Herbal Treatment for General Inflammation

HERBS AND GENERAL INFLAMMATION (COINFESTATION/COINFECTION)

 

BY ALAN HOPKING MA MNIMH [MRCHM*]

 

WHAT IS GENERAL INFLAMMATION?

It is now known that idiopathic inflammatory conditions that are chronic and long-term are primarily caused by mycoplasma bacteria. When two or more types of such bacteria infect the body the result is a synergy of reactions, rather than two types of symptoms. This means that the two are greater than the sum of the parts. They cause cytokine cascades that are very difficult to detect by present methods, and also very difficult to treat simply because of the astronomical numbers involved. But treatments can be successful with persistence and determination. Treatments with herbs can be particularly successful.

- research confirms that norepinephrine can stimulate blood stem cells in bone marrow to make more of a particular kind of immune cell (monocytes) which ramps up inflammation in the body (online research paper).

"I did a Kundalini meditation last night and asked for clarity. Today I found your site and burst into tears from relief and gratitude, that my request had been answered. I read your article on inflammation and totally understand and believe everything you say in it." Terri

What are mycoplasma bacteria?
When the immune system is low for whatever reason (primarily, stress), stealth pathogens can enter a person (from food, animals, pets, insect bites e.g. ticks giving Lyme Disease, even sexual intimacy) and replicate very quickly to decrease the activity of certain targeted areas of the human immune system while causing reactive inflammatory response in other parts of the body. This overactivity in different parts of the body is called cytokine cascades, stimulating cytotoxic inflammation. This imbalance between cellular types, organs and systems in the body makes a person feel ill, exhausted, with muscular aches and pains, nausea, insomnia, lack of appetite, allergies, subdermal itching, etc. These are some of the inexplicable symptoms (to your GP or specialist), or they will be ascribed side-effects from antibiotics or other drugs, called iatrogenic diseases, as well they may. In these circumstances (where diagnosis is unknown or uncertain), this inflammation in the body is likely to be the result of pathogens (mycoplasma and species) using the body's own immune response in different parts of the body for their own parasitic purposes. 
As is clear by this and as you will note in the later sections of my article*, illnesses and diseases are wide and varied, and some have been identified, e.g. Lyme, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriasis and other skin infections, Lupus, Lichen Planus, ME, FMS, MS, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s, COPD, MND, Colitis, Crohn’s, many forms of cancer, macular degeneration, stroke, heart attack, leukaemia, white cell degeneration, lymphadenopathy, bipolar, schizophrenia, neurological diseases, renal infections and failure, anaemia, tumours, urogenital infections, are a few of the range of conditions that probably have their cause due to mycoplasma spp and bartonella bacteria.

