Colds AntiVirals and Herbal AntiBiotics

Herbs for Colds & Viral Diseases
& Antibiotic Herbs

1. Colds and Flu Virus Treatment (ColdLess AntiViral Tonic)
Swine flu, bird flu and all cold and flu viruses (including Coronavirus Covid-19*) NOW EVEN STRONGER!

*Covid-19 is a new coronavirus for which there is no cure. These specific herbal antivirals will help the immune system defend the body's organs. 

From the herbal view of this pandemic let me give you a quick summary of what I recommend to help you keep well:

1. Take ColdLess Antiviral Tonic 

2. Take ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder Plus 

3. Use our food grade 3% Hydrogen Peroxide in distilled water spray. Breathe it in. Spray your vegetables, clothes, door handles, dog, etc if you have been outdoors or shopping, etc. (Listen to Dr Mercola talk about this on YouTube). Hydrogen Peroxide kills pathogens immediately. It is completely safe and cheap to buy. Buy it at our webstore. Read more on our Hydrogen Peroxide web page. 

4. Take LungShield COPD Tonic if you have respiratory weakness. 

5. Other tonics to consider: HerbShield, BronchiShield, WormLess, MouthShield, CatarrhLess, Nasal Congestion Drops 


I had another sore throat/unwell episode start recently (started a new job, different environmental bugs to contend with!), but hit it with several doses of the remedy and once again it was gone by the following day. Thanks so much again for your herbal wisdom in these difficult times. Chris. April 20 2020.


[For antibiotic herbal information see end of this page]

ColdLess AntiViral Tonic 

Some science (many of the herbs mentioned below are in the Tonic)

The Covid-19, or else known as 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2 virus, belongs to the family of Coronavirus.  As SARS-CoV-2 belongs to the β genus Coronavirus it is closely related to MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV – which have also been reported to cause severe symptoms of pneumonia in previous pandemics.  The genetic structure of 2019-nCoV has been characterised and published.[i] [ii]  The main proteins in this virus and those previously identified in SARS-CoV or MERS-CoV exhibit a high similarity between them.
The novelty of this strain of virus means that there are so many uncertainties surrounding its behaviour, therefore it is too early to determine whether herbal plants or compounds could in fact contribute to society as prophylactic agents or as suitable substances in anti-coronavirus drugs against Covid-19. However, due to Covid-19’s high similarity with the previously reported SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV viruses, previous published research on herbal compounds, which have been proven to exert anti-coronavirus effects, may be a valuable guide to finding anti-coronavirus herbal plants, which may be active against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
After the breakout of SARS-CoV, first reported in early 2003[iii], scientists have been vigorously trying to exploit several antiviral compounds against SARS-CoV. This had led a group of experts in China to screen more than 200 Chinese medicinal herb extracts for antiviral activities against this coronavirus strain.
Amongst these, four extracts exhibited moderate to potent inhibition effects against SARS-CoV – Lycoris radiata (Licorice), Pyrrosia lingua (a fern), Artemisia annua (Sweet wormwood) and Lindera aggregate (an aromatic evergreen shrub member of the laurel family).
The antiviral effects of these were dose dependant and ranged from low concentrations of the extract to high, varying for each herbal extract. In particular Lycoris radiata exhibited the most potent anti-viral activity against the virus strain.[iv]
This result was consistent with that of two other research groups, which suggested that an active constituent contained in Licorice roots, Glycyrrhizin, has been proven to have an anti-SARS-CoV activity by inhibiting its replication.[v] [vi]  In another study, Glycyrrhizin also exhibited antiviral activity when tested for its in vitro antiviral effects on 10 different clinical isolates of SARS coronavirus. Baicalin – a constituent of the plant Scuttelaria baicalensis (Skullcap) – has also been tested in this study under the same conditions and has also shown antiviral action against the SARS coronavirus.[vii] Baicalin has also been shown to inhibit the replication of the HIV-1 virus in vitro in previous studies.[viii] [ix] However it should be noted that in vitro findings may not correlate with in vivo clinical efficacy. This is because the oral dose of these agents in humans may not achieve a blood serum concentration similar to that tested in vitro.
Lycorine, another constituent of Licorice, has also demonstrated potent antiviral action against SARS-CoV.3 Several previous reports suggest that Lycorine seems to have broad antiviral activities and has been reported to have demonstrated an inhibitory action on the Herpes Simplex virus (type I)[x] and the Poliomyelitis virus also.[xi]
“Other herbs which have been reported to have shown antiviral activity against SARS-CoV are Lonicera japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle) and the commonly-known Eucalyptus plant, and Panax ginseng (a root) through its active component Ginsenoside-Rb1.”[xii]
Evidence from the above-mentioned studies and several other worldwide studies report that many medicinal herbal constituents have exhibited antiviral activities against coronaviruses[xiii] [xiv] and their main mechanism of action seems to be through the inhibition of viral replication.[xv] China has extensively used traditional Chinese medicinal herbs for the treatment of SARS effectively in many cases.[xvi] However there is no substantial evidence yet on the clinical effectiveness of these for Covid-19 infected patients.


