Toxicity And Adverse Health Effects Of Herbal Medicines

The use of herbal medicines have sharply seen an incline over the past few years. It is therefore very substantive to say majority of the world’s population now rely on them for some part of primary healthcare.

Although therapies involving the use of herbal medicines have shown promising potential with the efficacy of a good number of herbal medicines scientifically ascertained, many of them however remain untested. This makes their use either poorly regulated or not regulated at all.

The consequence of this error in herbal medicinal use could be inadequate knowledge of their mode of action, potential adverse reactions, contraindications, and interactions with existing orthodox pharmaceuticals and functional products. This makes it very difficult to promote both safe and rational use of herbal medicines.

In most countries, herbal medicines and related products are introduced into the market without any mandatory standard or toxicological examinations. And these drugs remain untested because people are of the view that herbal medicines are very safe and devoid of adverse effects which is not only untrue, but very misleading.

Some Common Herbal Medicines And Their Side Effects

  • Garlic

Garlic has become a popular herbal medicinal remedy used as both food and medicines. It is known to properly manage hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Scientifically it is known to contain alliin, which on handling in the absence of heat or acid becomes activated by alliinase to allicin.

Adverse effects associated with garlic extract includes burning sensation in the gastrointestinal tract, nausea, diaphoresis, and lightheadedness. Garlic extract may also cause contact dermatitis and morbid spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma when an individually excessively consume it, solely.

  • Ginseng

Ginseng is popularly used in the management of a variety of health conditions. It can also be found in several products such as elixirs, extracts, tea, as well as capsules and tablets that may differ in terms of content extracted from the dried root.

The most common side effects that have been observed are headache, dizziness, restlessness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermal sensitivity transient nervousness, excitation, insomnia, inability to concentrate, epistaxis, and allergies.

  • St John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum,which is popularly popularly known as St. John’s wort, contains active compounds, such as hypericin, hyperforin, and melatonin which have potentials of treating viral infections.

Adverse effects reportedly associated with its use include allergic reactions, headache, dizziness, restlessness, fatigue, dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and photosensitivity.

It must however be noted that adverse reactions to herbal medicines could be attributed to the inappropriate diagnostic and treatment decision-making. The above mentioned herbal remedies and their adverse side effects are to give you a general overview of how self diagnosis, and inappropriate production and usage of herbal medicines regardless of their efficacy can have on the user.

Leave a Comment