Health Alert(2): Herbal Supplements Interfere With Success of Surgery

Before undergoing surgery, one important info which must be disclosed to your doctor is whether you are taking herbal supplements. This is often left out by patients when doctors enquire on what medications they are taking, as often many people do not equate medicines with supplements.

Many intensive care physicians including anaesthesiologists will tell you of their experience with patients who take a long time to wake up after surgery; develop fits upon recovery or bleed excessively after surgery; all due to the taking of herbals.

Incidents like the above used to mystify many doctors previously but evidence is now clear that several over-the- counter supplements can interfere with the various actions of medications used during surgery.

Take a look below at some common examples:

Herbal supplement Possible complications
Aloe vera May cause increased intestinal muscle movement to digest food (peristalsis), may decrease effectiveness of water pills (diuretics) given after surgery
Bromelain May cause bleeding or interact with antibiotics such as amoxicillin or tetracyclines
Danshen May cause bleeding
Dong quai May cause bleeding
Echinacea May interfere with immune functioning, may alter effectiveness of immunosuppressant drugs given after transplant surgery
Ephedra May cause abnormal heartbeat, may cause extreme high blood pressure and coma if combined with certain antidepressants and anesthesia
Feverfew May cause bleeding
Garlic May cause bleeding, may interfere with normal blood clotting
Ginger May cause bleeding
Ginkgo May cause bleeding
Ginseng May cause bleeding, may cause rapid heartbeat, may cause high blood pressure
Goldenseal May cause or worsen swelling and high blood pressure
Kava May enhance sedative effects of anesthesia
Licorice (not including licorice candy) May increase blood pressure
Omega-3 fatty acids May cause bleeding if taken in doses greater than 3 grams a day
Senna May cause electrolyte imbalance
St. John’s wort May increase or decrease the effects of some drugs used during and after surgery
Valerian May prolong the effects of anesthesia
Primrose plant

Evening primrose oil-stop taking this 2 weeks before surgery

The above list is not exhaustive. As more cases are encountered, the list gets longer!
Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) is now implicated in the cause of fits or seizures following general anaesthesia.
Some points to note if you are undergoing planned surgery:
  1. Remember that the list of medications that you need to reveal to your doctor includes all supplements, whether as pills or as a drink.
  2. Some of these herbals may have to be stopped more than 2 weeks prior to planned surgery.
  3. In emergency surgery, remember to reveal to your doctor and next-of-kin what you are taking so that some preventive measures may be undertaken beforehand by the doctors.
4.  People believe if something is natural, it is safe. That is not necessarily true. If in doubt, show your
care-giver the original container of the supplement.
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9 responses

  1. Interesting post, thanks for the info! I’ve used a few of those long term in the past so its good to bear this stuff in mind!

  2. Thanks for this valuable information. I do take food supplements before but not so lately. However with this revelation I think it’s time to get a consultive view first before consuming any of the supplement. Never thought of the “side” effect caused by food supplements before.

  3. […] this interesting article here -> Herbal supplement interfere with success of surgery. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

  4. Its important we do not jump to conclusions so quickly. The article, in its essence could be correct in the particular instance if you are likely to be heading towards surgery at sometime.. but also do not take the direct implication that all supplements are bad and all have bad side effects.

    Do take it in context especially pre or post surgery, the individual is likely to be subjected to a whole hosts of pharmaceutical drugs – drugs are always toxic, without exception.

    Supplements which are wholly from a natural and safe source, and taken in the prescribed amount, is likely to be more beneficial than harmful. Some of these herbs have been in use by our fore-fathers for generations. If it had killed them or left them with bad side effects, do you think they would have continued to use those particular herbs, for healing..

    food for thought.

  5. [..]These herbal supplements mainly come from the herbs or natural plantations. It’s indeed that not all the plantations have the same benefits to our health but on the other hand selecting the wrong type of plantation may risk our health[…]

  6. omron pedometers | Reply

    Very informative article with lots of useful info – thxs. Keep up the good work.

  7. I believe different because my family use another brand name.It’s secure and i love it very much.But next Health Care Products I can consider this vacuum that you present.Appreciate!!!

  8. Doctor2008: Gave it a testrun – no problems encountered. Firewall issue?

  9. […] very few makers insert this warning message on their labels. I have written in an earlier posting here on the list of supplements which can interfere with […]

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