What are the causes of these infections?
It is now acknowledged by cutting edge researchers into these organisms that multiple parasite species causing coinfection is the rule now, rather than the exception. We've all heard about bird flu, how that this virus jumped species: from chicken to human. This is happening more frequently now, and it seems especially with regards to these tiny organisms called mycoplasma bacteria. They really are minute. For example, in general four ordinary bacteria are a tight fit in a cell. When it comes to mycoplasma, 8000 can fit in a cell. These bacterial parasites are feeding off the contents of the cell, upsetting its normal function and healthy state, and excreting causing toxic overload. Some of the symptoms have been listed above, but any system can become partially paralysed according to the predilection of the pathogen concerned, i.e. the heart and cardiovascular system, the lungs, the urogenital system, the digestive organs, the liver and gall bladder, the pancreas, the nervous system and brain, the lymphatic glands, and so on, and can cause cancer. Usually one or other organ or system rather than many. This can severely disable the person's day to day activities. Treatment needs to be swift and sustained to protect the healthy cells and permit regeneration of new cells to restore normal function.
I said above that a low immune system allows for the infestation of the person. But this doesn't just happen. It is affecting us all. We all have a lower immune system. The reason is due to the prolonged use of antibiotics over the past 70 years. Whatever the nature of a complaint taken to the GP a course of antibiotics has been usually offered. Or antidepressants, sleeping tablets, metformin, aspirin, headache pills, statins, steroids, and many others. Dietary and lifestyle advice is usually not offered.
But there is another reason that has come to be recognised. It is on our farms. In general, worldwide, farming with hormonal stimulating fertilizers, the use of pesticides, the use of unnatural feeds for livestock, overuse of vetinary drugs and injections, etc. has upset the ecological harmony. Eradication of weeds; plunder of woodland and meadows (said to be 97% in UK), up to the destruction of huge areas of rainforest in South America and now Africa. Over-fishing of the seas with ridiculously large nets, with very few national sea parks where fishing is not allowed, etc. There has been a chronic decline in insect life, bees, birds, along with livestock infections, (farmers are guilty of not supporting insect life by having corridors of wild flowers running alongside their crops and interconnecting with other fields of crops or livestock grasslands) and so it goes on right through the food chain. Answers are easy but the selfish human being is only thinking of short-term gains and not long-term health and balance within nature. And we are now part of the decline, the disruption, the dis-ease. Hence, our defences are not what they used to be. These microorganisms naturally respond and gain a foothold where before the immune systems of all creatures kept things in reasonable balance for life to evolve.
These deadly bacterial organisms are all members of the Proteobacteria phylum which include Bartonella, Ehrlickia, Anaplasma which are coinfections of Lyme. Closely related to these include Klebsiella, E. coli, Cholera, Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Shigella. All these have evolved resistance to antibiotics. Others are Yersinia transmitted by fleas (as bartonella is), also gonorrhoea bacteria, Helicobacter and Campylobacter organisms.
This means that there are diseases and illnesses that are emerging within the population that have never been seen before. They are confounding the medical profession, and pathologists are baffled. The dilemma is, as I said above, when two or more of these organisms infest the body the problems that they cause are a great deal more complex than what any one of them can do by themselves. They coinfect using a negative synergy. By working together they cause inflammatory processes in different organs and systems of their hosts (us) for their own development and survival. This causes their host (the human) to suffer a range of different and individual symptoms, including tiredness, low energy and exhaustion, aches and pains in different muscle groups and joints, headaches and migraines or a muggy head, itchy skin or scalp or sensitive skin to the point of being untouchable, hot or cold, poor appetite and digestive upsets and bowel disturbance, disturbed sleep with vivid dreams or nightmares, over-sensitive sense of hearing, taste, touch, sight (to light), smell (to smoke, perfumes, meat, etc), and others that appear unrelated diagnostically. It can also lead to growths, and tumours.

The role of the cytokines
Cytokines are small cell-signalling molecules released to the immune system, and the glial cells of the nervous system, that are important in intercellular communications in the body. When a bacterium touches a cell, the cell gives off a signal, a cytokine, that tells the immune system what is happening and what that cell needs. Each type of infective parasitic bacteria provokes a unique kind of cytokine like a siren or alarm that informs the immune system what strength of response is required rather like our emergency services (police, fire, ambulance, etc). Cytokines can call up other cytokines for a greater response from the immune system. It's like one county's police force calling on another county's for additional back up. When there is multiple coinfestation, as mycoplasma synergy, plus the cytokine response that is wide and urgent (as for acute infection) (or, to continue my simile, like the rapid response from all relevant sectors to terrorist explosions in different parts of the city or country), it is called a cytokine cascade. This multiform cytokine cascade further confounds the symptoms of illness as mentioned above. To add to the chaos, these bartonellas and mycoplasmas have adapted to the cytokine pathways exploiting them to their own advantage, and confusing the immune system to the point where it attacks itself (autoimmune diseases, like for instance rheumatoid arthritis), causing inflammatory coinfection often in different parts and organs of the body. So what begins as a normal, healthy immune response to a cytokine 999 call, turns into a zombie outrage as the cytokines themselves are infected, overpowered or reprogrammed by the sheer overwhelming numbers of highly adaptive tiny mycoplasma parasites. Researchers Graham et al (2007) state, "Hosts that are coinfected by multiple parasite species seem to be the rule rather than the exception in natural systems and some of the most devastating human diseases are associated with coinfections that challenge immune response efficacy."

