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Herbs and Surgery

Sensational Seniors

Make sure you tell your doctor if you are taking any herbs or other supplements.

Fresh grown herb

Herbs that can cause complications before or during surgery:

  • Garlic, ginkgo and ginseng can cause bleeding
  • Ephedra can raise blood pressure and heart rate
  • Ginseng can lower blood sugar levels
  • Kava and valerian can make anesthetics more potent
  • St. John's Wort can interfere with some drugs
  • Echinacea can cause allergic reactions or alter immune function

What to do:

Stop taking garlic, ginseng and St. John's wort roughly a week before surgery, and ginkgo, kava and ephedra a day or two before surgery.

There is no reliable information on how early to stop taking echinacea or valerian.

A simpler suggestion from the American Society of Anesthesiologists is to stop taking any herbal supplement at least two to three weeks before an operation.

Source:  Journal of the American Medical Association

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