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Is It Unsafe to Mix Herbal and Synthetic Medicines?

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While synthetic or pharmaceutical drugs are relied on by the majority of people, herbal medicine is somewhat on the bad side of their opinions. Herbal medicines are popular for being less quick and less effective than synthetic drugs. This might be true, but it is also false at the same time.

Many people also think that herbal medicines are not supported by research, which is why they are less trusted. Pharmaceutical drugs are human-made based on their thorough research, after all. In some cases, people reach for herbal medicine because it’s safer and natural. But are you sure that all-natural treatments are safe?

Natural Vs. Synthetic Medicine

By definition, herbal medicine is a holistic and therapeutic remedy to address emotional, mental, and spiritual health. It is considered a healing remedy that assists the body in its natural healing process, though it doesn’t specifically pinpoint which part to aid. Synthetic drugs, on the other hand, are specific in their aiding actions, targeting pathologies.

Herbals have a broad range of effects on the physiological system of the human body. They usually function towards helping the body’s own natural healing, yet often nonspecific. Pharmaceutical drugs target symptoms caused by specific diseases as informed by medical and scientific studies. But this doesn’t mean that herbal medicine is not supported by research.

There are widely growing studies related to herbal medicine, and many healing components of herbs have been known for generations. As years go by, more natural healing properties are being studied by science. Herbal medicine is supported by research. Although since herbals are inconsistent by nature, they can be misleading.

Synthetic drugs can be misleading since each individual’s body reacts to different medications and drugs they take. Some are responding well; others are not. Some experience such side effects; others don’t.

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How are they prepared?

When it comes to manufacturing, synthetic drugs often follow strict standards and operating procedures. Each batch must be guaranteed to be of the same amount, measurements, substances, and quality. The FDA will approve if they’re safe enough to consume by people.

Meanwhile, the production of herbal medicines doesn’t have to be strict in their operation, so batches can become inconsistent. Depending on the company wherein they’re produced, they don’t necessarily follow such regulated rules and are not always approved by the FDA. The FDA considers herbals as food and not medicine, thus not tested, manufactured, and labeled the same way as pharmaceutical drugs.

The manufacturing of synthetic drugs comes through extensive studies and testing before letting the FDA inspect its safety and release it to the world. Herbal medicine goes through a process like herbal tincture manufacturing, wherein herbal plants are extracted into liquid form and become actual medicine.

When you self-medicate with a pharmaceutical drug, you should know whether the FDA approves it, and you are most probably safe to take it. When it comes to herbal medicine, you should also be careful because not all natural medications are safe to take. Some herbals are toxic, especially if mixed with synthetic drugs.

Why is it not safe to combine herbal medicine and synthetic drugs?

Natural doesn’t always mean safe. It is not advisable to take herbal and synthetic medicines at the same time because patients have been found to suffer more serious consequences. That includes treating neurological and mental problems, HIV, and heart diseases. Since herbal medicines are natural products, they can still greatly influence dangerous biological effects in the body.

There are comprehensive studies that St. John’s wort can treat mild to moderate depression. Although when mixed with synthetic drugs, it can increase its side effects and reduce the effectiveness of the synthetic drug. This herbal medicine is not advisable to take alongside warfarin, statins, antihistamines, HIV, and birth control medications.

Other herbal medicines like garlic, ginkgo, and ginger can increase the chance of excessive bleeding. Chromium and cinnamon can cause decreased blood sugar. Hormonal effects can be caused by dong quai, black cohosh, kudzu, and saw palmetto. Blood pressure may exceed because of bloodroot, green tea, hawthorn, and maté. These can be dangerous and can lead to further health problems if taken alongside synthetic drugs.

This is why doctors advise you to educate yourself and think twice before you self-medicate. This applies not just to synthetic drugs but also to herbal medicines. Herbal medicines can compromise the safety and effectiveness of synthetic drugs if incorrectly used. They are supposed to be not be used to cure ailments but to improve natural bodily function and prevent diseases.

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