Hopking's Herbal - BC - A concise list of herbs, actions and uses
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Hopking's Herbal - B C
All these herbs are available from Herbactive Botanicals as:
1. Organic tinctures made according to the British Herbal Pharmacopoeia
2. Organic alcohol-free concentrated tinctures
50. Ballota nigra (Black Horehound tops) - anti-emetic, sedative; nausea & vomiting, motion
51. Ballota nigra (Black Horehound tops) - anti-emetic, sedative; nausea & vomiting, motion sickness, morning sickness, nervous dyspepsia.
52. Baptisia tinctoria (Wild Indigo root) 1:10 - anti-microbial, anti-catarrhal, anti-septic, febrifuge; infections: especially infection of upper respiratory tract, catarrh, mouth ulcers, lymphatic swelling. Ext: indolent ulcers, sore nipples, leucorrhoea (douche). Dose 2-5ml.
Barosma betulina - Buchu (see Agathosma).
53. Berberis aquifolium (Oregon Grape root) - alterative, anti-emetic, mild cholagogue and laxative. Chronic scaly skin, psoriasis, eczema; catarrhal gastritis with cholecystitis, nausea and vomiting. see Skin Tonic
54. Berberis vulgaris (Barberry bark) - cholagogue, anti-emetic, bitter tonic; liver tonic, specific for gall stones: jaundice (cholecystitis, cholelithiasis), leishmaniasis, splenomegaly, spleen tonic causing splenic contractions (BHP), malaria. C/I pregnancy.
55. Betula alba (Silver Birch lvs) - diuretic, anti-septic; cystitis, kidney stones, skin problems, mildly sedative.
56. Bidens pilosa (beggarticks, Spanish needles, Demon spike grass, Needle grass, Black Jack, Gui Zhen Cao) – B. pilosa is an extraordinary source of phytochemicals, particularly flavonoids and polyynes. Plant flavonoids are commonly reported to possess cancer preventing actions, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other bioactivities. Scientific studies, although not extensive, have demonstrated that B. pilosa extracts and/or compounds have antitumor, antiinflammatory, antidiabetic and antihyperglycemic, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, antimalarial, antibacterial, antifungal, antihypertensive, vasodilatory, and antiulcerative activities.
57. Biota orientalis (Arborvitae tops, Ce Bai Ye, Cupressaceae) Chinese Herb - astringent, haemostatic, detoxification, antitussive; expectorant; anti-asthmatic, anti-bacterial; promotes hair growth; bleeding conditions (in lungs, uterus, etc), chronic bronchitis, RA pain; bitter, astringent, slightly cold. LU LIV LI. see Hair Growth
58. Borago officinalis (Borage leaves) - diuretic, demulcent, diaphoretic, galactagogue, tonic; adrenal restorative, stress; restorative for convalescence, nervous conditions, anti-inflammatory, pulmonary problems (lungs), kidney irritations, catarrhal conditions. see Adrenal Tonic
59. Boswellia carterii (Mastic Tree, frankincense, Ru Xiang) - analgesic by invigorating blood circulation, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, haemostatic, antitussive; regenerative - promotes muscle growth (steroidal? Vitaligo?) ; abdominal pain; trauma of wounds; pungent, bitter, cold; HE LIV SP. Ext: stubborn abscesses and boils.
60. Brassica alba (White Mustard Seed, Bai Jie Zi) Chinese Herb - cough with phlegm, pleurisy, TB, warms the lung, resolves lumps by invigorating the circulation with qi, pain in joints and extremities with numbness; pungent, warm. LU, ST
62. Breast Milk, herbs for: Galega, Trigonella, Anethum, Vitex, Carum. See MilkMore Tonic
63. Breast size, herbs to increase: Trigonella. Seranoa. Damiana. Cola. Cinchona. Galega. (Best results appears to be a combination of Trigon. and Galega). see Breast Enhancement
64. Bryonia dioica (White Bryony root) 1:10 - pectoral, expectorant, diaphoretic, powerful cathartic and hydragogue (purgative which produces abundant watery discharge), emetic (large dose); constipation, whooping cough, bronchitis, pleurisy, RA pain, lumbago; amenorrhoea (large dose). Ext: myalgia (muscular pains). Dose 0.06-0.6ml (BPC 1934) (12.6ml per week tds). NB: Large dose may precipitate menstruation or cause haemorrhoid trouble. C/I pregnancy.
