Herbal Supplements and Anesthetics: A Potentially Harmful Combination

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anesthesia injectableSome of the most popular types of dietary supplements are herbals. The use of herbs for medicinal purposes can be traced back to ancient times. St. John’s Wort, for example, was used by people since the 5th century BC to treat patients with mood disorders.

It was during the 1960s when herbal medicines started to become popular, building the foundation for what is now a multi-billion dollar industry. More than 100 types of modern medicine are derived from plants.

Herbal Supplements: A Miracle or a Risk?

There are more than 1500 herbal supplements available on the U.S. market. Even though most of them seem safe, their combination with standard medicines or other supplements may cause serious side effects. The Food and Drug Administration banned ephedra in 2004 after it was linked to multiple deaths. Some of the most common negative side effects associated with supplement intake include:

  • Cardiac events
  • Nephrotoxity, and
  • Liver toxicity
Herbal Supplements and Sedatives

Reports reveal that there are patients who do not inform their doctors about taking supplements for fear that their physicians might disapprove of non-conventional therapy.The clinical staff from the North American Partners in Anesthesia wants patients to be honest about their supplement intake. They warn that the supplements might interfere with the anesthesia during the operation and cause complications.

A 2002 National Health Interview Survey identified the following supplements that affect surgical procedures:

  • St. John’s Wort
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Ephedra
  • Feverfew
  • Ginseng

Always remember that supplements, despite some of their known benefits, are not classified as medicines. That explains why doctors rarely prescribe them. You should be careful when taking supplements and make sure to do some research first. Most importantly, be honest with your doctors about it so they can provide you with the best possible care.

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