A high percentage of the population could be endangering their health by taking herbal medicines without checking with a health professional first according to Peter Houghton, Professor in Pharmacognosy, King’s College London. Speaking today (6 September) at the BA Festival of Science, Prof Houghton warned of the risks of herbal remedies interacting with conventional medicines.
There is widespread belief that all herbs are safe because they are ‘natural’. However, some plant material may contain compounds which are toxic and the amount present can vary much more than with a synthetic product. And, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, there are no strict quality standards for herbal medications.
"Although your risk of dying from taking a herbal remedy is extremely small, some do interact with other medicines with serious consequences. For instance, St John’s Wort makes many prescription drugs used to treat conditions such as heart disease, depression, seizures, certain cancers or to prevent conditions such as transplant rejection or pregnancy (oral contraceptives) less effective," said Prof Houghton.
Katherine Martin | alfa
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