Are Herbal Supplements for Everyone?

A supplement is something you take to deal with a possible deficiency, to improve a medical condition or to improve overall health. You can find them in your grocery store and your pharmacy. In fact, you can find some in convenience and “big box” stores. Anyone can purchase a supplement, but that doesn’t mean that all supplements are for everyone.

There are age limits on many supplements when it comes to children. No child under six should be given a supplement containing eucalyptus, even if it’s in a cough drop. Children under two can’t be around peppermint oil. Both can cause serious breathing issues. If you are a parent thinking of using supplements to help your children, talk to your pediatrician and your pharmacist. They can help guide you to the right supplement at the right time.

If you take medications, choosing a supplement just got harder. Most herbs will interact with one drug or another. Licorice can interfere with blood pressure and blood sugar medicines. Echinacea can interfere with immune response medications. All of these could be life threatening. Talk to your pharmacist about supplements before taking them. The pharmacist has a complete list of all the medications you take and can tell you if there are any interactions.

If you have heart disease, there are supplements you will need to avoid. Licorice root is a good example. It can cause your blood pressure to go up and interfere with heart medications. People with kidney problems may need to avoid supplements containing potassium.

If you are a senior citizen, you may have problems with supplements. For the most part, the problem with the elderly and supplements has to do with the problems mentioned above. The older we get, the more medications we take. However, evidence does show that many elderly people can have better quality of life if they take nutritional supplements. This is an issue to discuss with your doctor to make sure you don’t overdose on some of the vitamins and minerals in various supplements.

While not precisely an herbal supplement, energy drinks should be addressed. These are not a replacement for sleep. Sleep is something everyone needs, and we need an average of seven hours per night. They are also not safe for everyone. People with certain cardiovascular diseases could develop some serious problems if they use these popular products. Also, beware the sugar. Even if you aren’t overweight, a lot of sugary drinks may be bad for your heart.

Supplements can be beneficial if taken at the right time and by the right person. However, that isn’t a blank check for everyone. It’s important to respect the supplement and choose them with great care.

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