Medicine Woman

  (Waynesville, North Carolina)
dangerous herbs, medicinal herbs, culinary herbs
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HERBS THAT ARE JUST NOT SAFE TO USE AS MEDICINE

THIS IS PART ONE   of  HERBS THAT JUST ARE NOT SAFE TO USE

 

At present, herbal products can be sold without requiring studies on their safety or effectiveness.  It is up to the individual to decide for themselves whether certain herbs are safe to take.  So, that is what this blog is about.

Many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but, be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.   Many herbalists even now, are also using herbs as medicine   based on tradition or folk medicine. Depending on the culture and region, people for years and years used certain herbs for certain conditions. Many of these work, but, many more were not effective at all and so called herbalist would use these herbal treatments because that’s what was being used at that time.

 Some of these conditions are potentially serious.  I think that it is finally time for those who want to be known as herbalists to start doing some serious research into each and every herb that they want to use in their formulas and sell to the public, whether it be teas, tinctures, salves, or whatever.   The findings of people such as Culpepper, Gerard and a host of others were made hundreds of years ago.  Since people did not  live all that long back then, how does anyone know for sure if the herbs worked or, helped kill these people?  You don’t.   Writers of herb findings back then were not going to incriminate themselves by admitting that certain herbs just might kill a person rather than make them well.  Maybe that is where the saying “ it will either kill you or cure you” comes from?  

 

 

I have compiled a list with some herbs that a person might think twice about using. Some herbs will cause a person to just get sick, or end up in a situation worse than they originally began with, while others will cause death.   My research is based on many modern day findings that are listed at the end of this blog, as well as just plain common sense.  We have to remember that things change as time goes on.  Nothing stands still and, it is the same with herbs. Also, keep in mind that “high doses” can mean as little as a teaspoonful or a cupful.  It does not mean that a person would have to drink a gallon of the stuff.  It also can mean over a period of time.

 

 

 

 

AMERICAN SKULLCAP (Scutellarialateriflora)

Herbalist use this herb  for tension, anxiety, insomnia, panic, headaches, fatigue, depression, melancholy, convulsions, jerking muscles, epilepsy, heart trembles, depression, arthritis, fever, snake bites, and rabies. Skullcap is used for PMS when used with chaste tree or false unicorn root

 

High doses can cause giddiness, stupor, mental confusion, twitching, irregular heartbeat, and seizures. There is also the problem of  American skullcap being contaminated with germander, which can cause liver damage.

 

 

ANGELICA  A. acutiloa, A. archangelica, A. atropurpurea, A. dahurica, A. edulis, A. gigas, A. keiskei, A. koreanna, A. polymorpha, A. pubescens, A. radix, and A. sinensis  

 

People use angelica for  anemia, anti gas treatment,  asthma, backache, diuretic,  diaphoretic,  eczema, gynecologic disorders, hay fever, headache, menstrual discomfort, osteoporosis, menopausal symptoms.

Those who consume the purplish stems of angelica that are collected and crystallized with sugar to make a pleasant tasting confection should be aware that the plant contains a number of furocoumarins, e.g., angelicin, bergapten, immperatorin, and xanthotoxin.

Some authorities believe that angelica may cause cancer.  Angelica can cause bleeding or bruising after use.  Severe poisoning has resulted from large doses of the root administered in an attempt to induce abortions.

 

 

ARNICA  of the family Asteraceae (all varieties)  People have employed the entire plant,  including the roots, often using this herb internally.  Arnica is used for reducing inflammation, bruising, aches, and rheumatic pain.  It is used in teas, tinctures and salves.  Studies have shown that when arnica tincture is taken internally that it exhibit a toxic action on the heart and caused very large increases in blood pressure. Repeated use on the skin  can cause severe inflammation, itching, blisters, skin ulcers, and other allergy-related skin problems.

 

 

 

BROOM   Cytisus scoparius, syn, Saritganbys scioaruys

Used as a diuretic, produce vomiting, sweating.  For poor circulation or heart conditions, especially low blood pressure and  to induce relaxation and euphoria.

 

Using BROOM can cause headache, irregular heartbeat, mind altering sensation from smoking the plant parts. Poisoning symptoms: shock, a fast pulse, confusion or other mental changes, vertigo, nausea, and diarrhea, uterine contractions, fungal pneumonia (from smoking contaminated broom tops) and miscarriage.

BROOM does not interact well with drugs, particularly beta blockers, such as Inderal or other drugs that are used to treat heart conditions;  Do not use BROOM if you are on tricyclic antidepressants, such as Sinequan.

 

 

CAT'S CLAW (Uncariatomentosa or Uncariaguianensis) Two species of cat's claw:  Uncariatomentosa and Uncariaguianensis,.Uncariatomentosa is most commonly used in the U.S., and Uncariaguianensis is typically used in Europe

Touted as a cure-all for HIV, AIDS,  cancer, whatever else,. Cat’s claw is most commonly used for improving symptoms of  both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, diverticulitis, colitis , gastritis. leaky bowel syndrome, shingles, chronic fatigue syndrome, wound healing, parasites, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma, hay fever, cancer (especially urinary tract cancer), a particular type of brain cancer called glioblastoma, gonorrhea, dysentery, birth control, bone pains, and "cleansing" the kidneys.  MY, my, what a busy herb this is!

 

CAT’S CLAW  can, however, cause headache, dizziness, and vomiting in some people. If you have Leukemia, Cat's claw might worsen this condition.

For   Auto-immune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), or other similar conditions, Cat’s claw might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. There is a concern that cat’s claw might make blood pressure control difficult during surgery.

Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) substrates) interacts with CAT'S CLAW   Taking CAT'S CLAW along with some medications that are broken down by the liver can increase the effects and side effects of some medications.

 

 

GENTIAN  Gentiana lutea L. ; Gentiana acaulis L. 

a/k/a bitter root, feltwort, gall weed, pale gentian, stem less gentian and yellow gentian.

Gentian is used for  heartburn, intestinal gas, irritable bowel syndrome, malaria, sharp intestinal pains, to help curb smoking and to stimulate the appetite. Also used as a bitter digestive tonic, and as an  antidote  to poisons.

 

SIDE EFFECTS: headache, nausea and vomiting. Gentian may increase anti inflammatory properties.

 

 

GREATER CELANDINE (Chelidoniummajus)  Another cure all herb. Used internally for sedation, gallstone prevention, intestinal and digestive problems, liver disease, and eye irritation.  Topically it is used for ringworm, warts, and corns. Also, "liver diseases, for inflammation of the gallbladder, inflammation of the biliary duct, loss of appetite, jaundice, hepatitis, dropsy, gout, arthritis, rheumatism, fevers, spasmodic coughs, bronchitis, asthma, intestinal polyps, breast lumps, angina, cramps, arteriosclerosis, gout, water retention, skin eruptions, scurvy, ulcers, cancers (specifically skin and stomach). The tincture has been used for liver problems, facial, head, and shoulder neuralgia, constipation.  

SIDE EFFECTS:  It can cause serious liver problems such as hepatitis, and blockage of the bile duct (bile duct obstruction). Some GREATER CELANDINE extracts appear to increase the flow of bile. There is a concern that this might make bile duct obstruction worse.

 

 

CHAPARRAL (Larreadivaricatacoville)     I was called a moron by someone who read an earlier blog of mine not long ago, stating that she used chaparral for cancer and it cured her cancer.  However, let me quote from Rational WIKI “Chaparral is used for lots of things, including cancer.    Chaparral is not effective for cancer and not known to be effective for anything else, either.”   And from WEBMD   “Chaparral is a plant. The leaf is used to make medicine, but there are serious safety concerns. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have advised consumers against using products containing chaparral due to safety concerns. Despite warnings, chaparral is still available in the U.S. Also included here are comments made by Varro E. Tyler well known author of The Honest Herbal.

Chaparral is used for digestion problems, cramps, respiratory tract conditions including colds and infections; and ongoing chronic skin disorders. It is also used for cancer, arthritis, tuberculosis, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, central nervous system conditions, chickenpox, parasite infections, obesity, and snakebite pain. Some people use chaparral for detoxification, or as a tonic or “blood purifier.” Chaparral is said to possess analgesic, expectorant, emetic, diuretic, and anti inflammatory properties.  Oh yes, and as a hair tonic.

Another busy herb!

 

Chaparral WAS , around 1968, considered  to be potentially useful in the treatment of cancer. HOWEVER, in 1990’s, cases of liver disease started to crop up and Chaparral was then considered to be dangerous for humans to use.  Some people out there, including well known herbalists, need to keep abreast of changes regarding the overall safety of herbs.  We are not living in the 1600’s anymore!

 

CHAPARRAL IS UNSAFE. There are several reports of serious poisoning, acute hepatitis, and kidney and liver damage, including kidney and liver failure.

 

According to WEBMD:  “Chaparral can cause side effects including stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, weight loss, fever, and liver and kidney damage. Putting chaparral on the skin can cause skin reactions including rash and itching. “AND, Rational WIKI “it's actually very dangerous.   It can cause fatal liver damage and kidney failure. Other side effects may include fatigue,  itching, rash, and allergic reactions. Despite the title of that old cowboy serial, Chaparral cannot get you high.”  And, from the American Cancer website: “ Chaparral is considered a dangerous herb that can cause irreversible, life-threatening liver damage and kidney damage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cautioned against the internal use of chaparral. Research has not found it to be an effective treatment for cancer or any other disease.

A clinical study of nordihydroguaiaretic acid (NDGA), one of the chemicals in chaparral, concluded that it was not useful in treating people with cancer,”

 

 

 

 

Coltsfoot (Tussilagofarfara) Used as an expectorant and for coughs. Coltsfoot cigarettes are used for asthma.   Despite serious safety concerns, people take coltsfoot for lung problems such as bronchitis, asthma, and whooping cough (pertussis). They also take it for upper respiratory tract complaints including sore mouth and throat, cough, and hoarseness. Coltsfoot seems to be the principle ingredient in herbal smoking formulas. 

According to WEBMD   Coltsfoot is considered UNSAFE. It contains chemicals called hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) that can damage the liver (or make liver disease worse), or cause cancer, birth defects, and .  taken in large amounts might interfere with treatment for high blood

 

Many well-known herbalists praise coltsfoot for its flavor as it is supposed to be very palatable for cough drops, syrups and teas.  

 

PART TWO TO FOLLOW 

 

 De Milto, Lori; Frey, Rebecca."Foxglove."Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. (December 27, 2013). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3435100319.html

 

www.cancer.org.

webmd.com

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/List_of_medicinal_plants

The Honest Herbal   by Varro  E.  Tyler

http://www.encyclopedia.com/

The Complete Guide to HERBAL MEDICINES  BY Charles W. Fetrow and Juan R. Avila

Know Your Poisonous Plants  by Wilma Roberts James

An Illustrated Guide to 101 Medicinal Herbs  by Steven Foster 

http://nadiasyard.com/our-native-plants/american-pokeweed

 
 
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