Recently I was asked to clarify which herbs could not be safely combined with other supplements. I thought, “sure, no problem,” knowing that there are literally hundreds of thousands of different herbs with countless compounds, properties and actions warranting another encyclopedia set’s worth of break down. And then it occurred to me that it would be of more benefit to just list some resources that I’ve relied upon to help me sift through the herbal options and determine the appropriate combinations to supplement.
My most frequent go to are the books A Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch and Staying Healthy with Nutrition, published by Celestial Arts Publishing. The first provides both quick reference lists of select herbs and more detailed supplement recommendations for various conditions. Staying Healthy…is an A-Z guide of all vitamins and minerals plus a breakdown of different diets with suggested appropriate recipes. For a list of medications and their corresponding restrictions the Physicians’ Desk Reference is a must have, but make sure you are referring to the most updated edition as the pharmaceutical world is an ever-changing one.
As said before, a full list of supplemental conflicts could very well absorb your computer’s memory stores. Let me be clear though, not because they’re so many conflicts, just that many supplements. Generally speaking, herbs, vitamins, minerals and their active compounds are safe when used properly. But when used outside of their recommended dosages and durations, some issues can arise. And more often, these issues are not at all the same types of risks associated with the misuse of prescription drugs. Usually any risks associated with natural substances fall within the following categories:
- Interference with the absorption of other vital nutrients
- Development of allergic reactions due to over use and/or too prolonged use
- Competition with, interference with, or duplication of the actions of other supplements or medications
Below is a brief list of common herbs, courtesy of A Prescription for Nutritional Healing, along with some corresponding condition, supplement, and medication combinations to avoid.
|Chamomile||other sedatives (medications)|
|Don Quai||diabetes (condition)|
|Echinacea||auto immune disorders (condition)-for prolonged periods of time|
|Ephedra||anxiety, diabetes, glaucoma, heart disease, hypertension, thyroid disease (conditions);monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor drugs|
|Fever Few||blood thinners, pain killers (medications)|
|Ginkgo||blood thinners, pain killers|
|Ginseng||asthma, heart disorders, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, insomnia (conditions)|
|Juniper||iron and other minerals|
|Kava Kava||alcohol, anti-anxiety, antidepressants (conditions and medications)|
|Lady’s Mantle||iron and other minerals|
|Uva Ursi||pregnancy (condition)|
Though the above should certainly not be used as a means of self medicating, it can make designing an appropriate and supportive nutritional supplement program a bit easier. Let your physician and health care professionals do the heavy lifting but take some time to do a little extra fact checking on your own.
Until next time…BeWell