"Dear Mr Hopking, I used your antiviral remedy for labyrinthitis i was told I had because of a bout of dizzyness, nausea, pain in the ear. Within a week it had gone. I took none of the tablets prescribed to me by my GP. It is an excellent medicine, thank you."
A.van S. - Portsmouth


Hi Alan, you advised me to take your cold medicine on a low dose through the winter, and even though there has been all this flu and bad weather, and so mcuh coughing and sneezing around me at work, I haven't gone down with a virus. Thank you. JR - Isle of Wight


Alan, your ColdLess Tonic is number one and second to none! I started to get an occasional cough on Saturday and thought nothing of it. By Monday it was full blown. I had a deep growling bronchial cough and a streaming nose. I started taking your ColdLess and continued at work, cancelling all meetings. I went to bed early and had ColdLess 2-3 times when I woke up coughing. Tuesday, the cold got even worse. I continued work and the tonic. I was in bed at 7, and through the night I took ColdLess, perhaps every hour or so. At 6 in the morning, it was like a new dawn! I absolutely knew the virus had been beaten. I was better. The cough had gone. I was strong again.
Normally, these sorts of colds for me would go on for weeks. There's no doubt in my mind that your amazing ColdLess Tonic turned things around so quickly. My family were frightened at the ferocity at first, and astonished at the sudden cure. And cure it was.
Thanks Alan for this powerful herbal cold CURE!
Anthony Milton. UK


Colds, Flu and H1N1 and Coronavirus Covid-19
We at Herbactive Herbal Clinic offer a general preventative herbal medicine to help improve your immune system and fight flu viruses including H1N1, and Covid-19.


COVID-19 Treatment: "This remedy is amazing. A few days after receiving it I started to get a sore throat and some other rather suspicious symptoms. As a key worker on low pay in a food distribution company, I can't afford to get sick at this time - most of the customers are elderly and vulnerable and reliant on their deliveries. I took myself off to bed, took regular doses of the remedy that evening and the following morning, had a mini-fast for 24 hours and drank loads of water and herbal teas. Within 24 hours all symptoms were gone! I'm keeping on with it while the the current crisis rages and am sure it will see me through. You really are a genius, aren't you?! Best wishes, Christine. UK


There are herbs that are for infections by various forms cold virus. The common cold is a cold-virus invasion of our upper respiratory mucous membranes. These viruses breed there and cause the characteristic symptoms, notably the production of thick catarrh, green or yellow and sometimes a clear colour. Other symptoms commonly associated with a viral infection are high temperature, depressed energy, thick head, poor concentration.

