Many people assume that natural remedies are totally safe. You can take as much as you want, whenever you want.
But that’s not true. In fact, overdoing it on dietary supplements can be dangerous.
Medicinal herbs can cause side effects. Just like drugs.
Homeopathic remedies are the same. Take a little and you may feel better. But a few extra doses can make you worse.
Also, everyone is different. Some people tolerate extra doses. But other individuals have sensitive constitutions. They do better with less than the recommended dose.
That’s why you need to be careful. Don’t ignore new or unusual symptoms. Just like drugs, herbal remedies can have a paradoxical effect. This means they do the opposite of what they’re supposed to do.
For instance, many people take St. John’s wort to relieve stress. But I noticed this herb made me jittery instead. So I stopped taking it. And that jittery feeling went away.
Side Effects Of Herbs and Supplements
Think of herbal remedies as medicines. For thousands of years, plants were used prescribed for all kinds of afflictions. They affect the body. In both positive and negative ways. They can also interact with drugs.
So it’s really important to work with your doctor if you’re taking prescriptions. Actually, I think it’s a good idea for anyone to check with a medical professional before taking any type of dietary supplement. You’ll probably obtain best results from herbs working with an herbalist. Pregnant women should avoid herbs.
It’s important for me to point out that I’m not a medical practitioner. I write from personal experience only. But I feel uniquely qualified to talk about herbal side effects. Because I tend to experience them. I’m one of those people who can’t tolerate a few extra doses.
If there’s a side effect to be had, I feel it. That’s why I can’t take a particular supplement too many days in a row.
I’m always on the lookout for new symptoms. Because they can be caused by dietary supplements. This is part of the reason why I only take remedies for a short period of time.
I also rotate them, so I never have to use the same remedy for too long.
Side Effects Of Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicines have been used for ages. So their side effects are well known.
The mainstream medical profession is geared toward prescribing drugs, instead of herbs. But it’s quick to point out the potential dangers of dietary supplements. We can use this information to our advantage.
For instance, many people take a vitamin-like supplement called CoQ10. This compound naturally occurs in our body. But it diminishes with age.
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant. There’s evidence it can fight cancer. One study of women with breast cancer showed that high doses of CoQ10 led to remissions.
Not surprisingly, many people load up on CoQ10. However, too much can spell trouble.
It can trigger drops in blood pressure and dizziness. CoQ10 can also cause digestive distress. Or allergic reactions.
For the most part, CoQ10 seems safe. Especially compared to some of the drugs. But side effects are a possibility. They may mean you need to discontinue the supplement. Your doctor may tell you to take a lower dose. That’s why it’s good to know that natural remedies can cause negative reactions.
Drug Interactions With Herbal Supplements
It’s not only prescription drug interaction you need to worry about. Herbs can interact with over-the-counter drugs?That’s why it’s wise to check with your doctor before taking supplements.
Antidepressant drugs are widely prescribed. An estimated 11-12 percent of all Americans take these medications at any given time.
Meanwhile, St. John’s wort is a popular home remedy for depression. There’s evidence it can elevate the mood.
However, it’s dangerous to combine this herb with prescription SSRI’s, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These drugs increase levels of serotonin. However, St. John’s does the same.
Taking the two together can cause a potentially life threatening reaction known as serotonin syndrome. This is an overload of serotonin.
But too much St. John’s wort can also cause serotonin syndrome, all on its own.
I don’t take SSRI drugs. However, I still experienced side effects from St. John’s wort. I’ve taken it for chronic nerve pain. After about a week I was anxious and unable to sleep. Clearly, I needed to stop taking it.
Herbal Overdose Symptoms
It’s impossible to list every single herbal side effect here. That’s because there are so many herbs, with so many potential reactions.
So I’ll just list a few of the most common. These may include restlessness, agitation, dry mouth, digestive upsets or rashes.
If you’re taking an herb, pay attention if you notice anything unusual.
I’m not a professional herbalist. But I do know that herbs shouldn’t be taken indefinitely. Once they’ve done their job they’re no longer needed. If you see symptoms, or notice no improvement, they’re probably not needed. For me, once I lose my “taste” for a remedy, I stop taking it.
Side Effects Of Herbal Medicine
Ideally, it’s best to work with a master herbalist. However, I realize these practitioners are hard to find. I haven’t found one in my area. So I use herbs judiciously, and only for short intervals.
I pay attention to anything unpleasant. Herbal remedies help me fall into a deep restful sleep when I first start using them. After that, they can keep me awake. Not being able to sleep is often a sign to quit.
Insomnia is one sign you’re taking ginseng (a popular herbal remedy) for too long, says the mainstream health site WebMD. This site noted this could occur after taking this herb for extended periods of time. (More than six months.)
One of the problems with OTC dietary supplements is that they don’t come with a stop date. This runs counter to the advice you’d receive from a professional herbalist.
Dangers of Herbal Supplements
Herbal remedies can have side effects. But, it appears, not as many as drugs. That’s likely because they’re made from the whole plant.
However, lately, there’s a trend of isolating various components. These laboratory-made products are marketed as natural remedies.
