Translating Herbal Supplement Research for Patient Education Dr. Rosanne Pruitt, PhD,FNP - Adam Carroll - Ashley Lemanski
Milk thistle is used to treat chronic liver disease, decrease nephrotoxicity, decrease cholesterol and atherosclerotic plaques, decrease blood glucose. Milk thistle is also renal protective. While, much of the research done on milk thistle has been done on animals, few-to-no adverse reactions have been observed in animal studies or in people using the supplement (Haddad, Vallerand, Brault, Haddad, 2011; Ninsontia, Pongjit, Chaotham, Chanvorachote, 2011; Radjabian, Huseini, 2010; Sheela, Jose, Sathyamurthy, Kumar, 2013; Tsai et al., 2008).
Ginseng has been tested in both clinical trials and animal studies. It is useful in increasing peripheral dilation and in preventing obesity and metabolic syndrome when used over a short period of time. It should be avoided when using many anticoagulants (Bauer, 2013; Li et al., 2014; Park et al., 2014).
St. Johns Wart
Use with Caution
St. John’s Wart has been promoted for the treatment of depression, smoking cessation, cancer, premenstrual symptoms, and ADHD. Current research only definitively supports its efficacy in randomized human clinical trials for the treatment of depression. There is not enough substantial research supporting its other uses. Caution should be advised when taking St. John’s Wart due to the potential for serious adverse drug interactions. Limited research has been conducted on the long term effects of this drug, so research recommends use for less than 3 months at a time (Apaydin et. al,2016; Lind et al.,1996; Yarnell. E, 2015). It is advised that ginkgo be used with caution, especially when being used over extended periods of time (Bauer, 2013).
Use with Caution
Ginkgo is effective in reducing periodontal pathogens, treating ADHD, and it has a protective effect on cerebral ischemia (Bo, Yang, Ruili, & Benyan, 2014; Cheng et al., 2014; Shakibaei, Radmanesh, Salari, & Mahaki, 2015). However, ginkgo can interact with other drugs including anticlotting medications (aspirin) and thiazide diuretics (Bauer, 2103).
Goldenseal is often used for the treatment of sore throats, GI disease, and wounds. However, it is not recommended because studies have revealed that it can increase the incidence and size of liver tumors and cause DNA damage. As a result, goldenseal should be avoided (Chen et al., 2013; Dunnick et al., 2011; Harris, Grace, & Eddey, 2015).
Ephedra is commonly used as a weight loss supplement and an energy booster. Research supports its efficacy in weight loss and increasing energy but strongly recommends that ephedra be avoided due to its serious adverse effects. Side effects of ephedra observed in human clinical trials have been linked with hypertension, stroke, myocardial infarction, and death. The risks of the herbal supplement clearly outweigh any benefit it may have on an individual’s health (Abourashed et al., 2003; Boozer et al., 2002; Haller & Benowitz, 2000; Shekelle et al., 2003).