We don't actually 'catch' colds (but see below)! We get colds because our system is not up to scratch: we are not looking after ourselves as we should; stress, anxiety, worry and poor diet are the cause that makes our immune response overwhealmed by the cold virus or other viruses. People who never get colds have a built-in resistance, ie a strong army of defenses; an immune system that is effective and nurtured. How do you nurture your immune system? In a nutshell: Good Food, Regular Exercise, Right Relationships, Sound Sleep. The ABC Daily Powder goes a long way to nourish and protect us too.

Antiviral herbs are best combined for powerful protection. One herb in a capsule, e.g. echinacea alone, is inadequate. Herbactive Clinic has many reputed anti-viral herbs for the promotion and protection of health. Herbs that include: Boneset, Andrographis, Cinchona (malaria bark), Black Elder berry, Star Anise, Echinacea, Olive leaf, Kudzu, Red Sage root, Astragalus, Shiitake, Cats Claw bark, Xanthium, Thyme and, of course, Garlic. Emain for the full list of antiviral herbs in our ColdLess Antiviral Tonic. I claim that these are the very best medicinal herbs that are active against viruses.

AntiViral Lotion Spray
Order our unique AntiViral Spray containing over 60% organic grain ethanol, organic Aloe Vera Gel, Wheatgerm Oil and Tea Tree Oil and Lavender Oil, to spray on your hands, on the shopping basket or trolley handle, on your steering wheel, external door knob, your door postbox, and anywhere you know someone else may have touched. It's an extra precaution against viruses, bacteria and all microbes. For external use only. Carry it in your pocket or handbag.
120ml Price £19.95 One size only.

For copious thin catarrh symptoms see Catarrh

For Bronchial-type cough and chestiness take BronchiShield

For respiratory problems, breathing issues, asthma, shortness of breath, COPD, emphasema take LungShield-COPD Tonic


The size of a virus
Virus particles (virions) are 100 times smaller than a single bacteria cell. The bacterial cell alone is more than 10 times smaller than a human cell and a human cell is 10 times smaller than the diameter of a single human hair. Viruses are the smallest of all the microbes. They are said to be so small that 500 million rhinoviruses (which cause the common cold) could fit onto the head of a pin. They are unique because they only come alive and are able to multiply inside the cells of other living things. The cell they multiply in is called the host cell.
Viruses by themselves are not alive. They cannot grow or multiply on their own and need to enter a human or animal cell and take over the cell to help them multiply. Viruses do not have the chemical machinery needed to survive on their own. These viruses may also infect bacterial cells. They therefore seek out host cells in which they can multiply. They have a key that fits certain cells (e.g. a cold virus has a key to fit nasorespiratory cells). These viruses enter the body from the environment or other individuals from soil to water to air via nose, mouth, or any breaks in the skin and seek a cell to infect. Once inside, they take over the cell and replicate themselves very quickly, each of these replicates do the same with neighbouring cells. And so the infection spreads.

The anatomy of a virus
A virion (virus particle) has three main parts:
1. Nucleic acid – this is the core of the virus with the DNA or RNA (deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid respectively). The DNA or RNA holds all the information for the virus and that makes it unique and helps it multiply.
2. Protein Coat (capsid) – This is the covering over the nucleic acid that protects it.
3. Lipid membrane (envelope) – this covers the capsid. Many viruses do not have this envelope and are called naked viruses.

The cuckoo of the cellular world
The virus particle or the virion attacks the cell and takes over its machinery to carry out their own life processes of multiplication and growth. An infected cell will now only produce viral particles instead of its usual products.
A cold or flu virus for example will target cells that line the respiratory (i.e. the lungs) or digestive (i.e. the stomach) systems. The HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) that causes AIDS attacks the T-cells (a type of white blood cell that fights infection and disease) of the immune system.

Life cycle of a basic virus
There are a few basic steps that all infecting viruses follow and these are called the lytic cycle. These include:
1. A virus particle attaches to a host cell. This is called the process of adsorption.
2. The particle injects its DNA or RNA into the host cell called entry.
3. The invading DNA or RNA takes over the cell and recruits the host’s enzymes.
4. The cellular enzymes start making new virus particles called replication.
5. The particles of the virus created by the cell come together to form new viruses. This is called assembly.
6. The newly formed viruses kill the cell so that they may break free and search for a new host cell. This is called release.

