Lemon Stevia Detox Programme for Fast Weight Loss and Regeneration
LSD – Lemon Stevia Detox for Weight Loss and Immune Stimulation
"Hi Alan, In only a week I have shed about 12 pounds bodyweight and 11 inches around my whole body. Abdomen 3 inches. I am amazed by how many toxins I must have coming out. Head still sore. Avoiding headache drugs. Better than it was. I am working but less hours. All the best Steve."
Steven R from Sussex
There are many names given to this detox method of weight loss and energizer: Lemon Detox, Lemon Detox Diet, Lemon Detox Fast, Lemon Diet, Lemon Fast, Lemonade Diet, now we even see it called the Beyonce Diet because the famous singer had to lose weight quickly for a movie she was shooting - I call it the LSD – Lemon Stevia Detox Diet
What is the LSD for Weight Loss?
The old classic Lemon Diet was regarded as one of the easiest ways to lose weight; it was a detox fast, just like doing a fresh juice fast or water fast. It comprised a liquid diet regime based on a totally natural drink made from a blend of organic tree syrups, mixed with fresh lemon juice, spring water and a pinch of cayenne pepper. However it meant you consumed a lot of sugar.
The new diet/fast is the LSD – Lemon Stevia Detox for Weight Loss. Stevia is sugar-free and highly antioxidant. This requires organic lemons, organic Stevia-ACE, cayenne pepper, the ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder Plus, WeightLess Tonic, plus one or more specific herbal tonics for your needs. This will give you total nutritional support without the hassle and expense of the Madal Bal tree syrups originally used. In fact using the ABC Daily powder instead will give you far more nutritional support than any syrup.
LSD – Lemon Stevia Detox for Weight Loss
The Stevia-ACE with the ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder Plus is designed to provide an enormous range of minerals and trace elements necessary for health. The fresh lemon juice provides vitamin C and potassium, and helps to dissolve mucus and waste, plus it is thirst quenching. The addition of cayenne pepper gives a zing as well as a stimulatory heating effect, which speeds the metabolism for cleansing and elimination. The WeightLess Tonic is a multiherbal mixture to improve fat and toxin release, appetite suppressant and metabolic stimulant. The other additions are for your own choosing according to your needs, e.g. LiverDetox for improved liver elimination, LymphCleanse for the lymphatic system, PancreasMore for diabetic blood-sugar balancing, Heart and Circulation Tonic for cholesterol and blood pressure support, NerveShield for people with stress, MS, ME, etc, FlushLess for women with hormonal issues, etc (see www.herbactive.co.uk for other tonics to choose)
History of the Lemon Fast
Fasting has long been an important part of the naturopathic/herbalist approach to helping the body heal itself. Fasting rests the digestive tract, permits detoxification, and stimulates the immune system to speed recovery. Herbalists often recommend fasting (usually fresh juice fasts) both for treating acute infections and especially for chronic conditions where congestion is a problem, to stimulate elimination, e.g. asthma, sinusitis, gall stones, blood pressure, skin conditions and colitis. There are many types of fast, such as just water, or a mono-diet of grapes, juice fasting, or the cabbage diet. This diet is based on the Stanley Borroughs ‘Lemonade Diet’.
Stanley Borroughs was a naturopath who developed the Lemonade Diet in the 1950s. His booklet called The Master Cleanser described the drink, which originally used Madal Bal tree syrup with lemon juice. He describes the fast and its varied uses.
The LSD – Lemon Stevia Detox for Weight Loss
We recommend a ten-day regime starting on a Wednesday and ending on Saturday of the following week. A 5-day LSD programme can be done for those wanting a short quick cleanse – this should be started on a Monday ending on Saturday. A 5-day fast is the minimum that should be done because it take your body 2-3 days for the metabolism to change over to feeding off your own storage fats in your body. Each day you will need to make a 2 litre bottle of LSD, that is you’ll need to buy enough spring water for the duration of your fast: 10L for 5 days or 20L for 10 days. Of course you can choose to doe a 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 day fast instead, it’s up to you and according to your work demands.
