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The Importance of FDA Regulation on Herbal Medicine - page 6 / 10





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Drug interactions are another important factor to consider. Many herbs interfere

with prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, and some foods. One example of this is

St. John’s Wort, which should not be taken with foods containing tyramine, like beer,

wine, cheese, and dried meats. When taken together, they may cause dangerously high

blood pressure (“Herbal”). Ginseng should not be taken with ibuprofen because the two

can interact together and increase the risk of bleeding (“Herbal”). When black cohosh

interacts with high blood pressure medications, the combination can cause the blood

pressure to drop dangerously (“Herbal”). These are just a few examples of the serious

interactions herbal medications can have with foods, prescription drugs, and over-the-

counter drugs.

A final area of concern involves the dosages of herbs. Different plants have

different doses, and taken in incorrect dosages, they can have extremely dangerous

effects. Margarita Artschwager Kay, a professor emerita at the University of Arizona,

crafted a table of 100 genera of the most commonly used plants in the American

Southwest and the Mexican Northwest. Kay states:

Any medicinal may be unsafe if taken by a sensitive person, if the dose is

incorrect, or if other medicines that may potentiate or act synergistically

are also taken. These facts must be emphasized: just as any biomedical

pharmaceutical can under certain circumstances be dangerous, there can

be untoward reactions to any plant medicine. One cup of a tea might help:

more may make one sick. Parts of one-fourth of the 100 plant genera used

for medicines in the American and Mexican West are known to be toxic

when taken internally. (273)

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