65. Bupleurum scorzoneraefolium (Thorowax or Hares Ear root, Chai Hu) Chinese Herb - anti-pyretic; stagnant liver; malaria; pain in chest; Qi elevate; prolapse of rectum, womb; bitter, neutral; SP LIV GB P TRIPLE-B. Allergies (blocks serotonin), bone disease (abnormal cell formation) (enhances production of interferon), kidney disease (proteinuria), RA. see HerbShield and Bones
66. Calendula officinalis (Marigold flowers) - anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, haemorrhagic, anti-fungal, skin, bruises; duodenal ulcers; Ext: fungus (with Tea Tree Oil), crural ulcer, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, eczema, inflamed skin. see Fungal Tonic
67. Calluna vulgaris (Heather flowers, leaves) - anti-septic, diuretic, antimicrobial, vulnerary, astringent, kidney urinary infections, acne, cystitis. see Spots and Acne
68. Camellia sinensis (Green Tea) - cellular protection - esp. in git, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, colon and lung. Potent antioxidant. Used as part of a weight control programme due to its thermogenic properties. Active constits: catechins. [Black tea, fine, successfully used in poultice for varicose ulcers].
69. Cannabis sativa (Hemp, Cannabis seed, Huo Ma Ren) - Sweet, neutral. SP ST LI. Aperient/emollient. Constipation of the debilitated or aged person. Laxative, increases peristalsis; lowers BP.
70. Acting as a preventative against cancer are the following herbs: Breast: Viola od. Tarax fol. Forsythia and anti-neoplastic non-oestrogenic herbs. Oestrogenic Herbs to avoid: Pimpinella. Trillium. Cimicifuga. Sambucus. Angelica sinensis. Evening primrose. Foeniculum. Humulus. Glycyrrhiza. Salvia. Smilax. Aletris. (Do not use with breast abnormal cell formation), uterine abnormal cell formation, growths, fibroids, endometriosis, cysts; any oestrogen dependent abnormal cell formation). See also HRT. Curcuma (lowers abnormal cell formation risk (smokers, farmers)). Podophyllum (all abnormal cell formations, esp ovarian, also in ointment for skin abnormalities). Oldenlandia (GIT). Scutellaria barbata - Ban Zhi Lian (abnormal cell formation in lungs, stomach and intestines). Symphytum. Tabebuia. Thuja (uterus). Trifolium. Uncaria (general and skin). Viola od (breast, GIT). Galium. Sanguinaria (sarcoma, tumours). Viscum. Chelidonium (skin). Ferula (lung). Pfaffia (esp melanoma). Psoralea. Forsythia (breast). Ruscus (skin). Tarax fol (breast/lung). Trigonella (liver and uterine, cervix). Verbena (abdominal). See HerbShield and Caisse - formula for life threatening illness
71. Candida albicans (and thrush), herbs for: Alpinia. Tabe. Ech. Berb vulg. Berb aq. Coptis. Matric. Hydrast. Art abs. See Candida and Thrush
72. Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd’s Purse herb, Ji Cai) - haemostatic, uterine bleeding, endometriosis, haemorrhage, menorrhagia, diuretic, HBP; sweet, cool; LIV ST SI BL
73. Capsicum minimum (Cayenne pepper seed) - spasmolytic, diaphoretic; systemic stimulant, carminative, circulatory and digestive tonic, colic, circulation - peripheral insufficiency, chronic laryngitis (gargle). Dry mouth. Ext: lumbago (lotion), neuralgia, RA pain, unbroken chilblains. Dose 1:20 60% 0.3-1ml (BPC 1968); strong 1:3 60% 0.06-0.2ml (BPC 1934).
