What do we know about taking herbal medicine?

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Herbal medicine hidden risks pose threat to health

Herbal medicines are those with active ingredients made from plant parts, such as leaves, roots or flowers. But being “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe for you to take.

Just like conventional medicines, herbal medicines will have an effect on the body, and can be potentially harmful if not used correctly.

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Potential issues with herbal medicines

If you’re taking, or plan to take, any herbal medicines, be aware of the following:

·           They may cause problems if you’re taking other medicines. They could result in reduced or enhanced effects of the medicine, including potential side effects, you may experience a bad reaction or side effects after taking an herbal medicine.

·           Not all herbal medicines are regulated. Remedies specially prepared for individuals don’t need a license, and those manufactured outside and may not be subject to regulation.

·           Evidence for the effectiveness of herbal medicines is generally very limited. Although some people find them helpful, in many cases their use tends to be based on traditional use rather than scientific research., Certain groups of people should be particularly wary of taking herbal medicines.

Who should avoid herbal medicines?

Taking an herbal medicine may not be suitable for:

people taking other medicines, people with serious health conditions, such as liver or kidney disease, people who are going to have surgery, pregnant or breastfeeding women, the elderly, children – as with all medicines, herbal medicines should be kept out of the sight and reach of children

Herbal medicines and surgery

It’s important to tell your doctor if you take any herbal medicines before undergoing surgery. This is because: some herbal medicines might interfere, with anesthesia and other medicines used before, during or after procedures, some herbal medicines may interfere with blood clotting and blood pressure, which may increase the risk of bleeding during or after surgery, your doctor may therefore advise you to stop taking any herbal medicines during the weeks leading up to your operation.

What to look for when buying herbal medicine

If you want to try herbal medicine, look out for a traditional herbal registration (THR) marking on the product packaging.

This means the medicine complies with quality standards relating to safety and manufacturing, and it provides information about how and when to use it.

But you should be aware that:, THR products are intended for conditions that can be self-medicated and don’t require medical supervision, such as coughs, colds or general aches and pains, using THR products for more serious conditions could be harmful, especially if you delay seeking medical advice, claims made for THR products are based on traditional usage and not on evidence of the product’s effectiveness, a THR mark doesn’t mean the product is completely safe for everyone to take.

Why you need to be cautious about herbal medicines

Formulations available are not regulated or studied in the same way as prescription medications. Although there have been studies done to evaluate the claimed benefits of some herbs, most remain unproven.

Possible side effects can be mild or severe, ranging from allergies, effects on the liver and heart, and thinning of the blood Many current formulations have more than one ingredient, which can increase the chance of side effects or interactions., Combining herbal therapy with prescription medications increases the potential for interactions and side effect, the dose of herbs required for the claimed effect remains largely unknown.

As you can see, it’s important to inform your healthcare provider if you are using herbal therapies. Many resources are available to review the possible side effects or interactions of herbal medications. Take advantage of these resources because warning labels are not required on “food supplements”—the classification for herbal therapies.

Herbal remedies are becoming increasingly popular among patients as treatment for such varied medical problems as arthritis, depression, diabetes, menstrual irregularity, and pulmonary (lung disease) conditions. However, there are many negative effects of herbal preparations. the potential side effects of various herbs and the lack of standardization and control that can contribute to contamination and toxicity of herbal products.

What are the side effects of herbs?

Herbal medicines may produce negative effects that can range from mild to severe, including: allergic reactions and rashes, asthma, headaches, nausea, and vomiting, diarrhea.

Can herbs damage the liver?

In fact, some common herbs could cause toxic liver disease. Watch out for supplements that contain aloe Vera, black cohosh, cascara, chaparral, comfrey, ephedra, or kava. Chemicals and solvents.

What should be done before starting herbal medication?

Discuss with your doctor the possible harmful effects of herbal medications and whether they interact with other medications you are using or with any diseases you have. Particularly if you are an older adult, elimination of herbal medications from your body might be reduced, leading to a higher risk of harmful effects.

Always consider new symptoms as a potential effect of herbal medications. If you experience a new symptom, stop the medication, report the side effect to your doctor, and consider reporting it through the Safety Reporting

Avoid use of herbal medications in children and if you are pregnant, attempting to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. Herbal medications have not been tested in pregnant women or in children.

Traditional medicine in The Gambia

In the Gambia despite the unscientific, and at times harmful, treatments it remains a popular choice of health care that is culturally acceptable and readily available in the rural communities. So important are culture and ethnicity to health outcomes that, even if structural constraints are removed in the health sector, desired results are unlikely to be achieved unless the cultures of communities are taken into consideration by health policymakers and planners and providers of health care.

Indeed, increased attention to these issues by policymakers increases the chances of success in implementing policy. If this is done, providers will be less likely to display an ambivalence towards the use of traditional medicine and users will be less likely to vacillate between modern and traditional medicine. With an increase in chronic diseases (and new diseases such as AIDS) with no known cure, it seems that this valuable resource should be tapped safely and more effectively, with support and supervision, to improve the chances of health for all by the year 2023.

10 famous home remedies in the Gambia

Moringa (Nebedai) in Wolof, (Jamboo) in Mandinka and (Binebeddai) in Jola

Ngerr (in Wolof), Mamakunkoyo (in Mandinka), Geloki Gehlod (Pular)

Ginger used in many dishes in the Gambia.

Lemon the juice of lemon daring early in the morning.

Cassava is used in cuisine when making supakanja.

Solom solom the fruit are consumed to bring blood pressure down.

Dengidek (in Wolof), Barkole (Pular), Owo (in Mandinka) is believed to treat diarrhea, cold, toothache worms, cough and sickle cell anemia.

Herbal tea, to treat book nose, fever and cold.

Hobi (in Wolof) Kassala (in Mandinka), Tiga (Pular), for treatment of infections, abscesses, ringworm and general weakness.

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy is a complementary or alternative medicine. This means that homeopathy is different from treatments that are part of conventional Western medicine in important ways.

It’s based on a series of ideas developed in the 1790s by a German doctor called Samuel Hahnemann., A central principle of the “treatment” is that “like cures like” – that a substance that causes certain symptoms can also help to remove those symptoms., A second central principle is based around a process of dilution and shaking called succession., Practitioners believe that the more a substance is diluted in this way, the greater its power to treat symptoms.

Many homeopathic remedies consist of substances that have been diluted many times in water until there’s none, or almost none, of the original substance left., Homeopathy is used to “treat” an extremely wide range of conditions, including physical conditions such as asthma and psychological conditions such as depression.

Does homeopathy work?

There’s been extensive investigation of the effectiveness of homeopathy. There’s no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.,

What should you expect if you try it?

When you first see a homeopath, they’ll usually ask you about any specific health conditions and your general wellbeing, emotional state, lifestyle, and diet., Based on this, the homeopath will decide on the course of treatment, which often takes the form of homeopathic remedies given as a pill, capsule or tincture (solution)., Your homeopath may recommend that you attend one or more follow-up appointments so the remedy’s effects on your health can be assessed.

When is it used?

Homeopathy is used for an extremely wide range of health conditions. Many practitioners believe it can help with any condition., Among the most common conditions that people seek homeopathic treatment for are:

Asthma, ear infections, hay fever, mental health conditions, such as depression, stress and anxiety, allergies, such as food allergies dermatitis (an allergic skin condition), arthritis, high blood pressure

There’s no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is an effective treatment for these or any other health conditions., Some practitioners also claim homeopathy can prevent malaria or other diseases. There’s no evidence to support this, and no scientifically plausible way that homeopathy can prevent diseases., The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which advises the NHS on the use of treatments, doesn’t recommend using homeopathy in the treatment of any health condition.

Is homeopathy safe?

Homeopathic remedies are generally safe, and the risk of a serious adverse side effect arising from taking these remedies is thought to be small.

Some homeopathic remedies may contain substances that aren’t safe or interfere with the action of other medicines.

You should talk to your doctor before stopping any treatment prescribed by a Doctor, or avoiding procedures such as vaccination, in favor of homeopathy.

Author’s email:

[email protected], send text messages only to 002207774469 3-6PM.

Dr Hassan Azadeh, senior lecturer at the University of The Gambia, Clinical Director at Medicare Health Services