Some of the words used to describe not only foods, but supplements are natural, organic, “green”, herbal and botanical. While many seniors quite often add various vitamins to supplement their diets, the use of herbal supplements has caused some controversy. Herbal supplements come in many forms including dried and liquid. Many seniors swear by them. They attribute their good health to the use of them. Others aren’t so quick to jump on the bandwagon. The prevention and healing of ailments has often coincided with various herbs for centuries. Stores don’t quite offer those same herbs now.
Just how safe are herbal supplements, especially for seniors?
- While medications and over the counter drugs and vitamins have to pass rigorous standards before they are offered to the public for use, standards for herbal supplements are quite different. Unless they are classified as a drug, they are not put to the same tests as other items we purchase for use.
- Some herbal supplements can worsen certain medical conditions. An example of this would be kidney disease. Many supplements can injure your kidneys and make your condition worse instead of better.
- Herbal supplements often do not interact well with many prescribed drugs. In most cases if you are on any type of medication, you shouldn’t be taking herbal supplements at the same time. One of the most commonly used supplements is St. John’s wort. It can interact with medications such as antidepressants and blood thinners, among others.
Before deciding on an herbal supplement, check with your healthcare provider as well as your pharmacist. Your doctor can tell you if it’s safe for you to take certain supplements and your pharmacist can give you a list of possible interactions. Click here for more information for seniors who are interested in herbal supplements.