No matter your current level of health, when looking into herbal remedies you should exercise caution. There are dangerous drug interactions and the remedies themselves can sometimes cause more harm than good. For anyone with serious health conditions, such as any heart condition, these precautions should be taken to ensure that there are not any contraindications in your medicine cabinet or with your condition. Always consult a physician when adding anything to your health regimen: exercise, dietary restrictions and herbal supplements all merit a trip to the doctor to ensure you are safe and healthy. Here are 10 herbs you need to make sure and avoid if you suffer from a heart condition.
St. John’s Wort
A potent herbal remedy most commonly used to combat insomnia, depression and anxiety disorders, St. John’s wort affects everyone very differently. It can be found in a tea, herbal supplements capsule and tablet, liquid extracts or the yellow-flowered plant. It is dangerous when mixed with statins, beta-blockers and many of the other commonly prescribed medicines for those with heart conditions as it negates their effects. Furthermore, it could exacerbate common side effects of the medicines.
This close cousin of the common blueberry is an herbal remedy for some circulatory problems, like varicose veins. It is typically taken in a capsule supplement containing the dried powdered extract. Bilberry’s effect on the circulatory system means anyone with a history of heart disease, including high blood pressure or a history of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) should avoid this herbal remedy. Everyone taking any medications for these disorders, especially anticoagulants like Warfarin should avoid this plant. It has been associated with an increase in the bleeding risk typically associated with blood thinners.
An herbal remedy used to treat heart conditions, hawthorn is closely related to the rose bush. Its ability to strengthen the heart and to help avoid heart failure is precisely what makes it a danger to those with heart disease. Not all heart disease is created equal; there are more problems than just a weak heart. If you are experiencing any other heart problem or if you are already taking medication to correct that problem, taking hawthorn can cause major problems. Hawthorn will increase heart rate and blood pressure, having the exact opposite effect of beta blockers and other medications used to treat serious heart conditions. This could be potentially deadly.
Like some of the other remedies on the list, Black Cohosh can interact violently with beta blockers, statins and calcium-channel blockers. The combination of these heart medications and black cohosh significantly increases the possibility of serious liver damage. Typically the root of this plant is used to treat the hormonal changes associated with menopause, like hot flashes, night sweats and vaginal dryness. It is also used to ease joint or muscle pain.
Not just for medical uses, ginger can be found in everything from vitamin water, energy drinks and candy for flavor or to promote general health and energy. As a medicinal remedy, it is used to calm stomach problems like indigestion and heart burn and ease inflammation especially in the joints. But as herbal remedies sometimes do, large therapeutic doses of ginger can seriously affect the clotting factor by either speeding them up or drastically slowing them down depending on the medicines it interacts with in the body. When used in small amounts in cooking and baked goods there shouldn’t be an issue, but those with a history of heart disease or who are on medications for their heart should be careful.
Gingko is another herb added into health and energy products as well as sold in capsule and tablet form as a beneficial supplement. Used in the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, gingko is particularly good at improving and maintaining memory and cognitive function. But for those on anticoagulant agents like warfarin or a blood thinning regimen like aspirin therapy are at increased risk for bleeding problems.
Saw palmetto, an extract from the fruit of palmetto trees is most often used to treat reoccurring pelvic and urinary problems. The prevention of urinary tract infection (UTI), decreased libido and recurring pelvic pain all make the list of issues treated by the tea, capsule or liquid extract of this fruit. But as is the case with other remedies on the list, saw palmetto helps to thin the blood making medicine to thicken the blood and speed clotting useless and blood thinners more dangerous and life threatening.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose is a specific variety of the plant which, when used as an oil extract, can treat eczema, topically. Less frequently it is used to combat gastrointestinal disease and occasionally high blood pressure issues experienced during pregnancy. Same as the home remedies for a number of other disorders, evening primrose oil contains a chemical, gamma-linolenic acid that thins the blood. This can again reverse or increase the effects of certain heart medication with fatal consequences.
Another ubiquitous herbal supplement, ginseng can be found in health and energy drinks for general wellness as well as paired with other herbal remedies in various supplements. This plant, native to Asia, is sold as a capsule and is used to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure or as a boost to the immune system and stamina. With large doses of ginseng, you might find an increase in blood pressure. Anything herbal or otherwise that drastically effects blood pressure should be avoid with heart disease because of the dangers of changing the body’s baseline. Also, ginseng is known to interfere with the effectiveness of anticoagulants.
This potent bulb is often taken for a number of different reasons in supplement form. As a supplement garlic has antibiotic properties, it lowers cholesterol and is effective as a blood thinner. The fact that blood thinning can decrease or increase the effectiveness of your heart medication makes it dangerous. Don’t worry too much about spaghetti night, supplements are concentrated garlic in high doses that are much bigger than anything you cook with.