Herbal medicines - effective help not without risk

Many people are afraid of drug side effects. Especially preparations that are popularly referred to as "chemical" or "from the laboratory" are skeptically eyed and avoided if possible. A seemingly "gentle" alternative seems to be phytotherapy: preparations that are derived from plants. But a careless handling of herbal medicines can be harmful!

Active ingredients with side effects

Drug therapy is a science in itself. Because most drugs and preparations have more than one effect. With the unwanted effects one speaks of so-called side effects. Avoiding them and achieving the maximum desired effect makes good therapy. In addition, the human organism is a highly complicated apparatus in which countless biochemical processes intertwine. The deliberate influence of an element - for example, the intestinal flora or a hormone - can lead to a whole chain of results.

Self-medication with herbal supplements

Many patients like to take their own medication for herbal supplements, in the false belief that "gentle" phytotherapy can not do any harm. Also Alfred S. from Berlin tried with a preparation of St. John's wort to scare off his depressive mood. "After a nice day in the garden, my arms were suddenly covered with itchy blisters all over, " he says. The family doctor initially did not know what to do until they came to talk about St. John's wort capsules. This plant preparation lets the skin react extremely to UV radiation. Photosensitization, this effect is called in the jargon.


St. John's wort: The strong effect of St. John's wort was also demonstrated in a recent study. Not only against depression, but even to prevent cancer, the strong herb could be used, as researchers have found the University Hospital Charité in Berlin. St. John's wort, or some of its ingredients, protects against the environmental toxin benzpyrene, which is found in car exhaust fumes and is converted into a carcinogenic substance in the body.

Echinacea: Another popular phytotherapeutic is Echinacea, the extract of the yellow coneflower. He should boost the immune system in the case of impending colds. But this sword also has two cutting edges: Some people react allergically to the plant extract. The reactions range from simple rashes to threatening shock states.

Whether an allergy to the drug is present, an allergist can determine by a simple test. Those who take medicines themselves should also bear in mind that phytotherapeutics can interact with other drugs, ie: that the effect of one drug can be enhanced or weakened by another. Especially chronically ill patients should seek the advice of their attending physician to be sure that taking the supplemental herbal medicine does no more harm than good.

Herbal therapeutics in pregnancy

Even in pregnancy should be treated with herbal therapeutics not carefree. From Canada, a case was reported in which a woman gave birth to an oversized, overdeveloped child. Even before the birth had often suffered from premature labor. It was probably due to the baby's mother consuming high-dose ginseng during pregnancy.

Ginseng: Ginseng is a health-promoting product that has a positive effect on increased blood pressure, can relieve digestive problems and also improves the ability to concentrate. It is important for self-made herbal teas and other preparations to remember that, unlike pharmaceutical preparations, the active substance content of a plant can hardly be determined in advance. Depending on the harvest time, sunshine and cultivation area of ​​the plants, the ingredients can vary many times over.

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