Chronic Inflammation
Related to what has been said above, chronic inflammation is an immune response continuously activated eventually causing tissue damage. This is due to a poor diet, with allergic reactions, stress toxins, and mind/emotional issues. If this is left unchanged or untreated then damage to one or more body systems, including the nervous system, digestion, cardiovascular, respiratory, immune and hormonal system, etc.
A particularly destructive inflammatory molecule is called nuclear factor kappa B. These molecules can cause significant damage in the body. It is activated by the stress, poor diet, toxins, and bad lifestyle. People who are overweight, obese, indicates their bodies are in an inflammatory condition. It is said that such inflammation enters deep into cells affecting even the mitochondria - this makes the system think it is in an alarm situation, red alert, a perceived threat - this produces a continuous outpouring of cortisol from the adrenal glands (fight and flight mechanism), alongside a cascade of other stress hormones including adrenaline and norepinephrine.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs and the avoidance of high quality fats like coconut oil while also eating bad veg oils, trans fats, sugar, grains, and low-fat junk foods set the viscious cycle turning. These foods increase inflammation and heart disease. Other symptoms it causes in the body are high triglycerides, high cholesterol, dry skin, swollen painful joints, insomnia, weight gain, stress, depression and lack of exercise. This will lead to the failure of the immune system to protect against the spread of viruses, parasites, and bacteria in our systems.
Inflammation is behind the following conditions: acne, actinic keratosis, amyloidosis, arthritis, acrodermatitis, alzheimer's, ankylosing spondylitis, atherosclerosis, bursitis, candidia, colitis, crohn's, cancer, coeliac, cerebrovascular disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, frquent colds, cystitis, dermatomyositis, diabetes, eczema, fungal infections, GERD, gastritis, gout, grave's disease, heart disease, herpetic stomatis, hives, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, hypohidrosis, impetigo, vascular disease, kaposi sarcoma,lupus, lichen planus, multiple sclerosis, nephritis, prostitis, rosacea, seborrheic keratosis, sinus, parkinsons disease, psoriasis, osteoporosis, sarcoidosis, sexually transmitted infections, shingles, skin cancer, still's disease, stroke, systemic vasculitis, tinea, vaginitis, tendonitis, ulcerative colitis, vitiligo, and many others.
A test to find inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP). This indicates a potential risk for heart disease (not high cholesterol).
It is primarily essential if you have any of the stated illnesses that you change your diet. Clean up your act. Cut out sugar. Cut out safflower or sunflower or rapeseed oil, reduce your carb intake, cut out refined wheat and grain products, eat more green salads, green veg, eat organic, buy organic, free range milk and eggs and meats, and buy wild fish (not farmed), drink herb teas (cut out all sugary drinks like cola, concentrated fruit juices), drink more water (filtered or spring waters), live more simply with less condiments, gravies, sauces, cut out processed meats, cut out breakfast cereals, cut down bread and jam, and other high carb foods. Eat more beans, smoothies, freshly made juices. Buy a juicer and a good blender (smoothie maker) (like Froothie's Optimum). Learn to fast each week to get rid of the fat in your body (do our LSD Programme [Lemon Stevia Detox]). Just see how much better you feel. See how much better you sleep. See how much more energy you have. Turn over a new leaf.

Herbactive treatment of chronic systemic inflammation
There are important herbs that are known to restore health following coinfestation of these mycoplasma type parasitic bacteria. The picture is complex and treatment will have to be interactive and evolve as progress is established. Treatment can be long depending on when diagnosis is made (or, conversely, when no diagnosis is given due to the Jackson Pollock type of picture that is presented - a confusion of shapes, forms, experiences, colours and temperatures; whereby the person is pronounced a hypochondriac or simply undiagnosable, with a mystery illness, and therefore treatment is of the type for depression or for chronic pain or for insomnia, and so on. There may be evidence of psychosis or episodes resembling hormonal extremes and anything between for which drugs may be offered, including antibiotics, steroids, antidepressants, statins, aspirin, sleeping tablets, the Pill, Viagra or laxatives.
The advantage of a herbal protocol is that herbal prescriptions can easily be modified - substituting one herb for another, adding a relevant herb for a change in the symptom, reducing or increasing a herb's strength according to need, and so forth. This is why, initially, prescriptions are kept relatively small, to enable regular 'tweaking', fine-tuning, to engender and encourage positive body response. Eventually a plateau may be reached, when progress appears to slow down or even stop. This is a period of biologic readjustment also called biological assertion. It is when the person's body is shifting into a new gear and the gear box is just beginning to reengage. It may take weeks, but it won't take months. It's the time for the patient (and herbal practitioner) to be patient; to continue their programme and keep up their herbal medication.

