More MS news articles for Feb 2002

Harmful Herbal Reactions

February 25, 2002
Ivanhoe Newswire

When you're taking prescription medication, it seems you'll find all you need to know about possible dangers right on the label. But what about the interaction a drug can have with an herbal supplement? Although many herbs are natural, they could be deadly if mixed with the wrong drugs. Here is more on these dangerous herbal reactions.

When you get a prescription filled, the label says what drugs may interact with yours. Rarely mentioned are natural herbal supplements.

Kristen Jonas Morse, Pharm.D., of Florida Hospital in Celebration, says, "Unfortunately, everyone thinks all-natural means all-safe, when it doesn't at all. I like to kind of remind patients that cocaine is all natural."

Herbs can cause problems when mixed with certain drugs. Take Saint John's Wort, for example.

"St. John's Wort can have a decreased effectiveness of birth control pills," says Morse.

Ginseng can lower blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for diabetics. Ginkgo biloba enhances the effects of blood thinners.

Morse says, "So, if you're taking a prescription blood thinner already, and then taking one of these herbal products that can do that as well, then it majorly increases your risk of having a bleed, and a bleed in the brain.

Herbals were a part of Michelle Sindy's everyday life. That is until she was sidelined with a blood clot in her leg. When doctors put her on a blood thinner, Sindy played it safe. She took all her herbs to her doctor.

Sindy says, "I consider myself a fairly educated person, a college degree and everything, but I never would have guessed that herbs would have affected my medication."

She did what experts say all patients should do -- research every drug you take and ask questions.

Now herb-free and a tai chi enthusiast, Sindy is slowly getting back into step.

Morse points out there are safe herbal supplements like garlic, fish oil, glucosamine and soy. Most of these natural products are recognized by the FDA as safe and have few negative effects when used with prescription medication. She says herbs to stay away from are DHEA, red yeast and ma huang.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Kristin Jonas Morse, Pharm.D.
Florida Hospital
Celebration Health
400 Celebration Place
Celebration, FL 34747
(407) 303-4061

Copyright © 2002 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc