6) You take herbal laxatives or "dieter's teas" to induce regular bowel movements.The herbs in these products, called anthranoid laxatives, include:
Tip Talk with your primary care provider about weaning off laxatives gradually and recovering normal bowel function. The key is to do it slowly—usually in combination with a fiber supplement such as psyllium and adequate fluids.
7) You take herbs and supplements before or after surgery.Your surgeon needs to know about all herbs and supplements you are taking to prevent complications. Herbs and supplements can interact with anaesthestics or cause excessive bleeding. Columbia University's Department of Plastic Surgery recommends that all herbs and supplements be discontinued 2 to 3 weeks prior to surgery. The herbs they identified as some of the most risky yet commonly used include:
- glucosamine and chondroitin
- coenzyme q10
- saw palmetto
- omega-3 fatty acids, flax seed oil, fish oil
- ephedra/ma huang
- kava kava
- St. john's wort
- vitamin E
8) You don't tell your doctor about the herbs or supplements you're taking or stop taking medications on your own.A 1997 study by David Eisenberg, MD, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, discovered that almost half of Americans use some form alternative medicine, only a third of them told their doctors.
Why is this? A survey published in the Journal of Family Practice found patients didn't reveal their use of natural therapies because they thought their doctors wouldn't be interested, were biased against alternative therapies, or didn't know enough about them to comment.
However, there is increasing evidence that not telling could have serious risks to your health. Many herbs interact with common medications and medical procedures and may increase side effects or reduce the effectiveness of your treatment.
- Type up a list of your current supplements, including the ingredients, ingredient amounts, and how often you take them. Next time you go to your family doctor, bring the list with you and ask that it be added to your chart.
- You may wish to consider consulting a licensed natural practitioner who can inform you of any interactions.
- When asking your family doctor a question, frame your questions so they are as specific as possible, such as "I am thinking of trying massage therapy for my neck. Is there any reason why I shouldn't have it?" If communication is difficult, consider whether it's in your best interest to find a family doctor who is easier to talk with and is non-judgmental about your choices.
9) You rely soley on the manufacturer's website for information about safety and side effects.You should know about potential side effects and safety concerns from an independent resource that is current and is based on scientific research. Some manufacturers will describe their products as natural therefore safe, but some have the potential to cause serious adverse effects if taken improperly.
For example, in a 2003 study published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, Adrienne Fugh-Berman at George Washington University states that "the use of bust-enhancing products should be discouraged because of lack of evidence for efficacy and long-term safety concerns." And yet these pills are incredibly popular--they're one of the most searched-for herbal pills on the web. Herbs used in many of these breast enhancement pills (e.g. hops, fenugreek) have been found to have potent estrogenic effects and may increase the risk of hormonal cancers such as endometrial and breast cancer. What you need to know about herbal breast enhancement.
10) You don't take your herbs and supplements consistently.It's important to take herbs and supplements regularly as recommended in order to assess whether or not they are working. A common mistake is to start taking a supplement, skip a day, then two, and then after a while start taking another supplement because you haven't noticed an improvement. If you're not consistent, you'll never know whether it's effective.
Tip Get a day-of-the-week pill organizer online or at your local drug store.