74. Carduus benedictus (Holy Thistle aerial parts = Cnicus ben.) - bitter tonic, stomachic, anti-diarrhoeal, anti-haemorrhagic, anti-biotic, bacteriostatic; anorexia, increases gastric and biliary flow, increases appetite, flatulent dyspepsia, bronchial catarrh. Ext: gangrenous and indolent ulcers. see flatulence and wind
75. Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower flowers, Hong Hua) - invigorates circulation of blood and removes blood stasis; analgesic. Uses: amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, abdominal pain and tumor; traumatic injury; hepatomegaly and splenomegaly. C/I pregnancy. Produces tonic or rhythmic contraction. Higher dose increases autonomic contraction rate. Fast acting and endures long. Dilates coronary artery. Lowers blood pressure and for a long period of time. Acts on smooth tissue of intestines, blood vessels and bronchi. Protects ischemic and anoxic brain injury; effective for ischaemic cerebral diseases. Lowers cholesterol, lipids and triglyceride. See Synergy Pluss and Memory enhancement
76. Carum carvi (Caraway seeds) - carminative, anti-spasmodic, dysmenorrhoea; flatulent dyspepsia, intestinal colic, increases appetite, anorexia.
77. Cassia angustifolia (Senna leaf and pods, Fan Xie Ye leaf) - cathartic, to eliminate excess heat in body; purgative, constipation, abdominal fullness; sweet, bitter; very cold; LI. NB: The leaf is stronger than the fruits. see Herbal Laxatives or Extra Strong Laxative
78. Cassia tora (Cassia seed, Jue Ming Zi) Chinese Herb - Acute eye inflammation and tearing; all eye problems, eye soreness and sensitivity to light, laxative - safe natural-acting, HBP; anti-cholesterol; sweet, bitter, salty; LIV LI. See SeeMore
79. Caulophyllum thalictroides (Blue Cohosh rhizomes and roots) - uterine tonic, emmenagogue; pregnancy, miscarriage, dysmenorrhoea, uterine atony.
80. Centella asiatica (Gotu Cola aerial parts) (= Hydrocotyl asiatica) - vascular problems, leg ulcers (tissue repair), significant benefits in the treatment of cellulite, varicose veins, memory loss, peripheral vasodilator (esp. lower legs), Alzheimer’s disease, Raynaud’s phenomenon, brain enhancement, skin problems, antirheumatic, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia. Ext: indolent wounds, leg ulcers, cicatrisation after surgery. See ME and FM
81. Cephaelis ipecacuanha (Ipecacuanha root and rhizome) - expectorant, emetic (large dose), sialagogue; bronchitis, whooping cough, laryngitis, amoebic dysentery, poisoning (emetic). C/I general debility, shock, cardiac disease.
82. Cetraria islandica (Iceland Moss) - demulcent, expectorant; gastritis, dyspepsia, vomiting, catarrh, debility, bronchitis.
83. Chamaelirium lutea (False Unicorn root) - uterine tonic, hormonal amphoteric; amenorrhoea, ovarian pain, threatened miscarriage, morning sickness, nausea and vomiting. Dose: 1:5 45% 2-5ml. Endangered species; by special order only.
84. Chelidonium majus (Greater Celandine aerial parts) - anti-spasmodic, cholagogue, anodyne; gall bladder infections, gall stones - specific. Ext: The fresh juice for tinea, eczema, verrucae and malignant tumours of the skin. Dose: 1:10 45% 2-4ml. (BHP)
85. Chelone glabra (Balmony aerial parts) 1:10 - cholagogue, anti-emetic, anti-depressant, stimulant, laxative; gallstones inflammation, jaundice, digestive aid, anorexia, intestinal colic, debility. Dose: 1:10 45% 1-2ml. Difficult to obtain.
86. Chicken Pox and Infections, herbs for: Astrag. Bapt. Ech. Commi. Phytolac. Uncar. Solid. Chelid. Pueraria lobata (Kudzu Vine Root, Ge Gen). order this tonic
87. Chionanthus virginica (Fringe-tree root bark) - hepatic disease, cholagogue, alterative; gallstones & inflammation, anti-emetic, splenomegaly, portal hypertension, glycosuria, liver disease. see Spleen Tonic or Liver Tonic
88. Chondrus crispus (Irish Moss, Carrageen) - demulcent, nutritive, anti-tussive, emollient; convalescence, cachexia (ill-conditioned state of body or mind), dyspepsia, gastritis, bronchitis, cystitis, atonic dyspepsia with nausea and heartburn. Ext: chapped hands (lotion), dermatitis.
