We want everyone to be safe, happy, and of course healthy. This list is to educate you, not scare you. If you find that you use one of these herbs on a regular basis, ask your herbalist to help you find a plant remedy that is more suitable for your needs. If you are the DIY’er, check my list of recommended reading after the list.
Aconite: Heart palpitations and arrhythmias, hypotension, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, respiratory system paralysis, death.
Aloe Vera: abdominal pain, diarrhea, potentially carcinogenic, with others can potentiate cardiac glycosides and antiarrhythmic agents
Areca Nut (Betel Nut): deterioration of psychosis in patients with preexisting psychiatric disorders”; known carcinogen contributing to cancer of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus and stomach when chewed.
Bitter Orange: ‘Fainting, arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke, death.
Broom: Uterotonic properties, nausea vomiting, and diarrhea, contraindicated for pregnancy and breast feeding
Buckthorn Bark and Berry: abdominal pain, diarrhea, potentially carcinogenic, with others can potentiate cardiac glycosides and antiarrhythmic agents
Cascara Sagrada Bark: “abdominal pain, diarrhea, potentially carcinogenic, with others can potentiate cardiac glycosides and antiarrhythmic agents
Chaparral: Liver damage, kidney problems, Hypotension in cancer patients
Coltsfoot: Liver damage, cancer
Comfrey: Liver damage and cancer
Country Mallow: Heart attack, heart arrhythmia, stroke, death
Dan Shen: Potentiates warfarin activity, leading to excessive anticoagulation and bleeding
Dong Quai: May induce uterine contractions; contraindicated when pregnant or nursing
European Mistletoe: Toxic to cardio and central nervous systems, gastrointestinal bleeding
Ephedra: Agitation and palpitations, “hypertension, irregular heart rate, insomnia, nervousness, tremors and seizures, paranoid psychoses, heart attacks, strokes, and death”, kidney stones
Germander: Liver damage
Ginger: May alter bleeding time
American Ginseng: Hypertensive and chronotropic activities, may increase digoxin levels”, diarrhea, itching, insomnia, headaches, nervousness, rapid heartbeat, hypertension or hypotension, breast tenderness, vaginal bleeding. Very rarely Stevens–Johnson syndrome, liver damage, severe allergy has been reported. May lower blood sugar excessively in combination with diabetes medication. Contains a chemical linked to possible birth defects. May worsen hormone sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. Insomnia.
Greater Celandine: Liver damage
Guarana: Agitation and insomnia
Guar Gum: Obstruction of gastrointestinal tract
Gugulipid (myrrh and guggal): Headache, nausea, hiccups, diminished efficacy of other cardiovascular drugs including diltiazem and propranolol.
Hawthorn: Potentiates digitalis activity, increases coronary dilation effects of theophylline, caffeine, papaverine, sodium nitrate, adenosine and epinephrine, increase barbiturate-induced sleeping times.
Horse Chestnut: Liver toxicity, allergic reaction, anaphylaxis
Kava: Potentates CNS sedatives, chronic use might cause a reversible dry skin condition
Khat: Chronic liver dysfunction
Licorice Root: Hypokalemia, hypertension, arrhythmias, edema
Lobelia: Toxicity, rapid heartbeat, hypotension, coma, death
Milk Thistle: Mild laxative, allergy
Pennyroyal: Liver damage
Peony: May slow clotting; contraindicated for people with bleeding disorders and before and after surgery. May induce uterine contractions; contraindicated when pregnant or nursing.
Safrole (sassafras): Liver damage
Saw Palmetto: “rare and mild gastrointestinal upset, headaches, diarrhea, gynecomastia, paroxysmal atrial fibrillation, ventricular rupture and death in one patient.
Senna: “abdominal pain, diarrhea, potentially carcinogenic, with others can potentiate cardiac glycosides and antiarrhythmic agents”, liver damage.
St. John’s Wort: Photosensitization, GI disturbances, “allergic reactions, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, dry mouth
Valerian: “drowsiness, GI upset, headache, palpitations, insomnia”, oversedation, overstimulation
Vasambu: Vomiting and nausea
Yohimbe: rapid heart rate, hypertension, hypotension, heart problems, death
My Recommended Reading List:
The Essential Guide to Herbal Safety
The Way of Herbs
Botanical Safety Handbook