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Planning Retirement Online

The danger of herbal remedies

                                        October 2010  


The danger of herbal remedies

Herbal remediesNatural products such as leaves, flowers, berries and roots have been used for centuries to treat various problems and illnesses.

Today they show no sign of abating; people love the idea that using something natural can alleviate problems and the internet has helped to spread the word. The ready availability of herbal medicine and treatments, both in high street shops and on line, has also helped to increase the popularity of herbal remedies.

However, there is a downside. While most chemical medication is carefully licensed, controlled and often supervised by professionals, many use herbal remedies for self treatment relying solely on what they have learned from friends or the internet. Some natural herbal remedies have quite strong side effects and some can cause serious problems if taken in anything over a minimum dose level.

Also, some items which are used in homoeopathic treatment centres can be very diluted, while people who buy similar remedies over the counter may not fully understand the strength and potency of the product.

One product recently advertised on the internet as herbal viagra actually contained a number of undeclared ingredients that could cause serious side effects such as heart and blood pressure problems. While some claim that St John’s wort can be a really effective treatment for depression, it can also cause severe side effects such as dry mouth, stomach pains and dizziness and can also interact vigorously with prescription drugs such as Warfarin making it a dangerous mix.

One product, known as herbal valium or monkshood and used to calm nerves, can contain aconite, something that is extremely dangerous if not thoroughly diluted. A herbal tea made with aconite root can be fatal.

The jury is still out on herbal medicine. Some professionals claim vigorously that there is such minimal evidence that many products do any good at all that they should be discounted. Red clover, black cohosh and the Chinese thunder god wine are said to have no proof whatsoever that they actually give any benefit; the thunder god vine can also be extremely poisonous.

There is increasing demand for herbal medicines to be properly regulated with fully qualified, registered professionals. The Medicines and Healthcare Products’ Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued various warnings and advises people to check that any products they buy has the mark THR (Traditional Herbal Register) or PL (Product Licence) number on the label.

But the main thing is not to buy anything over the internet or indeed from any other sources unless you are absolutely sure of the content, the manufacturer, its potency and any possible side effects.

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