The five to ten-day fast should not be carried out too frequently. Even for weight loss, the maximum frequency is repeated after four weeks or more between each one.
Most adults benefit from a fast once or twice a year. However, because of the high xenobiotic load most of us carry due to chemical pollution in food and in the environment, most toxins are released into the bloodstream during a fast and thrown our via the bowel, bladder and skin.
As a follow-up to the 10-day fast you can do a LSD fast once a week e.g. on Mondays, or once a month. As with any fast it is extremely important to start with motivation! It's of little use to say 'Oh I'll give it a go and see how I feel!' Instead you should be motivated with the thought, 'This sounds really fantastic, I'm really looking forward to the next ten days and to a complete clearing of my body. I know I'm going to feel great!' And then make proper preparation by obtaining all the necessary items for the whole fast programme.
After the LSD – Lemon Stevia Detox for Weight Loss
After you have finished the 5 or 10 days programme, it is important to break the fast slowly; to suddenly start eating full meals with proteins and fats could cause upsets or even kidney damage. So it is best to introduce fruit and fruit and vegetable juices (using your juicer is best), and green smoothies using your blender, fruits, followed by light salads, fish and grains etc for a day or two. For a recommended green smoothie click here
Doing the LSD – Lemon Stevia Detox for Weight Loss
During the fast, only the recommended liquids are taken, together with any prescribed medication as advised by the patient’s doctor, or natural medication prescribed by a complementary practitioner. No solid foods are taken, or vitamin tablets, or non-prescription drugs or other supplements as tablets or capsules. There is no need to take any days off from work, and you should be able to continue your normal activities because the LSD drink contains a complete balance of nutrients and provides enough sustainable calories per day. Your endurance may be somewhat reduced in the first 1-2 days due to the shift of metabolism from external food supplies to your own body fats. You may experience headaches or dizziness as eliminating toxins stored in fats and organs enter the bloodstream. To help avoid or reduce this inevitable side-effect at these early stages, drink more and often of the LSD drink, spring water and herbal teas during the day.
Light exercise and breathing exercises are a great complement as they increase blood flow and elimination of toxins through the skin and mucous membranes (NB do not perform breathing exercises standing up, always sit or lie down). Similarly, saunas and steam baths are helpful (again, stand up slowly after these activities because of the elimination increase in your body and blood). Colon cleansing is also important: gentle laxative (detox) herb teas (see below) or salt water are part of the daily regime for fasts of 5 days or longer to prevent constipation. A pint of water with two teaspoons of sea salt will flush the colon effectively within an hour. The salt ensures that any toxic fluid is not reabsorbed from the gut into your system, or use our herbal laxatives.
How to do the LSD Lemon Stevia Detox Fast
What you need before you start the LSD - Lemon Stevia Detox Fast
7 Things for the 7 Days
You don't need to take time off work. But before you jump in get prepared and it will be hassle-free and you could lose up to 14lbs in just 5-10 days.
1. You need to stock up with lots of organic lemons (usually smaller than non-organic lemons). About 10-12 organic lemons will be needed for a 5-day fast; 14-18 lemons for a 7-day fast. (If you can't find organic use ordinary lemons), 2 dozen for a 10 day LSD.
2. At least 15-20 litres of good quality Spring Water (7-10 day fast). Save a 2L plastic bottle for your daily lemon mixture.
3. 1.110L of our dark Stevia-ACE (or 300ml of our Clear Stevia-ACE) [ACE means Alcohol-free Concentrated Extract].
4. 50g ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder Plus, £9.95 (buy more if you can for follow-up use) - I supply; and 20g Cayenne Pepper. I can supply.
5. 120ml WeightLess Tonic. (3 tsp [15ml] are added to the lemon and Stevia mixture). I supply. [You might like to do this fast by including one or more of our other tonics, viz.: Total Detox Tonic, or WormLess Tonic, or StoneLess Kidneys Tonic, or LiverDetox Tonic, or LymphClense Tonic, or HerbShield Tonic, or SkinClear Tonic, or PancreasMore - price for each is the same, 120ml]
6. 100g Liver Detox Herbal Tea £16.95. I supply. If your bowels are somewhat lazy or you think you may get constipated, ask for my MoveMore1 (gentle) 120ml, MoveMore2 (strong) 120ml, or MoveMoreXS (extra strong) 120ml, or ColonCleanse Powder 100g. Prices of larger sizes see price list or email me for a price list of the LSD - LemonSteviaDetoxDiet. Check these prices in the prices page to confirm today's prices!