89. Chrysanthemum parthenium (Feverfew leaf) - anti-inflammatory, vasodilator, relaxant, bitter; migraine, arthritis, dizziness and tinnitus. C/I pregnancy.
90. Chrysanthemum morifolium (Chrysanthemum fl, Ju Hua) Chinese Herb - common cold (wind heat), headache, blood-shot eyes, improves vision; sedative; eyes - improves sight; eyes - aching; dizziness; HBP; abscesses; sweet, bitter, slightly cold; LU LIV. See SeeMore
91. Cibotium barometz (Cibot rhizome, Gou Ji) - anti-rheumatic, liver - tonifies, kidney - tonifies, aching back and knees (muscles and RA), lumbago; sweet, bitter, warm; LIV KI. Rare herb.
92. Cimicifuga foetida (Cimicifuga tuber, Sheng Ma) Chinese Herb - diaphoretic, detoxification; common cold with sore throat, measles, headache, gingivitis, stomatitis (sore mouth), prolapse of rectum and uterus; pungent, sweet, slightly bitter and cold; LU, SP, ST, LI. See Detox
93. Cimicifuga racemosa (Black Cohosh root) - anti-rheumatic, antitussive, sedative, emmenagogue, anti-spasmodic, alterative; dysmenorrhoea, ovarian cramp, pain in uterus, abortifacient (induces birth), RA, sciatica, neuralgia, tinnitus, intercostal myalgia, whooping cough, chorea; specific for arthritis and muscular rheumatism. Dose: 1:10 60% 2-4ml.
94. Cinchona officinalis (Peruvian Bark) - febrifuge, bitter, orexigenic, febrifuge, spasmolytic, anti-protozoal (worms, parasites); splenomegaly, anorexia, dyspepsia, hyperchlorhydria (stomach acidity), cramp, myalgia (fibromyalgia), heart relaxant; malaria and fever, digestive, palpitations, general debility. C/I pregnancy. Dose: BPC 1949: 2-4ml Maximum dose (Medicines Act Order 1977, 2130) 250mg bark, is approx. Equivalent to 2.5ml Tr. Cinchona 1:10. See Parasites or Malaria
95. Cinnamomum camphora (Camphor, Zhang Nao) Chinese Herb - to open the orifices (aromatic stimulant), to resolve dampness and kill germs, anti-inflammatory and analgesic; loss of consciousness, coma, skin diseases, traumatic injury; pungent, hot, toxic. HE. C/I pregnancy, qi xu, insomnia, nephritis. Dose 0.03-0.06 gm. Rare herb.
96. Cinnamomum cassia (Cinnamon twigs, Gui Zhi) Chinese Herb - diaphoretic, to warm the channels and collaterals, to promote the circulation of Yang Qi in the chest, to promote the blood circulation; common cold, chest pain, palpitation, RA pain, oedema, dysuria, abdominal fullness, arthritis pain, amenorrhoea, angina; pungent, sweet, warm; HE LU BL. C/I pregnancy.
97. Cinnamomum japonicum (Cinnamon bark Gui Pi) Chinese Herb - to warm the spleen and stomach, to dispel cold and relieve pain, to invigorate the circulation of blood; GIT pain due to cold, lumbago, RA pain, anaemia; pungent, warm; HE LIV SP KI. C/I pregnancy.
98. Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Cinnamon inner bark) - spasmolytic, carminative, orexigenic, anti-diarrhoeal, anti-microbial, refrigerant, anthelmintic; flatulent dyspepsia, anorexia, intestinal colic, infantile diarrhoea, common cold, influenza (flu) astringent, aromatic, stimulant; digestive, nausea and vomiting. Dose: 2-4ml.