Each cell killed by the virus released thousands more
So, from one infected cell in my throat thousands of copies were released. This continued from Friday. Already I was coughing. This is not something a healthy body does. Something was wrong. My defences were already trying to protect the area. Coughing up phlegm is the removal of toxic waste produced by the defences against these alien bodies or parasites, also the cellular shells discarded by the virus. This continued through Saturday.
From the first signs, start taking herbal medicines. Antivirals. Hot lemon and ginger drinks. Don’t take any chances. Because on Sunday red alert was triggered. The whole body was now under threat. Red alert meant a huge increase to body temperature and a full attack began. Wave after wave; shivering, headaches, coughing … you feel like you’re on a torture rack! Viruses can't exist in high heat. Nor can we as hosts, hence we become weak, lethargic and feel lousy…and sweat to cool ourselves down. We lie in bed shivering yet with a temperature over 103°F (98.6 is the norm). This action of our immune system defences has evolved over millions of years, before we became conscious humans.

Why do we cough?
Coughing, for all its inconvenience and embarrassment in company, has a twofold function.
- One, it is a response mechanism by the body to clear a clogging airway. The throat is at a Y junction, from the mouth food passes the throat down to the stomach, but when we breathe air passes the throat to the lungs. The infected throat is defended and the offending viruses are contained in phlegm (often coloured yellow). This is coughed up and swallowed where it splashes into neat hydrochloric acid and destroyed.
- The second function of coughing is more macabre. It is initiated by the viruses to spread to another host. Coughing in a shop or pub or bus or classroom may give the virus a chance of being breathed in by someone. So, putting your hand over your mouth or coughing into a handkerchief is a good preventive social custom. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry under an airstream if possible. Wash your hands like this as often as possible and especially if you have been on a bus, in a public toilet, in a supermarket, at a school or hospital, etc.
"Die off is huge as my defences respond to the emergency. You can taste it in your throat, a kind of metallic taste."  Margo G.
Gargle with MouthShield. Take high doses of ColdLess AntiViral Tonic eg 10-20ml 2-4 times daily if you suspect you have inhaled a virus.

My throat is also dry
The increased metabolism which has raised the temperature of the body making it hard for a virus to survive, also causes sweating which controls the temperature, cooling the body, resulting in loss of hydration. This is noticed by a dry mouth.

A good few days later
Gradually, a few days later, you start to feel better. The worst is over. Your appetite returns. But you are still coughing (this can continue for another week as dead cells and viruses are removed in phlegm). You are weak for days, as all your energy and resources have gone into this survival strategy. But gradually you gain strength. The shivering and headaches reduce in intensity from the 3rd or 4th day, and by the 8th day you almost feel normal again (still a bit weak though probably).



Antiviral Herbs for Labyrinthitis
You can use a combination of these antiviral herbs mentioned above for all viral infections, including Labyrinthitis, an infection in the inner ear.
The inner ear consists of a fluid filled cavity that is responsible for hearing and balance. This region is known as the labyrinth and an infection that occurs here is known as labyrinthitis. The labyrinth consists of the cochlear canal, which is responsible for hearing and the semicircular and vestibule canals which are responsible for balance. Labyrinthitis usually results due to a viral infection, although bacteria can also be the cause in some cases. Viral infections of the labyrinth may occur during illnesses such as flu, mumps or measles. If an infection of the middle ear or otitis media is not properly treated, then a bacterial infection could develop in the labyrinth. This could happen especially if infected debris has developed in the middle ear and has spread to the inner ear. The bloodstream may also carry the infection to the inner ear from other areas of the body. In rare cases, head injuries can cause infection of the labyrinth. Herbactive has a specific herbal medicine for vertigo, labyrinthitis, and general dizziness. see prices