7. Herb Teas - I recommend my Paradise Garden Herbal Tea 50g, as it boosts the immune system and digestion while also being aromatic and enjoyable - see price list for larger sizes; or you can get individual herb teas to vary your drinks, e.g. peppermint, lemon balm, chamomile, red bush, dandelion root coffee, sage tea. You can buy these from Herbactive Herbalist.
Daily Regime during the LSD - Lemon Stevia Detox Fast
For a 5 day LSD fast start on a Monday to end on the following Friday.
For a 7 day LSD fast start on Saturday to end on the following Friday.
For a 10 day LSD fast start on Wednesday to end on the following Friday.
Or you can start any of the fasts on Saturday morning, because the first two days can for some people be the most challenging and you can go through them at home. Then you can sail through the remaining 5-10 days and look forward to a relaxed weekend to follow. So on Friday night, or the night before starting, a laxative tea or a dose of MoveMore Tonic should be taken to loosen up the colon.
Then on Saturday (or the next) morning:
1. Make up 2 litres of your lemon mixture. Into your 2 litre bottle, add 100-150ml Stevia-ACE or 10ml Clear Stevia-ACE, 125ml fresh lemon juice (juice of about 2-4 lemons). Add a dash of cayenne if you want, and 1tsp (5g) ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder Plus. Add 3tsp (15ml) WeightLess Tonic [also add any of your selected Herbactive tonics, see above or go to SiteMap]. Top this up with your spring water. This is the day's supply. Shake the bottle and drink in small mouthfuls or glassfuls through the day, whenever you feel a little hungry. You need to drink appox 150-200ml every hour.
2. Make the LiverDetox Tea for the day. Take 10-15g of the mixture add about a pint of spring water and bring it slowly to the boil for 5 minutes. Or you can make the tea in a tea pot. Allow to steep. Drink a cup hot or warm as and when through the day between the glasses of lemon mixture. Or strain it into a flask and take it to work with you. Take a cup hot last thing at night.
3. Make the other herb teas if desired, to vary the daily theme, as mentioned above.
4. Last thing before bedtime, take a cup of LiverDetox Tea, (and, if required, 1-2tsp of MoveMore Tonic or ColonCleanse Powder to assist your overworked or lazy bowels).
After the LSD
An example: on the following Saturday morning, or the first morning after the end of your fast (after weighing yourself and punching the air!), take half a spoonful of ABC Daily Powder (take this dose every day, in water). then have a small glass of green smoothie (see green smoothies), or fruit juices/fruit/yoghurt/herb tea in the morning. The best thing to do after this LSD programme is to get into the habit of drinking Green Smoothies before or instead of breakfast. For lunch, eat a light, green, leafy salad with olive oil and garlic dressing. Evening, have another mixed salad, with fruit juices and natural yoghurt. Drink plenty of water and herb teas.
On the second day after the fast, take your green smoothie (it only takes 5 minutes to prepare!), fruit juices, fresh fruit; lunch a mixed salad, and in the evening vegetable soup. Drink plenty of water and herb teas.
On Monday, or the third day after the LSD, start the day with your green smoothie and then eat normal healthy food, but try to keep the portions down (eat from a small plate)! You really don't need American portions of any course! Start each meal with a good mixed fruit salad or mixed green salad (yes, I said start, begin, eat first), then you can easily cut right back on bread, potatoes, pasta, pastries, and puddings. Enjoy your weight loss and extra energy and confidence by allowing your new self not to rise in wieght any more than 2-3lbs following the fast. If you feel full after any meal you've eaten too much; eat small portions of each course and you'll feel very satisfied, and proud of yourself. If you are way over weight do this LSD LemonSteviaDetoxFast again after every month or six weeks. Head for your normal weight. Each time you do it you will feel hugely better for it.