99. Circulatory Stimulants, herbs as (also Raynaud’s): Ang sin. Armoracia. Astrag*. Boswell. Brass*. Capsic*. Cinn gz/gp. Eleuth. Ephed. Euronym. Gink*. Myric*. Pan not. Puer. Rheum*. Rosm. Rubia cord. Rusc*. Salv milt. Sanguin. Styrax*. Syzyg. Vaccin*. Xanthox*. Zing*. (* esp. indicated for leg ulcers) (see ulcers as main entry for more herbs for internal and external use). See Heart and Circulation
100. Cistanche salsa (Broomrape fleshy stems, Rou Cong Rong) Chinese Herb - tonic to kidney yang, demulcent laxative, aphrodisiac; impotence, spermatorrhoea, premature ejaculation, lumbago, weak bones and sinews (osteoporosis, menopause), constipation due to dry intestines; tonifies yin and yang, lowers blood pressure; sweet, salty, warm; KI, LI.
101. Citrus reticulata (Mandarin Orange, pericarp of tangerine/mandarin, Chen Pi) Chinese Herb - tonify and regulate spleen qi (carminative), dispel dampness and phlegm (expectorant), dyspepsia, gastrointestinal distension, cough with profuse phlegm, hiccup, vomiting; pungent, bitter, warm; LU, SP.
102. Codonopsis pilosula (Poor Man’s Ginseng, Dang Shen root) - to invigorate the function of spleen and stomach; to replenish the vital energy of spleen and lung; to promote the secretion of body fluids. Use: palpitations, shortness of breath, weakness of limbs, poor appetite, loose bowel; thirst, anaemia, chronic haemorrhage. Sweet, neutral; SP, LU. Pharma: stimulates the CNS; increases phagocytosis; increases the ability to fight against diseases; lowers blood pressure (BP) by dilating peripheral blood vessels and inhibiting adrenalin; increases the WBC and RBC (used esp. for patients in chemotherapy or radiotherapy), lupus; increases red blood cells and haemoglobin - used for anaemia and chronic bleeding conditions; decreases protein in urine (chronic nephritis); increases blood sugar.
Cnicus benedictus - Blessed Thistle (see Carduus).
103. Cola vera (Kola nuts) - stimulant to higher centres of CNS, thymoleptic, anti-depressive, diuretic, cardioactive, anti-diarrhoeal; depression, general muscular weakness (e.g. fibromyalgia), exhaustion, dysentery, atonic diarrhoea, anorexia, migraine, nervine, anti-depressive, debility. Dose: 1:5 60% 1-4ml (BPC 1934).
104. Collinsonia canadensis (Stone root) - diuretic (strong), anti-lithic, diaphoretic (mild); urinary & gallstones, kidney stones, strong diuretic. Dose: 1:5 40% 2-8ml. Tincture BPC 1934 25% 2-8ml. see StoneLess Tonic
105. Commiphora molmol (Myrrh gum) - anti-microbial, astringent, carminative, anti-catarrhal, expectorant, vulnerary, immunostimulant. Increases WBC and defences, infections, mouth ulcers, pyorrhoea, pharyngitis, sinusitis, boils, glandular fever, brucellosis. Ext. healing and anti-septic for wounds and abrasions, cold sores. Dose: Tincture BPC 1973 1-2.5ml. Tincture Myrrh Comp. (Thompsons) 1 part Tincture Capsicum BPC 1973 to 4 parts Tincture Myrrh BPC 1973 1-2.5ml. Commiphora myrrha (Mo Yao) Chinese Herb - analgesic, traumatic pain and swelling; to promote the healing of wounds. Pharmacological Action: bronchial secretion - reduces, uterus - reduces secretion from, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, weight - decreases, mouth-wash, peristalsis - increases; bitter, neutral; HE LIV SP; C/I pregnancy.
106. Coleus forskohlii (Forskolin, Makandi) - Asthma, eczema, hay fever (potent antihistamine), high blood pressure (dilates blood vessels). C/I do not use in osteoporosis (can cause demineralisation). Highly aromatic. Rare herb.
