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So What’s in The Bottle? Part – V Dietary Supplements and Serious illness/Disease


This is Part V of a series on herbal supplements. For those who are suffering from and/or diagnosed with an illness herbal supplements may present an even greater risk.

According to the Hepatitis Foundation International” Doctors are very concerned that many herbal-related liver injuries go unrecognized because patients are often not asked about the use of herbs and diet supplements. Herbal remedies contain multiple ingredients, and the labeled and actual contents of a product may differ. This makes it impossible to identify liver injury rates for specific herbs.”

Although the FDA has issued a new RULE effective June 1, 2008 that rolls out over a three (3) year period   requiring manufacturers to place warning labels on products, it would only apply to the larger companies of 500 employee’s; thus leaving a significant portion of the industry unregulated. According to a recent article, Dr. Raymond S. Koff “questions the role herbal products play in undefined hepatitis and fulminant (sudden and severe) disease. In almost 50% of patients, fulminant disease cannot be related to any identified hepatitis viruses. Liver injury directly related to repeated use of herbal products ranges from limited to extensive disease. Dr. Koff believes that unrecognized herbal use may be the cause of many unidentified cases of hepatitis and cirrhosis.”

A list of dietary supplements has been posted, by Hepatitis C Support Project, that “could be potentially toxic to the liver or kidneys and are to be avoided especially for those individuals who would be considered high risk.”
The growing concern has gotten the attention of the American Society of Anesthesiologist.

“Anesthesiologists are conducting research to determine exactly how certain herbs and dietary supplements interact with certain anesthetics. They are finding that certain herbal medicines may prolong the effects of anesthesia. Others may increase the risks of bleeding or raise blood pressure. Some effects may be subtle and less critical, but for anesthesiologists anticipating a possible reaction is better than reacting to an unexpected condition. So it is very important to tell your doctor about everything you take before surgery.”

According to Natural Standard: 

”Some natural medicine experts discourage the use of echinacea by people with conditions affecting the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, some types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, tuberculosis, and rheumatologic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus”

The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)  advises that “It is important to consult your health care provider before using an herbal supplement, especially if you are taking any medications (whether prescription or over-the-counter).” Some herbal supplements are known to interact with medications in ways that cause health problems. Even if your provider does not know about a particular supplement, he can access the latest medical guidance on its uses, risks, and interactions. If you use herbal supplements, it is best to do so under the guidance of a medical professional who has been properly trained in herbal medicine.

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