Special considerations for herbal medicine
Herbal medicines can be mistakenly thought to be completely safe because they are natural products. This is not correct.
Herbal medicines may produce negative effects such as allergic reactions, rashes, asthma, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea that can range from mild to severe. Like other prescription medications, herbal medicine should always be prescribed by a qualified and registered practitioner.
Always tell your herbal therapist:
- which over-the-counter, herbal supplements, vitamins and prescription medications you are taking
- any allergic reactions you have experienced
- if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Be aware herbal medicine can interact with other medications
Herbal medications and supplements may interact in harmful ways with over-the-counter or prescription medicines you are taking.
Taking herbal supplements may decrease the effectiveness of other drugs you are taking or may increase the negative side effects.
If you are considering taking herbal medications it is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about possible side effects and interaction with other medications you are taking.
Purchase herbal medicine products from a reputable supplier
Not all herbal medicines that are sold are safe. Always purchase products from a reputable practitioner or pharmacist.
Be careful about purchasing herbal medicines over the internet. Unregulated herbal medicines from overseas may not be manufactured to the same quality and standard as regulated medicines. In some cases, products bought over the internet have been found to have dangerous levels of lead, mercury or arsenic, which can cause serious health problems.
Herbal medicines made in Australia are subject to regulations. Consult with your pharmacist about the safety and effectiveness of the herbal medicine or supplements you are thinking of buying. If you are considering taking herbal medicine, it is recommended that you:
- Never stop taking prescribed medications without consulting your doctor.
- Always tell your doctor if you are planning to start a course of herbal medicine for your condition.
- Seek advice from your qualified health practitioner, your doctor or your pharmacist about the herbal medicine’s safety, quality and effectiveness.
- Always purchase products from a reputable practitioner or pharmacist. Be cautious about buying herbal medicines or supplements manufactured overseas.
- Take all herbal medicines strictly as prescribed and consult your health practitioner immediately if you experience any adverse reactions.
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