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Feb 10

Herbal medicines can be hazardous

Posted by: charak in Ayurveda Print PDF
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A new pathological research has demonstrated that herbal medicine can lead to unwanted deaths, especially in people who consume too much of their natural remedies, or who combine such substances with prescription medication.  University of Adelaide forensic pathologist Professor Roger Byard underlines the fact that many herbal chemicals have very toxic compounds inside, which can kill an adult on their own when taken in excessive quantities, or when combined with other chemicals from other drugs.

Naturopaths agree that there are dangers in herbal medicines for people who self-diagnose and then ''treat'' themselves with off-the-shelf products. However, they say the industry is generally well regulated.

The problem is compounded when herbs are contaminated, poorly processed or replaced with a cheaper alternative.

"These substances may cause serious illnesses, exacerbate pre-existing health problems or result in death, particularly if taken in excess or injected rather than ingested."
"Herbal medicines are frequently mixed with standard drugs, presumably to make them more effective. This can also have devastating results," Byard says.

Many common herbs could cause severe side effects when used with conventional medicine, such as negating the effect of blood-thinning agent warfarin or making epileptic seizures more frequent.

Ginkgo and garlic also increase the risk of bleeding with anticoagulants and certain herbal remedies such as Borage Oil and Evening Primrose Oil lower the seizure threshold in epileptics, said a university release.

 ''I'm not saying don't take them - herbal medicine is a time-honoured practice with real benefits,'' Professor Byard said. ''But you should talk to your doctor and work it out together.''

On a newly done research, Dr Shyam Mani Adhikari pointed out that there is no laboratory facility or well established mechanism for standardization and monitoring so far in Nepal  to assure and control the quality of such medicines, many questions are raised regarding the quality, safety and efficacy of these medicines. Hence, substandard Ayurvedic medicines also might have been brought to the market which not only defames Ayurvedic physicians and decreases faith to the Ayurveda but also creates a risk of public health hazards.

He recommended that it requires very urgent and serious multi-dimensional attempts by concerned authorities and other stakeholders to manage and regulate this situation.

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