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Hello Alan, I am really feeling improvements with your tonics and slowly getting my life back, I know journey is long but I am confident!! I have been diagnosed with chronic lyme disease/ neuro-borreliosis and nothing really worked for me before. Thanks. MC

Alan answers: I now have a specific herbal tonic for lyme disease - LymeShield. Click here for more info

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What herbs are used?
Each patient is unique. They will need a unique prescription and one that will change over the weeks and months. But it can be said that the first choice of treatment will be the herbs in InflammationShield Tonic. This includes: 
Cordyceps - rebalances inflammatory cytokines, strongly improves a low immune system as an adaptogenic, it stimulates ATP generation by mitochondria and antioxidant activity, strongly modulatory on immune cells, and highly protective on the cells in the kidney system [tubular epithelial cells], improves learning and reduces memory impairment, improves testosterone and sperm count and motility, for mycoplasma treatment in a tincture or taken as a powder [up to 3Tbsp three times daily for serious infections], (also in the ABCD Powder).
Baikal Skullcap root (more than 780 different compounds have been found in this herb [Baical is also in the ABC Daily Powder]). Baical is antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, nervine, neuroprotective, anodyne, hepetoprotective, antispasmodic, antiangiogenic, antitumour, antimetastic, antibacterial, antifungal. A remarkable plant and very different to the other Skullcaps found in Britain, Europe and America. It is very useful in hepatitis (A, B and C). For mycoplasma coinfection its main use is for lung infections and those that affect the central nervous system (including meningitis, encephalitis, Lyme, etc). But it is very useful for GIT disorders, kidney inflammation, urinary tract and bladder infections, and the prevention of possible cancers. The antimicrobial compounds known as baicalein, wogonin, oroxylin A, caicalin, and at least 24 others are strongly anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antitumour in action. Amazingly, melatonin (originally thought not to be produced in plants) has been found in high levels in the Chinese Baical root (7 mcg/g) thus this herb is also included in Herbactive's SleepMore Tonic to help restore normal sleep (diurnal rhythm), i.e. it improves the function of the pineal gland.
Houttuynia cordata - antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, preventive anticancer action, immunomodulatory, anti-leukaemia; strongly active against Mycoplasma hominis, herpes simplex, flu virus, HIV-1, SARS-related coronavirus, etc. and specifically for kidney and bladder infections and genital infections.
Isatis tinctoria, root and leaf - a potent antiviral plant; also potentiates the effectiveness of viral vaccines, and is an immune stimulant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, antitumour, antimicrobial [mycoplasma spp, SARS coronavirus coxsackie virus, avian flu virus, etc].
Senega root (Polygala tenuifolia) - one of the best herbs for enhancing the secretion of nerve growth factor [NGF] in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous systems - a crucial protein for the growth, maintenance, and survival of the neurons; essential in stimulating axonal regeneration. 
Kudzu Vine root - reduces inflammatory cytokine cascades.
Phellodendron (Cork Tree bark), Berberis vulgaris (Barberry bark) (also Golden Thread and Mahonia plants) - these contain significant quantities of berberine which have been found to be strongly effective against numerous mycoplasmas, especially urogenital mycoplasma infections. Actions: antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiamoebic, antitumour, anti-inflammatory, analgesic.
Olive leaf and oil infusion - a specific for the treatment of mycoplasma; contains significant quantities of alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E; anti-inflammatory, antioxidant; protective of red blood cells against oxidative damage which is crucial for mycoplasma treatment.
Arctostaphylos (Uva Ursi leaf) - this herb contains arbutin up to an incredible 10% in the plant, this is a strong antibacterial against different bacteria in the urinary passages especially mycoplasmas that cause urogenital infections. Preventative action: arbutin is known to stimulate to inhibit the development of bladder cancer cell proliferation and is strongly antioxidative.
Morinda root (Noni) - strongly antimicrobial.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) - this is an important supportive herb in that it provides protection for mitochondrial integrity and function and is also a relaxant for stress and anxiety and sleeplessness; strongly neuroprotective - protects the mitochondria in the brain.
Greater Celandine - primary action is a pain reliever, cough suppressant, antitoxin, and strongly anti-inflammatory; suppresses cytokine cascades; anti-viral; it has over 30 different alkaloids; it is an important herb in the treatment of mycoplasma, especially if there is severe brain and CNS inflammatory involvement.
Immune support: Ashwagandha, Rhodiola and Schizandra are the three chosen herbs for this function as they relate specifically to the treatment of the mycoplasma infestation treatment.
These are the herbs that are central to a prescription for an Inflammation shield and may be supported by other herbs required by the person's personal medical profile and immediate symptomatology. No one herb is enough when treating general inflammatory conditions and undiagnosable diseases (which are now recognisable as mycoplasma etc caused, see above).
Also, it is absolutely without question that every, yes EVERY, patient will by put on the ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder Plus for the long-term. This 50-plus herbal powder mixture has literally tens of thousands of nutrients that will be taken up by the cells of your organs and systems to slowly, and oftentimes not so slowly, regenerate restoration of interactive functions that will fire-up healing and the recharging of health; it acts as the groundswell to the main plant prescription. It acts like a battery charger! 

