Using Herbs Safely - Part 2

Updated: May 16, 2019

Last week, some of the general safety rules for using herbs were listed. This week some more recommendations for using herbs safely are listed below.

1. Don’t overuse your herbs. Exceeding the recommended dosage of herbs can be dangerous. Dosage suggestions are based on years of clinical research and experience. If a little is good, a lot may not be better.

2. If you are over 60, start with a lower dosage. People who are older are often more sensitive to herbal supplements, either because of their metabolism or because of the increased use of prescribed medication. A lower dose is better and can be gradually increased with time.

3. Use extreme caution with herbs for kids under two. Herbs are not appropriate for babies unless administered by a doctor. Even diluted herbs that are generally considered safe, like cinnamon and ginger, should be used very carefully.

4. Watch for reactions. Sometimes, people can have allergic reactions to herbal remedies. If you have an immediate itching rash, headache or diarrhea after taking an herb, discontinue use immediately. People who have hay fever, asthma or eczema may be more likely to also be allergic to some flower based herbal supplements.

5. Check for drug interactions. If you already take pharmaceuticals please discuss any herbs that you would also like to take with your doctor first. Many herbs can interact with medicines. It’s especially important to avoid duplicating a drug’s intended affect with an herbal remedy. For instance, combining a blood-thinning herb with a blood-thinning medication can be very dangerous. An herbalist can help determine if an herb is also a stimulant, laxative, blood-thinner or sedative.

6. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid herbal remedies unless approved by their doctor. Some herbs that are considered safe for adults can cause problems for unborn children and newborns.

Natural herbal supplements can be a wonderful part of our lives, as long as we use them wisely. Of course, you don’t have to have a degree in herbalism to take your vitamins, but you should use common sense and consult a health care provider with any questions.