107. Convallaria majus (Lily of Valley leaves) - cardioactive, diuretic; heart failure, oedema - water retention (dropsy), congestion (heart and lung difficulty), cardiac asthma, palpitation. Dose: 1:5 40% 0.5-2ml. Tincture BPC 1934 1:8 60% 0.3-1.2ml
108. Coptis chinensis (Golden Thread root, Huang Lian) Chinese Herb - diarrhoea, sedative, acute enteritis, dysentery, insomnia, fidget, twitch, delirium (high fever), mouth and tongue inflammation, leukaemia (abnormal cell formation), conjunctivitis (eye redness) and eye disorders, otitis media (ears inflamed), anti-toxin (detoxification); bitter, cold; HE LIV ST LI. Pharm: anti-bacterial, HBP, cholagogue, anti-diuretic (for urinary incontinence), parasites, osteomyelitis (bone infection), increases brain alertness. See mental enhancement and brain
109. Cordyceps - rebalances inflammatory cytokines, strongly improves a low immune system as an adaptogenic, it stimulates ATP generation by mitochondria and antioxidant activity, strongly modulatory on immune cells, and highly protective on the cells in the kidney system [tubular epithelial cells], improves learning and reduces memory impairment, improves testosterone and sperm count and motility, for mycoplasma treatment in a tincture or taken as a powder [up to 3Tbsp three times daily for serious infections], (also in the ABCD Powder). HerbShield. InflammationLess. WormLess.
110. Coriandrum sativum (Coriander seed) - carminative, anti-spasmodic, appetiser, stomachic, aromatic; flatulence (wind), colic, diarrhoea (esp. children), appetite, aphrodisiac. See Wind
111. Cnidium monnieri (Umbelliferae; Conidium fruit, She Chung Zi) Chinese Herb - tonic to kidney yang, anti-rheumatic, anti-septic, aphrodisiac, astringent, stimulant; kidney yang deficiency - impotence and female sterility; Ext: vaginal itching and infections, abscesses and ringworm (use as decoction); pungent, bitter, warm; KI.
112. Crataegus oxyacanthoides (Hawthorn leaf, flower, berry) - cardiac tonic; hypotensive, arteriosclerosis, angina, heart failure, palpitations (use leaf in preference to berry), cholesterol, arteriosclerosis, Buerger’s disease, paroxysmal tachycardia. Dose: 1:5 45% 1-2ml. See Heart and Circulation
113. Curcuma longa (Turmeric root, Jiang Huang) Chinese Herb - Anti-inflammatory for RA, eczema, psoriasis, CVS disease (lowers cholesterol), dissolves clots, thrombosis; protects and prevents abnormal cell formation risk (esp. smokers, farmers), increases gastric and hepatic function; haemostatic, amenorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea, pain in chest and abdomen, traumatic injury, bleeding in lungs, bladder and nose; RA pain. Ext: RA, inflamed skin, psoriasis, infections of skin; semi-conscious states, hysteria; jaundice; pungent, bitter, cold. HE, LU, LIV. Best made as 1:1 45% 35-100ml per week. Recent studies comparing the activities of turmeric's active curcuminoids with some steroidal and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs indicate similar action and results (reduced swelling and pain) with no risks or side-effects. Powerful antioxidant, liver protective and bile secreting effects.
114. Cuscuta chinensis (Dodder seed, Tu Si Zi) Chinese Herb - kidney deficiency, impotence, premature ejaculation, spermatorrhoea, frequent micturition, incontinence, fertility, vertigo, tinnitus, lumbago, eyesight; nutrient to bones and sinews and cartilage (osteoporosis); pungent, sweet, neutral; LIV KI.
115. Cytisus scoparius (Broom tops) - Cardioactive diuretic, peripheral vasoconstrictor, anti-haemorrhagic; weak heart, low BP, oedema, myocardial weakness, tachycardia, menorrhagia. C/I pregnancy.
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General advice to consumers on the use of herbal remedies from the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK
• Remember that herbal remedies are medicines. As with any other medicine they are likely to have an effect on the body and should be used with care. • Herbal remedies may sometimes interact with other medicines. This makes it particularly important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a herbal remedy with other medicines such as prescribed medicines (those provided through your doctor or dentist). • Treat with caution any suggestion that a herbal remedy is '100% safe' or is 'safe because it is natural'. Many plants, trees, fungi and algae can be poisonous to humans. It is worth remembering that many pharmaceuticals have been developed or derived from these sources because of the powerful compounds they contain. Any medicine, including herbal remedies, which have an effect on the body should be used with care. • Treat with caution any herbalist or other person who supplies herbal remedies if they are unwilling or unable to provide written information, in English, listing the ingredients of the herbal remedy they are providing. • If you are due to have a surgical operation you should always remember to tell your doctor about any herbal remedy that you are taking. • Anyone who has previously experienced any liver complaint, or any other serious health complaint is advised not to take any herbal remedy without speaking to their doctor first.