Supportive tonics
To facilitate this healing of coinfective mycoplasma parasitic trauma other tonics may be necessary to support the main medicine. For instance, SleepMore may be necessary to reinstate a sound sleep or WorryLess for excessive stress and anxiety, or DepressionLess for periods of deep dark hopelessness, HerbShield to help the prevention of cancer and prevention/protection against developing secondaries, and so on.
What is necessary is the willingness to go on the journey of healing with your herbal practitioner. It is bound to be long, hard at times, but ultimately rewarding as light is seen at the end of the tunnel.

Drinking smoothies will also help your condition - find out more about smoothies

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"Dear Alan, I have just read your amazing article on mycoplasma etc. Everything you mention makes so much sense. The ingredients in this tonic are everything that could possibly help with conditions like Lyme. The anti parasitics and anti spirochetal herbs must be so beneficial.
So many people are being affected by our changing world, and the necessary awareness and help is lacking in the medical profession. Your research into this and your remedies have given me hope, as it will numerous others. Thank you for being here for us all ."
Katherine

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Dear Mr Hopking, I read the info you have on your website and it was really interesting, pretty scary what we are all being exposed to as a nation/world, I didn't realise there was so many factors that could cause imflammation in the body. I knew of the obvious ie processed foods, smoking etc and eating acidic food (I was aware that you should eat an alkaline based diet) but didn't realise there were so many other harmful things out there. Thank u for educating me on this!! - you are a wealth of healthy information!!! :))
Kind regards,
Karen

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I did a Kundalini meditation last night and asked for clarity. Today I found your site and burst into tears from relief and gratitude, that my request had been answered.
I read your article on inflammation and totally understand and believe everything you say in it. I'm now taking your herbal medicines. Thank you so much.
Terri

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*MRCHM - Alan Hopking has renounced his membership with the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine in protest against the Government of the Peoples Rupublic of China and the practitioners of herbal medicine in China and elsewhere who still use and allow the use of endangered animals as pharmaceuticals and herbal medicine.

Order InflammationLess - email or ring 0800 0834436 (freephone for UK) or go to our store and prices and order page

Find out about herbal medicine for treatment of this condition

Tonics that may be useful to combine with InflammationShield:
ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder Plus
Lyme Disease
InfectionLess
SleepMore
HerbShield
Essiac/Caisse
SpleenShield
LungShield
TotalDetox
LiverDetox
LymphCleanse
BloodCleanser
DepressionLess
WorryLess
TireLess for ME and FMS and CFS
WormLess for parasites

* with grateful acknowlegements to many sources and esp to SH Buhner

Related Products

InflammationLess Tonic — for systematic inflammatory pain in muscles and joints

 

 


Prescriptions

Our herbal tonic medicines are carefully prepared on a personal and individual basis for your healing by medical herbalist Alan Hopking MA MNIMH FINEH.

Only whole herbs are used in our herbal medicines. Nothing else is added. If you have symptoms which you consider might be helped with herbal medicine please contact herbal practitioner Alan Hopking for a friendly confidential professional consultation. See terms and fees.

Once you have received your herbal prescription you can contact Alan Hopking at any time for more free advice (preferably by email). When you have completed your bottle of herbal medicine and if you want a repeat prescription you are requested to phone or email so that your progress can be assessed and adjustments made if necessary so that there is no break in your treatment. To order or re-order, click here.

MRCHM - see Alan Hopking's statement about renouncing his association with membership of this organisation

HERBACTIVE Centre of Herbal Medicine, England, UK. Freephone 0800 0834436

General advice to consumers on the use of herbal remedies from the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK

• Remember that herbal remedies are medicines. As with any other medicine they are likely to have an effect on the body and should be used with care. • Herbal remedies may sometimes interact with other medicines. This makes it particularly important to tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking a herbal remedy with other medicines such as prescribed medicines (those provided through your doctor or dentist). • Treat with caution any suggestion that a herbal remedy is '100% safe' or is 'safe because it is natural'. Many plants, trees, fungi and algae can be poisonous to humans. It is worth remembering that many pharmaceuticals have been developed or derived from these sources because of the powerful compounds they contain. Any medicine, including herbal remedies, which have an effect on the body should be used with care. • Treat with caution any herbalist or other person who supplies herbal remedies if they are unwilling or unable to provide written information, in English, listing the ingredients of the herbal remedy they are providing. • If you are due to have a surgical operation you should always remember to tell your doctor about any herbal remedy that you are taking. • Anyone who has previously experienced any liver complaint, or any other serious health complaint is advised not to take any herbal remedy without speaking to their doctor first.