Let us know how you got on.
Colon cleansing is optional and may not be necessary for shorter fasts. If required, first thing in the morning, cleanse the colon with salt water as descibed or a laxative (MoveMore Laxative Tonic) and a good drink of the LiverDetox herbal tea.
Last thing at night take another good mug of LiverDetox Tea and (if required) 1-2tsp of the MoveMore Herbal Tonic as descibed above.
Fasting is NOT recommended for patients with chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer, tuberculosis and neurological disorders, nor for hyperthyroid patients. Although useful for regulating underweight as well as overweight, it would not be advisable in true anorexia.
For underweight persons and those who cannot gain weight - WormLess is their preferred treatment programme - for info click here.
The Lemon Fast does provide balanced nutritional support to the body, but there is no formal evidence about adverse effects. Research into the benefits and risks is badly needed. The only known side-effects are the dizziness and nausea sometimes typical of any fasting regime, as mentioned above, but these are not common if the regime is followed properly. Its widespread use and continuing popularity are some indication of its safety.
The LSD LemonSteviaDetox Diet can be conducted unsupervised by a healthy person for short periods, 5, 7 or 10 days, and you can email or telephone Herbactive Clinic for advice and support.
Special caution is needed if the person is taking medical drugs of any kind. Patients with low blood pressure (hypotension) may need to take a cup of coffee daily when fasting. Buy our coffee-free alternative, see High10NGen Coffee
Underweight patients can use proportionately more Stevia (but not lemon juice) per litre of drink, in order to minimize weight loss. Any loss is rapidly regained after the fast is completed because of improvements in appetite, digestion, absorption and organ function. But those who are chronically uderweight are recommended to do my AntiParasite Program first, for info click here.
The regime is also safe and recommended for diabetics. Overweight diabetics can use a Stevia infusion as in the programme described; 30-50ml in the 2L mixture; monitor your blood sugar readings carefully throughout each day of the Fast, and do not stop any medication; contact Alan for advice, alanhopking@Herbactive.co.uk.
Alcoholics and smokers should aim to reduce their intake before the fast (to prepare for the Fast we recommend you take SmokeLess Tonic and smoke the ABC Smoking Mixture for 2 weeks before doing the Fast, for info click here); there are claims that cravings are reduced or even eliminated by the fourth day, and do not return.
Evidence for Effectiveness
Fasting in various forms has been used for centuries in many cultures for its cleansing and health-promoting effects. Adults and children who are Hindu or Moslem regularly practise fasting (e.g. in Ramadan) in the East and the West. Fasting has not been extensively researched until recently (see the Fast Diet with Dr Mike Moseley) where science confirms major improvements to the whole person viz. lowering high blood pressure, avoiding the onset of diabetes, mood and energy improvement, brain (memory and rationality) improvement, significant boost to self-confidence, and healing to all systems in the body, but there is perhaps more formal evidence than you might imagine, especially in studies of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimers, heart disease and diabetes.
Users frequently comment on the ease of the diet, the high energy levels during the fast, and benefits to mind and spirit. Patient satisfaction is high (82%), according to some claims. The Lemon Diet booklet describes a study of 250 people who wished to lose weight. Of these, 108 (43%) fasted for ten days, and lost an average of 11 lbs, some lost over 14 lbs; 89 (36%) stopped before the ten days, but even those completing 1-5 days lost an average of 6 lbs.
Alan, I have just completed one week on the LSD Lemon Stevia Detox herbal diet. I wanted a fairly radical detox as eating sensibly at 52 years old was not making me lose any weight. I weighed in at 228Lbs, my heaviest ever, after one week I am down to 211 lbs a loss of 17lbs but more importantly I lost 5 inches round my middle going from 44.5 inches to 39.5 inches.
I want to lose a bit more so for the next few weeks I will move on to a juice and vegan diet approach.
