What Are the Side Effects of Herbs and Supplements?

People are becoming more pro-active about their health. Individuals are doing more grocery shopping at stores like Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, buying organic and consuming less processed foods.

Natural cures are also being explored for common ailments. Before you choose a natural cure you should know the therapeutic use, scientific research, and warnings associated with that herb or supplement. Here is a short list of the most popular supplements, herbs and their effects:


Studies show ginger may prevent blood from clotting and reduce nausea during chemotherapy (University of Maryland Medical Center, 2011). Ginger is available in extracts, capsules, oils for digestion, and heart disease.

Imported whole ginger may contain insects or mold. Side effects from high doses may include heartburn, diarrhea, and irritation of the mouth.


This is an over the counter herbal remedy used for the common cold, bronchitis, influenza, and inflammation of the pharynx. If used beyond 8 weeks Echinacea could cause hepatotoxicity and should not be used with anabolic steroids.


Used in the reduction of joint structure deterioration as in osteoarthritis. The Food and Drug Administration has determined there is no credible research to support or reject the health claim.


Kava is used to relieve stress, anxiety, sleeplessness, and problems related to menopause. It is considered unsafe by the FDA. Kava should not be taken with any prescription or nonprescription, drug, alcohol, anxiety agents, anticonvulsants, or antipsychotic medications.

St. John’s Wort

Used for depression and anxiety it may decrease the effectiveness of some drugs or increase the effect of others. Do not take with antidepressants, allergy drugs, cough medicine, or birth control. The FDA suggests St. John’s Wort not be used with antiretroviral medication used to treat HIV and AIDS.

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