PRECAUTIONS:

Pregnant/Breast-feeding mothers

Few conventional medicines have been established as safe to take during pregnancy and it is generally recognised that no medicine should be taken unless the benefit to the mother outweighs any possible risk to the foetus. This rule should also be applied to herbal medicinal products. However, herbal products are often promoted to the public as being “natural” and completely “safe” alternatives to conventional medicines. Some herbal ingredients that specifically should be avoided or used with caution during pregnancy. As with conventional medicines, no herbal products should be taken during pregnancy unless the benefit outweighs the potential risk.

Volatile Oils

Many herbs are traditionally reputed to be abortifacient and for some this reputation can be attributed to their volatile oil component.(6) A number of volatile oils are irritant to the genito-urinary tract if ingested and may induce uterine contractions. Herbs that contain irritant volatile oils include ground ivy, juniper, parsley, pennyroyal, sage, tansy and yarrow. Some of these oils contain the terpenoid constituent, thujone, which is known to be abortifacient. Pennyroyal oil also contains the hepatotoxic terpenoid constituent, pulegone. A case of liver failure in a woman who ingested pennyroyal oil as an abortifacient has been documented.

Uteroactivity

A stimulant or spasmolytic action on uterine muscle has been documented for some herbal ingredients including blue cohosh, burdock, fenugreek, golden seal, hawthorn, jamaica dogwood, motherwort, nettle, raspberry, and vervain. Herbal Teas Increased awareness of the harmful effects associated with excessive tea and coffee consumption has prompted many individuals to switch to herbal teas. Whilst some herbal teas may offer pleasant alternatives to tea and coffee, some contain pharmacologically active herbal ingredients, which may have unpredictable effects depending on the quantity of tea consumed and strength of the brew. Some herbal teas contain laxative herbal ingredients such as senna, frangula, and cascara. In general stimulant laxative preparations are not recommended during pregnancy and the use of unstandardised laxative preparations is particularly unsuitable. A case of hepatotoxicity in a newborn baby has been documented in which the mother consumed a herbal tea during pregnancy as an expectorant. Following analysis the herbal tea was reported to contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are known to be hepatotoxic.

Breast-feeding mothers

A drug substance taken by a breast-feeding mother presents a hazard if it is transferred to the breast milk in pharmacologically or toxicologically significant amounts. Limited information is available regarding the safety of conventional medicines taken during breast-feeding. Much less information exists for herbal ingredients, and generally the use of herbal remedies is not recommended during lactation.

Paediatric Use

Herbal remedies have traditionally been used to treat both adults and children. Herbal remedies may offer a milder alternative to some conventional medicines, although the suitability of a herbal remedy needs to be considered with respect to quality, safety and efficacy. Herbal remedies should be used with caution in children and medical advice should be sought if in doubt. Chamomile is a popular remedy used to treat teething pains in babies. However, chamomile is known to contain allergenic sesquiterpene lactones and should therefore be used with caution. The administration of herbal teas to children needs to be considered carefully and professional advice may be needed.

Perioperative use

The need for patients to discontinue herbal medicinal products prior to surgery has recently been proposed. The authors considered eight commonly used herbal medicinal products (echinacea, ephedra, garlic, ginkgo, ginseng, kava, St John’s Wort, valerian). On the evidence available they concluded that the potential existed for direct pharmacological effects, pharmacodynamic interactions and pharmacokinetic interactions. The need for physicians to have a clear understanding of the herbal medicinal products being used by patients and to take a detailed history was highlighted. The American Society of Anaesthesiologists (ASA) has advised patients to tell their doctor if they are taking herbal products before surgery and has reported that a number of anaesthesiologists have reported significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure in some patients who have been taking herbal medicinal products including St John’s Wort, ginkgo and ginseng. MCA is currently investigating a serious adverse reaction associated with the use of ginkgo prior to surgery. In this case, the patient who was undergoing hip replacement experienced uncontrolled bleeding thought to be related to the use of ginkgo.

From the website of the Medicines Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (www.mhra.gov.uk) Department of Health, UK

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