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Herbal Remedies and Surgery


Patients who take herbal medications while undergoing surgery may be at increased risk of excessive bleeding, heart instability, or lowered blood sugar levels, according to a new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers identified the most commonly used herbal medications by studying sales data from 1999. The most popular were echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St. John's wort, and valerian. 

The researchers then reviewed articles published between 1966 and 2000 about the safety, effect, and action of these herbs to determine if the medications had a negative impact before or after a patient underwent surgery.  

They found that garlic, ginkgo, and ginseng increased bleeding; ephedra caused heart instability; and ginseng lowered blood sugar. They also found that kava and valerian increased the sedative effect of anesthetics and St John's wort increased the metabolism of many drugs used during and after surgery.

It's always a good idea to discuss any medications, supplements, or herbs that you are taking with your doctor.  

Herbal remedies and most other supplements are not regulated like other medications. However, they may still cause significant problems including drug interaction with other medications, chemical imbalances within the body, or procedure complications as described above.


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