Few conventional medicines have been established as safe to take during pregnancy and it is generally recognised that no medicine should be taken unless the benefit to the mother outweighs any possible risk to the foetus. This rule should also be applied to herbal medicinal products. However, herbal products are often promoted to the public as being “natural” and completely “safe” alternatives to conventional medicines. Some herbal ingredients that specifically should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy. As with conventional medicines, no herbal products should be taken during pregnancy unless the benefit outweighs the potential risk.
Many herbs are traditionally reputed to be abortifacient and for some this reputation can be attributed to their volatile oil component.(6) A number of volatile oils are irritant to the genito-urinary tract if ingested and may induce uterine contractions. Herbs that contain irritant volatile oils include ground ivy, juniper, parsley, pennyroyal, sage, tansy and yarrow. Some of these oils contain the terpenoid constituent, thujone, which is known to be abortifacient. Pennyroyal oil also contains the hepatotoxic terpenoid constituent, pulegone. A case of liver failure in a woman who ingested pennyroyal oil as an abortifacient has been documented.
A stimulant or spasmolytic action on uterine muscle has been documented for some herbal ingredients including blue cohosh, burdock, fenugreek, golden seal, hawthorn, jamaica dogwood, motherwort, nettle, raspberry, and vervain. Herbal Teas Increased awareness of the harmful effects associated with excessive tea and coffee consumption has prompted many individuals to switch to herbal teas. Whilst some herbal teas may offer pleasant alternatives to tea and coffee, some contain pharmacologically active herbal ingredients, which may have unpredictable effects depending on the quantity of tea consumed and strength of the brew. Some herbal teas contain laxative herbal ingredients such as senna, frangula, and cascara. In general stimulant laxative preparations are not recommended during pregnancy and the use of unstandardised laxative preparations is particularly unsuitable. A case of hepatotoxicity in a newborn baby has been documented in which the mother consumed a herbal tea during pregnancy as an expectorant. Following analysis the herbal tea was reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are known to be hepatotoxic.
A drug substance taken by a breast-feeding mother presents a hazard if it is transferred to the breast milk in pharmacologically or toxicologically significant amounts. Limited information is available regarding the safety of conventional medicines taken during breast-feeding. Much less information exists for herbal ingredients, and generally the use of herbal remedies is not recommended during lactation.
Herbal remedies have traditionally been used to treat both adults and children. Herbal remedies may offer a milder alternative to some conventional medicines, although the suitability of a herbal remedy needs to be considered with respect to quality, safety and efficacy. Herbal remedies should be used with caution in children and medical advice should be sought if in doubt. Chamomile is a popular remedy used to treat teething pains in babies. However, chamomile is known to contain allergenic sesquiterpene lactones and should therefore be used with caution. The administration of herbal teas to children needs to be considered carefully and professional advice may be needed.
The need for patients to discontinue herbal medicinal products prior to surgery has recently been proposed. The authors considered eight commonly used herbal medicinal products (echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St John’s Wort, valerian). On the evidence available they concluded that the potential existed for direct pharmacological effects, pharmacodynamic interactions and pharmacokinetic interactions. The need for physicians to have a clear understanding of the herbal medicinal products being used by patients and to take a detailed history was highlighted. The American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) has advised patients to tell their doctor if they are taking herbal products before surgery and has reported that a number of anaesthesiologists have reported significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure in some patients who have been taking herbal medicinal products including St John’s Wort, ginkgo and ginseng. MCA is currently investigating a serious adverse reaction associated with the use of ginkgo prior to surgery. In this case, the patient who was undergoing hip replacement experienced uncontrolled bleeding thought to be related to the use of ginkgo.
From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK
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