In reality, isolates more like drugs. That’s why I use only whole herbs, instead of isolates. Whole herbs have been used for thousands of years. Laboratory extracts are new.
It’s possible whole herbs contain compounds that mitigate side effects from the active compounds. These would be removed with an isolate. Also, isolates may be more concentrated than the compounds you’d find in whole herbs.
This is also why I take whole food vitamins, as opposed to those created in a lab. We’re supposed to be getting our nutrients from food. Food-based vitamins supply nutrients as nature intended.
Side Effects Of Overdose of Homeopathic Medicine
Homeopathy is considered safe and effective. When it’s used the right way. Professional homeopaths (or at least the good ones) follow a principle known as the “minimum dose.” This means take only what you need. Don’t take extra doses. Don’t take that one last dose when you’re feeling well, just to make it “stick.”
My own homeopath passed away about a year ago. But she left with some very good advice. If you’re riding a bicycle in a straight line, all is well. Don’t take another dose unless your bike starts to wobble.
Too much of a good thing can set you back. Especially when it comes to homeopathy.
Homeopathy works on a theory of “like cures like.” This means you take doses of highly diluted toxins. Full strength, these substances would make you sick. But when diluted to the point they can’t be measured, they gently nudge your body to heal itself.
However, if you take too many doses the action isn’t gentle. Instead, it can make your symptoms worse. Or you could develop brand new ones. (In any event, this would usually be a sign to stop a particular remedy.)
Homeopathy Side Effects
Sometimes even the correct dosage may cause a temporary intensification of symptoms. This is known as an “aggravation.” An aggravation is a sign of deep healing. So even though they’re uncomfortable, aggravations are reassuring.
It can be hard to tell the difference between an aggravation and a “proving.” A proving is when you overdo it with a remedy and take too many doses. Then you begin to feel the effects.
Provings generally happen after several doses in a row. Personally, I need to be careful. Because, for me, provings can happen after just two or three doses. This is why I never take a remedy unless I know it’s needed. And I never take it longer than needed.
I don’t intend to scare you away from homeopathy. This healing method has greatly helped our family. You just need to use homeopathy the right way.
Dangers of Homeopathic Medicine
Used judiciously, homeopathic medicine is safe. Even if you happen to take the wrong remedy, nothing bad will happen. (Repeated doses though can cause provings. Aggravations are often a good sign you’ve take the right remedy.)
It’s widely agreed the biggest danger of homeopathy is using it when conventional medicine is needed.
However, there’s another danger that’s under played: The dosing instructions on homeopathic remedy containers. These instructions may tell you to take 1 to 3 pellets a day indefinitely. However, this is bad advice.
Homeopathic remedies are powerful. They aren’t just sugar-based placebos. Until the early 1900’s, homeopathy was a dominant form of medicine in the United States. At least one-third of all hospitals were homeopathic.
Back then, in the US, homeopathy was a legitimate form of medicine. In other parts of the world, though, it never fell out of favor. Homeopathy is widely used in India. Indian homeopaths are considered among the best in the world.
Homeopathy is enjoying a comeback in the United States. Remedies are available over the counter in health food stores and online. So it’s easy to overlook the fact that these remedies are powerful.
Essential Oil Overdose Symptoms
Essential oils are very easy to tolerate. At least for me. But I use them judiciously. I do not ingest them and I do not recommend this practice to my readers, as a general rule. There may be times when ingestion is okay. But it needs to be done under the care of a qualified medical professional, according to the Alliance of International Aromatherapists.
Otherwise, essential oils are for external use. This includes massage or putting them in a cold air diffuser. For massage, you would to put 2 or 3 drops of essential oil into a carrier oil. (Use even less on children and elderly people.)
A good practice is to avoid using the same kind of essential oil too often, without a break. Otherwise, you could develop a sensitivity. This would probably prevent you from using that oil again.
Essential Oil Side Effects
Fortunately, with correct use, side effects from essential oils are rare. However, the emphasis is on correct usage. This means diluting them for massage, and not overdoing it with a diffuser. If an odor is overpowering or it starts to feel unpleasant, turn off the diffuser and get some fresh air.
Certain types of essential oils (most notably in the citrus family) are associated with photo-sensitivity. This means you shouldn’t use them before going out in the sun. Nor should you add them to DIY sunscreen recipes.
But, sometimes, frightening side effects are reported. They invariably involve misuse. This includes ingesting certain types of toxic essential oils. For instance, tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil are poisonous if swallowed. (If that happened you’d need to immediately contact a poison control center.)
Certain essential oils shouldn’t be used on children under the age of 10. Essential oils shouldn’t be used in children under the age of 2.
I encourage my readers to play it safe. One thing to remember is that everyone is different. Large doses of something may not adversely affect one person. But they may harm the next. That’s why it’s important to follow the safety guidelines written with a wide range of people and conditions in mind.
These statements have not been approved by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essential oils or herbal or homeopathic remedies unless directed to do so by a healthcare professional.
For More Reading
Mayo Clinic St. John’s Wort Side Effects