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Supplements and Surgery

Timeless Health Tip

Doctors at the University of Chicago have assessed the interactions among herbs, anesthesia, and surgery, and come up with recommendations for reducing the associated risks.

Supplements and surgery

In people undergoing surgery, herbal supplements can interfere with sedation, pain control, bleeding, heart function, metabolism, immunity, and recovery in ways that experts are just beginning to understand.

It is important for people who take these supplements to tell their doctors about them, as well as any over-the-counter drugs they use, before they schedule their operations.

An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) listed eight herbs that might affect surgery or anesthesia and recommended that doctors ask their patients what supplements they are taking. Similarly, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has published a pamphlet listing common uses and potential side effects of thirteen herbs. Both the JAMA article and ASA pamphlet used phrases like may cause, may interact with, may prolong throughout. However, some degree of suggestive evidence does exist linking these herbs and potential side effects.

The herbs noted in the two publications are: Enchinacea, Ephedra (ma huang), Feverfew, Garlic, Ginger, Ginkgo biloba, Ginseng, Goldeneal, Kava, Licorice, Saw palmetto, St. John's wort and Valerian.

When purchasing supplements, be sure to look for Dr. Approved, or get your own doctor's approval before taking.

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