I have a wet or dripping nose most of the time, how can I stop it?
This is due to a number of possible causes. It could be chronic rhinitis, allergic rhinitis, or due to polyps or something more serious.You will get a better idea what it is that you have if you go to see your GP or your ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist. But if you want to give herbs a trial for a month I recommend our nasal drops for chronic and allergic rhinitis. These drops are specific nasal astringent herbs to help shut down the flow of clear liquid causing your nose to drip most of the day. This nasal fluid is slightly acidic which can cause your nostrils to redden and appear inflamed when in constant contact with the skin of your nostrils. Order the Nasal Drops for Chronic and Allergic Rhinitis, see our store to order or send an email to
If you have nasal polyps you need to order our Nasal Polyps Drops, see our store to order.


Swine flu and bird flu
Swine flu and bird flu haven't gone away! I recommend that you take these antiviral herbs on a daily basis if your system is low or you are frequently exposed to viruses (schools, hospitals, department stores, supermarkets, etc). Following a consultation a tonic will be made for you that has a multi-herbal prescription of specific medicinal herbs to fight viral infections and boost the immune system. Give it to your children as well.
Dose: just 1tsp daily long term, unless you get any flu-like symptoms, then increase the dose to 4tsp daily.
300ml will last 2 months; 555ml will last nearly 16 weeks at the lowest dose.
I also recommend the ABC Daily Herbal NutriPowder for complete nutritional back-up to your system. And MouthShield MouthWash.

Each Tonic is a mixture of organic whole medicinal herbal tinctures. Please note that every patient is different with differing demands and responses to herbal medicine.

Order at our online store


The following has been adapted from the NHS government website. There are links below that will take you to the NHS website if you want more information.

What is Swine Flu and how serious is it?

Latest Info (Sept 18 2009):
Official estimated UK deaths from Swine Flu this winter 19,000.
Official estimated numbers requiring intensive care 65,000 this winter.
The UK vaccine: this has been tested and I recommend you and your children have it if you are offered it.

A new strain of Influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, was confirmed in the UK in April and has spread to more than 100 countries around the world.
Although symptoms have generally proved mild, a small number of patients will develop more serious illness.  Many of these people have other underlying health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, that put them at increased risk.


Check your symptoms (on NHS website)
Follow the link below or call 0800 1 513 513


Flu symptoms can include:

  • fever
    weakness and fatigue
    aching muscles and joints
    sore throat
    runny nose

As with any sort of influenza, how bad and how long the symptoms last will depend on treatment and the patient’s individual circumstances.
Most cases reported in the UK have been relatively mild, with those affected starting to recover within a week.

Who is at risk of Swine Flu?

Some groups of people are more at risk of serious illness if they catch swine flu. It is vital that people in these higher risk groups get anti-viral drugs and start taking them as soon as possible – within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Health authorities are still learning about the swine flu virus, but the following people are known to be at higher risk:

  • pregnant women
    people aged 65 years and older
    young children under five years old

People suffering from the following illnesses are also at increased risk:

  • chronic lung disease
    chronic heart disease
    chronic kidney disease
    chronic liver disease
    chronic neurological disease
    Immunosuppression (whether caused by disease or treatment)
    Diabetes mellitus
    patients who have had drug treatment for asthma within the past three years

What is an epidemic and a pandemic?

An epidemic is a sudden outbreak of disease that spreads through a single population or region in a short amount of time.
A pandemic occurs when there is a rapidly-spreading epidemic of a disease that affects most countries and regions of the world.
Swine flu is now a pandemic. Pandemic flu occurs when an influenza virus emerges that is so different from previously circulating strains that few, if any, people have any immunity to it. This allows it to spread widely and rapidly, causing serious illness.

