements, are relatively safe when taken as directed. But users need to use common sense to avoid possible allergic reactions or harmful interactions with existing conditions or medications.

When you’re trying a new herbal supplement, start out below the recommended dose and monitor your responses very closely before increasing it. Look for any unpleasant side effects, such as rashes, dizziness, nausea, or headaches.

Some people have allergic ­reactions to plant foods or airborne plant substances. Since herbs are both plants and food, and herbal supplements may be very concentrated, it’s not unheard of for allergic reactions to occur. There are some common- sense predictors, however. For ­example, if you’re allergic to ­ragweed, you may want to be ­cautious about using chamomile, which is also in the aster family. Consult your herbal health care provider if you have other allergic tendencies.

Source: Chamberlain, Logan, Ph.D. What the Labels Won’t Tell You. Loveland, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1998. 

Ginger for an upset stomach 

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