Risks and Possible Side Effects Related to Taking the Herbal Product

Plant-based herbal products may be good medicines but could result in side effects like allergies. Be cautious while taking them. People often assume that all natural products are safe, and derived from leaves, flowers, and roots. Study and research along with consultations with medical experts should precede the taking of natural products. They could interfere with chemical medications. Some possible negative effects include seizures and fatigue, rashes, and asthma. Others are tachycardia, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Severe side Effects Could Occur

The world today witnesses a rapidly increasing use of herbal products as medications and therapy, aromatherapy among them. Research reveals certain adverse effects that are not generally known. Blind faith makes people think that natural products have no negative effects. Consider herbal products that contain ephedrine. They could result in seizures and death.

  • Regarding drug interactions, the immensely popular ginseng reduces the effectiveness of warfarin.

  • Gingko Biloba helps cognition but interacts with anticoagulants, antiplatelet agents, and causes bleeding.

  • St. John's Wort treats depression but increases serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels. Patients who take prescribed antidepressants should not take it.

The Danger of Adulteration

Seeking higher sales, unscrupulous manufacturers do not hesitate to add ingredients to increase effectiveness. Adulteration agents include pesticides and steroids, antibiotics, and harmful metals. Contamination may result in a greater effect but concurrently increases the dangers. Reckless use of herbal products could cause liver and kidney damage.

Rampant use in Traditional Societies

Plant products should also be classified as drugs. The truth is that plants produce toxins for survival that poisons predators. Medications from plants that are used in tiny doses could be poisonous in big doses. Some plant medications could result in kidney and liver damage. In the absence of research, even the adverse effects have not been recognized for ages. Nowadays, the dangers are better known. In Australia, many fail to inform doctors of the use of herbal products in the belief that they are not harmful. A large number of herbal products from Taiwan contained prescription medicines. Among other adulterations like steroids, psychoactive drugs are reported too. A majority of Chinese medical products contained extreme doses of arsenic, lead, and cadmium that could cause poisoning.

Watch out in Sensitive Cases

Administering herbal products to kids requires greater caution. Talk it over with a health professional along with online research to be better satisfied. Pregnancy situations and breastfeeding mothers too had better be doubly sure that the herbal products used will do no harm. Considering all the good results some herbs are capable of, it is better not to rule them out completely. Some cultures and especially the village and traditional societies make elaborate use of herbs on multiple occasions. Along with food and medicine, religious and social occasions require a variety of plants. The fruits, flowers, seeds, roots, bark, and stems may all be used.

Be on guard while taking herbal products. Rarely do difficult situations arise, maybe due to an allergy. If a new symptom arises, it might be an alarm bell. Discontinue the medication and report what happened to the doctor as a preventive.

Due to missing intensive research, confidence in herbs still lacks though traditional wisdom and experience support their use. Debates continue while large-scale use continues and occasionally a few people suffer, but rarely drastically. Though users believe in it, the use of St. John’s Wort to control depression still remains in doubt without strong research support. Similarly, Echinacea for treating colds remains in doubt. Ginseng has numerous followers to vouch for better cognitive and physical performance but scientific validity is lacking. Science does approve of cranberry for controlling women’s urinary tract infections.

Many Questions that Science does not Approve

Though commonly accepted and consumed for generations, a little doubt remains.

  • Does gingko biloba improve memory and the mind?

  • Can garlic control hypertension?

  • Can ginger treat nausea?

  • Can soy control menopausal symptoms?

Herbs Interact with Other Medications

Avoid suppression of details from the doctor. With a medical history like the diseases suffered and medications used past and present, a realistic assessment is possible.

  • Herbs might reduce the effectiveness of other medications

  • Side effects could occur with the interaction of herbs with other medicines

  • Difficult reactions and rarely dangerous effects could happen

  • Elderly patients stand at greater risk of negative effects

  • Most herbal products have no licensing or regulations in place

  • Packages may not contain detailed information about constituents

  • Traditional systems rather than science support such products

Who Should Avoid Herbal Medicines?

The following cases need to discuss the pros and cons in detail with specialists who may advise a break from herbals.

  • Serious cases of liver and kidney disease.

  • Those who are undertaking surgery, herbs interacting with anesthetics.

  • Herbs interfere with blood pressure and blood clotting, resulting in bleeding.

  • Persons who take hormonal medications.

  • Children and the elderly.

  • Pregnant women and breastfeeders.

Random Herbs and Controversial Effects

Some well-known herbs are taken for granted but lack research backing.


The most popular ginseng slows aging, it is believed. Other positive effects supposedly help diabetic conditions, heighten immunity, and boost sex. It might lower blood sugar levels. Avoid it if taking blood thinners.

Black Cohosh

Women find relief from hot flashes and night sweats during menopause. The liver stands at risk since the result may be a liver infection or failure. Women with breast cancer also need to avoid it.


Credited with many merits like reducing cholesterol and high blood pressure, garlic also helps colds. The danger comes from the blood thinning effect that prevents clotting. Those who have been prescribed blood-thinning medicines need to avoid it.

Licorice Root

Traditionally a cough, sore throat, infections, and stomach ulcer reliever, guard against the dangers. Those with heart problems stand at risk for raised blood pressure and heart rhythms. Large quantities could attract kidney disease.

Stinging Nettle

Many believe that it helps with dandruff, UTIs, allergies, arthritis, and kidney and bladder stones. Consuming it makes the body retain water. Those who take diuretics and those retaining fluid with heart and kidney problems should avoid it.

More and more are turning towards nature cures, avoiding chemical medicines. Enjoy all the supposedly miraculous effects of herbs. Make sure that possible negative effects and drug interactions can be avoided. In sensitive cases, a discussion with a doctor clears up doubts.

Updated on: 29-Mar-2023


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