Thursday, June 14, 2012

Drug Interactions

A lot of the "common wisdom" about herbs is wrong.

A lot of people are under the impression that "herbs," being natural, are by definition safe. The idea of an herb-drug interaction (or an herb-herb interaction for that matter) is met with derision and contempt. Many people take herbal medicines in massive doses and mix and match plant types as if the plants were some kind of jigsaw puzzle.

They think you can safely combine a pharmaceutical blood thinner with an herbal blood thinner and not have them effect each other? Oh, come on! It's a double dose. Or take an anti-depressant with alcohol and not have them interact? Alcohol is a depressant.

Really, anyone taking any kind of herbal medicine, whether a simple vitamin supplement or a full regimen prescribed by a licensed herbalist should be paying attention to the interractions just as you would if the medication was from a pharmacy.

Chemicals create changes in the way our bodies react. That is the basis of pharmaceutical medicine. In a laboratory or a factory they create a particular chemical chain that has a certain effect on the brain or the body. They package it up, stick a fancy name on it and call it medicine.

That same chemical chain, or one very much like it, is created by the growth of a plant. It has the same effect on the body--the only thing it's missing is the fancy name and the bottle. Logic would dictate that the same precautions should be taken, the same drug interactions should apply.

Just because it hasn't been proven by "science" doesn't mean that the interactions don't exist. In the absense of scientific proof, it's our responsibility to use common sense--which really isn't that common, when you think about it.

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