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Today's message is late, because I was up for most of the night watching the collapse of the US economy, which I have been predicting for years but never expected it to happen so rapidly. My readers from the US should realize that your world collapsed yesterday and will only get worse over the next twenty years. The IMF has issued a first time ever announcement that everyone should prepare for the absolute worrst.

Herbal Risks

Long term readers of these pages know that I prefer home-grown veggies over factory food and vitamin supplements, which is the only option of city denizens. And, for medicinal purposes, I prefer herbs over pharmaceuticals. However, it is important to understand the risks of each approach.

Herbalists argue that it is becoming increasingly important for MDs to ask their patients about their use of herbal remedies, as the public are simply not aware of the problems that can result from their combination with anaesthetics and pharmaceutical medicines. In general, it is strongly advised that patients stop taking herbal medicines two weeks prior to surgery and mention any herbal remedies or alternative supplements to their medical doctor. Unfortunately, most medical doctors are grossly uninformed on herbal medications.

It is a complex issue which will need time and significant action to resolve. In the meantime efforts are being made to raise awareness on both sides of the operating table.

MDs need to incorporate herbal remedies into their consultative questioning, and patients need to understand the risks involved by not bringing attention to their alternative treatments.

Until herbal remedies are recognized as the force they have become in everyday healthcare, the confusion - and potentially life-threatening consequences - will remain.


•  Valerian

Why?: Long-term use could increase the amount of anaesthesia needed.

What to do: Lower dose weeks before surgery.

•  Garlic

Why?: May cause bleeding.

What to do: Discontinue at least seven days before surgery.

•  Echinacea

Why?: Can cause allergic reactions, impairs immune suppressive drugs and may impair healing of a wound.

What to do: Stop use as far in advance as possible.

•  St John’s Wort

Why: Alters metabolisms of other drugs.

What to do: Discontinue at least five days before surgery.

•  Ginseng

Why?: Increases risk of bleeding. Interferes with anti-clotting drug.

What to do: Discontinue at least seven days before surgery.

Any questions??