I got a splitting migraine before the start right up to day 4 of the programme. I spent half the weekend in bed but I gave myself that time willingly letting the toxins flow! I have had migraines before, I know what they are like and how long they last. I decided to avoid drug painkillers as I felt this would slow down the detox. I drank all the juices and lots of paradise tea and was able to work on Monday. I saw about half the normal numbers of clients I usually see which was best as my energy level was not 100% but OK. Interestingly I experienced a lot of back pain one night, right shoulder pain another night and right knee pain another night. These are old injury areas for me. My wife assured me I stank all week despite salt baths and my breath smelt like I had not eaten she said, so lots of herbal toothpaste needed.
By day 6 I felt well, normal, energy OK. Mentally very clear, I liked that feeling and I sorted out lots of stuff.
Also Day 7 felt fine.
I never felt very hungry, if I did get a small pang I just drank more lemon drink or tea. The quantity is generous and I found I liked to dilute it further with warm water making a tasty hot drink sometimes.
Day 8 breaking the fast – got out my old champion juicer for a celery and apple juice in the morning. Then out to lunch (pre booked) where I watched everyone have traditional Sunday lunch while I had a small green salad – but I wasn’t hungry. It took about a week after the fast to get back to normal hunger, my weight loss has been maintained reasonably, 3 lbs have returned but I guess that is food in transit.
Overall a great experience.
My experience with the LSD Lemon Stevia Detox Fast:
I decided to go for a 7-day fast, using Strathglen Mineral Water from the highlands of Scotland (£1.06 for 5L); Organic Stevia-ACE Dark; ABCDaily Herbal NutriPowder Plus (1 heaped tsp in the 2L mixture); also using the WeightLess Tonic (15-20ml in each 2L mixture).
1st Day - I weighed in at 11St 13lbs (167 lbs; 75.9Kg). Making the preparation was easy. Only two of my large organic lemons were necessary to make the required 125ml.
The first day was relatively difficult just because I am used to eating three meals a day. But I was never really hungry on the fast. I don't normally drink this much fluid a day, so it was somewhat difficult to get into the routine of drinking so often. I had no headache, dizziness or any digestive upsets; in fact I was able to work without any slowing down; my mind was marginally clearer. I didn't quite get through the 2L of mixture. I drank nothing else. I wasn't particularly looking forward to the 2nd day or the drinking the same thing and its taste. I was a lot more tired than usual and got to bed 9.30pm and slept soundly till 7.30am which is much longer than is normal for me.
2nd Day - Surprisingly, I don't mind the taste of the mixture when I start it in the morning. My bowels were very loose, thin diarrhoea. I found the 2nd day easier than the first day in that I knew what to expect. I paced myself with the mixture, plus I drank some extra water and Paradise Garden tea. No adverse symptoms. I weighed myself: I was 2 lbs lighter. I go to bed 12.30am as I had plenty of energy to work late.
3rd Day - a doddle! I found the 3rd day easier than the 2nd day. I drank a little extra water, otherwise nothing but the mixture. Energy is much better. I go to bed a little hungry at 11.30pm.
4th Day - A good sleep. Wake at 7am. I'm not hungry at all! Bowel action normal but reduced. I now weigh 11St 9lbs (163 lbs; 74.09Kg). Work a full day at my consultancy. At 6pm go into my garden plot and work for nearly 3 hours, digging, hoeing, scithing, weeding, cutting. Go to bed 11pm.
5th Day - Sleep for just 4 hours, wake to a full moon shining in my face! In and out of sleep. Up at 7. Bowel action normal, reduced. Weight 11.7 Stone. Work a full day. Have a business meeting at 7.30pm. Take the mixture in about 200ml glassfuls a time. Not hungy at all! But at meal times I want to satisfy the urge to eat; but this soon passes as I take another swig of the ABC! It's also pretty tough when you're invited to the pub for a drink with your friends and you've got to stick to the ABC or water! I've got 2 days of this to go and already my wedding ring has dropped off twice - I'm shrivelling up!!
6th Day. Go to work as usual. Garden work afterwards for 3 hours in the evening with a lot of energy. Got to bed 11.30pm.