Ordinary flu and pandemic flu - the differences

Ordinary flu:

  • occurs every year during the winter
    affects 10 to 15 per cent of the UK popuation
    most people recover within 1 or 2 weeks without medical treatment
    can be identified in advance and a vaccine can be made (this immunisation is known as the flu jab and helps protect people from ordinary flu)

Pandemic flu:

  • occurs during any season
    affects more people than ordinary flu (up to half the population)
    i s a more serious infection
    people of all ages may be at risk of infection
    a vaccine cannot be made because the virus strain has not been identified
    antiviral medicine is stockpiled to treat people

How the flu virus spreads


Always carry clean tissues with you.
When sneezing, sneeze into a tissue. Bin the tissue immediately (don’t pocket it). There's a simple way to remember this:


To reduce the risk of catching or spreading the virus you should:

  • cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, using a tissue
    throw the tissue away quickly and carefully
    wash your hands regularly with soap and water
    clean hard surfaces (like door handles and remote controls) frequently with a normal cleaning product


the global pandemic has been avoided - but remain on guard:

  • always carry tissues - catching the germs in a tissue could help limit the spread of the virus
    know your NHS number (this will be in NHS letters or prescriptions)
    keep up to date with the latest help and advice available through radio, TV and the internet
    confirm your ‘flu friends’ - these are friends and neighbours who can help you if you become ill; they could get your medication or food for you so that you don’t have to leave the house - this will help stop the virus from spreading
    have a two-week stock of food and other supplies in case you and your family are ill

Face masks

Although face masks were given out in Mexico, there is no actual evidence that proves wearing a face mask will stop you getting the virus. It’s more effective to use tissues when sneezing and coughing and wash your hands regularly.

End of UK Government (NHS) information


2. Herbal Antibiotics

Antibiotic Drugs
Herbal antibiotics (antibactierals) act very differently to antibiotic drugs. Antibiotic drugs are designed to kill alien bacteria, but they also kill healthy cells and badly affect general immunity. This makes people who take antibiotic drugs more vulnerable to other illnesses. Antibiotics, also called antibacterials, are a type of antimicrobial drug used in the treatment and prevention of bacterial infections. They may either kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria. A limited number of antibiotics also possess antiprotozoal activity. Antibiotics are not effective against viruses such as the common cold or influenza; drugs which inhibit viruses are termed antiviral drugs or antivirals rather than antibiotics. Herbactive has a tonic antiviral called ColdLess AntiViral Tonic, see above for more info.
Antibiotics revolutionized medicine in the 20th century. Together with vaccination, antibiotics have led to the near eradication of diseases such as tuberculosis in the developed world. However, their effectiveness and easy access have also led to their overuse, prompting bacteria to develop resistance. This has led to widespread problems, so much as to prompt the World Health Organization to classify antimicrobial resistance as a "serious threat [that] is no longer a prediction for the future, it is happening right now in every region of the world and has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country". Herbs are the answer. The tide is turning.

Herbal Antibiotics
Herbal antibiotics on the other hand work to fight the invading organism and to strengthen the body's immune system to clear the effects of the bacterial damage and toxic influence in the organs and tissues. It is normally understood that anti-biotics comes from anti-bios "anti-life" and hence arose the term pro-biotics "for life". But of course Herbactive is not against life, heaven forbid! The herbs in the Antibiotic Tonic is pro-life, working to improve life function, life defences and restore health

Antibiotic Tonic
Herbactive's unique Antibiotic Tonic contains herbs that are known to kill alien bacteria [including mycoplasmas, bartenellas, fungae, candida overload] to enhance the immune system and restore normal health without any side-effects. email info(at) for information about this tonic and the herb list it contains.

Buy Antibiotic Herbal Tonic



Email - Contact Alan Hopking Herbalist about herbal medicine for treatment of this condition

Related health issues to consider:

ColdLess AntiViral Tonic - Now even stronger!
AntiViral and AntiMicrobal Spray - take around with you when you go out shopping
Daily Protection
Worry and stress
Immune system strengthening
Lung problems
Bronchial problems

Order at our online store


Related Products

Herbal tonics

Colds/AntiViral Tonic - ColdLess AntiViral Tonic - now even STRONGER — the strongest antiviral herbs for colds and all viral attacks




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 ( 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.


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.


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 ( Department of Health, UK


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