7th Day. Wake 6.30am. Hungry, but read instead until 8.30. Bowel loose, reduced. Weight 11.6 Stone (so after 6 days I've lost half a stone [7lbs]). My back is stiff from yesterday's hard garden work. Once up and about I'm not hungry (or not too keen to drink the mix!). But stick to it. My ring is very loose now. Drink the mixture no problem. Go gardening again for 3 hours - a lot of compost making, pruning, sawing and digging - vigourous exercise with a lot of sweating and panting! So I still have ample energy perhaps even more than usual. Although I took the toll from midges, mozzies, and horse flies! Got to bed 11pm.
8th Day. Wake 6.30. Today I end my Detox Fast. I weigh 11.4St (9lbs lost in 7 days!). I break the fast with a pint of Kukicha Japanese Green Tea, and a bowl of wild blackberries given me by a client (thanks Trevor!) and organic yogurt with a little Stevia Clear (I didn't get to the point of resenting the taste!).
Conclusions: Comments and Observations about my 7-Day Fast:
I found it easy to do. I never got particularly hungry (early morning was most noticeable). Hunger and the desire for eating was suppressed from the 2nd day on. I liked the grainy support the ABCDailyHerbalNutriPowderPlus gave me each time I drank a glass of the Mixture. I wasn't over-weight at the start (my wife said I didn't need to lose any weight), but I was developing a bit of a belly. The belly was completely lost by the 7th day, so very satisfactory. I had no problems with bowel movement throughout. But I felt I could have improved on this by taking either a laxative tonic MoveMore 1 or 2 or ColonCleanse Powder each night. The tongue gets furred up a bit at times so this needs cleaning as well. But all in all a very useful method of effective detoxing the body, giving the system a complete rest from digestion, and many other benefits (skin, energy, etc).
Reflection: Fasting sounds extremist but really it is a very old traditional health method (think of its side kick into religous 'fasting' like Lent and Ramadan [the latter is far from healthy!]). Fasting also gives the mind new perspectives on things. You can give up smoking, it can spark up your sexuality and relationship, overcome alcoholism and drugs, get new interests, become more philosophical, poetic, creative, and so on. Fasting clears away the cobwebs in your body and mind. You have so much more time during the week (sometimes the days seem very long!). This is because so much centres on food - writing a shopping list, going to the supermarket, preparing the food, eating the food, washing up the dishes, cleaning the kitchen. The package holiday has tried to fill the gap, but the real holiday to your body and mind is this sort of Detox Fast. Enjoy it you will!
Update 6 September: I've only put on 3-4lbs since ending the fast. Most days I still make 1-2L of the Stevia Mixture after breakfast at work.
After just 3-days fast I lost 4 pounds... I liked it and plan to do it more regularly. Kate.
...when I got to 5 days I was ready to go on until i was down to a size 8! Your support was so reassuraing, thank you. I stopped at your advice at 10 days. I lost over a stone! I feel a million dollars! Your mixtures and that ABC Daily powder are fantastic. Mrs Nasar
...since being on your Lemon Detox diet I have continued on it during the day and only eat the evening meal... I'm still losing weight and have new energy...thankyou Alan. Janie
I like this diet programme, it is simple and effective... and quick, and with your added daily powder I felt I was getting most of the nutrients I needed to sustain a long fast. I lost a lot of excess fat, my arms especially are much better and I can wear short sleeved tops with confidence. Also my skin is smoother. My friends have all been amazed and are going to contact you. Thank you. Lois Wood-McAdam
Our herbal tonic medicines are carefully prepared on a personal and individual basis for your healing by medical herbalist Alan Hopking MA MNIMH FINEH.
Only whole herbs are used in our herbal medicines. Nothing else is added. If you have symptoms which you consider might be helped with herbal medicine please contact herbal practitioner Alan Hopking for a friendly confidential professional consultation. See terms and fees.
Once you have received your herbal prescription you can contact Alan Hopking at any time for more free advice (preferably by email). When you have completed your bottle of herbal medicine and if you want a repeat prescription you are requested to phone or email so that your progress can be assessed and adjustments made if necessary so that there is no break in your treatment. To order or re-order, click here.
HERBACTIVE Centre of Herbal Medicine, England, UK. Freephone 0800 0834436
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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