Herb Safety

Please note that the safety lists below refer only to the herbs referenced in the book Natural Prescriptions. It may not be entirely complete.

When used safely and correctly herbs are a valuable and effective home remedy and, in some cases, may have fewer side effects than some conventional medications. Never assume that because herbs are "natural" they are automatically safe. Some herbs may be inappropriate or even dangerous for people with certain medical conditions. Some herbs may cause allergic reactions or interact with conventional drugs and some are toxic if misused or in high doses. Some are not meant for internal use at all! If taking a herb for the first time it is prudent to do your research and if you are taking any medications be sure you check for contraindications. Using herbs for minor medical ailments is a great way to keep your family healthy naturally; however, if you have a severe medical condition, it is recommended that you seek the guidance of a qualified naturopath who can accurately diagnose your condition. A naturopath will also consider any other illnesses you may be suffering from along with crosschecking any pharmaceuticals you are taking against prescribed herbs. A naturopath may prescribe herbal teas and tinctures along with specialist nutrition and supplements as part of a wellness plan. Some examples of contraindications from certain popular herbs are described below. • St. John's wort taken internally or used externally may cause your skin to be more sensitive to the sun's UV rays and may cause an allergic reaction, stomach upset, fatigue, and restlessness. It’s been found that St. John's wort also interferes with the effectiveness of many drugs, including the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin), protease inhibitors, birth control pills, certain asthma drugs, and many other medications. In addition, St. John's wort should not be taken with prescribed antidepressant medication. The FDA has issued a public health advisory concerning many of these interactions. • Valerian may cause sleepiness and, in some people, it may even have the unexpected effect of overstimulating instead of sedating. • Ginkgo, Feverfew and Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding. Prescription medications may interact with many herbs and cause unwanted or dangerous reactions. For example, there is a high degree of herb/drug interaction among patients who are under treatment for cancer. Be sure to consult your doctor before trying any herbal products. Even some herbal remedies can be contra-indicated against each other so if you are suffering from a severe illness and are self-prescribing you need to be aware that more harm than good can come from trying “everything” at once. There are perhaps thousands of herbs available on the market. Because it is for sale does not necessarily mean it is safe to use. I cannot list all of the herbs that are not safe to use that are available in the world so I will just talk about the range of herbs I have listed in this book. The contraindications that are known at this time are as follow: 

HERBAL / PHARMA INTERACTIONS There are too many pharmaceuticals to mention particular cautions. If you are prescribed pharmaceutics please speak with your doctor or trusted health professional for warnings that may relate to you.

HERBS NOT FOR INTERNAL USE Comfrey Leaf, Comfrey Root, Arnica (never ever and should never come in contact with your blood), Apricot Kernels.

BLOOD PRESSURE If you have high blood pressure, do not use a herb that raises blood pressure. Visa-vis - Low blood pressure and related herbs.

DERMAL IRRITANTS Nettle when fresh or dried can cause a severe itch. In tea form there is no itch.

ANTIDEPRESSANTS WARNING While St John’s Wort is an excellent depression remedy it should never be combined with pharmaceutical anti-depressants.


AVOID DURING PREGNANCY Herbs that stimulate the uterine muscles, including abortifacients, emmenagogues and strong laxatives, must be avoided during all stages of pregnancy. In fact, it is important that all herbs be explicitly checked for safety if pregnant. The following herbs should always be avoided during pregnancy; Chaste Berry, Aloe Vera, Angelica Root, Aniseed, Ashwagandha, Basil, Blessed Thistle, Bladderwrack/Kelp, Buchu, Catnip/Catmint, Californian Poppy, Celery Seed, Cinnamon, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Damiana, Fenugreek, Ginseng, Golden Seal, Gotu Kola, Jatamansi, Juniper Berries, Lemongrass, Liquorice Root, Motherwort, Calendula, Mugwort, Myrrh, Oregano, Parsley, Pau D'arco, Red Clover, Rhubarb Root, Rosemary, Sage, Schisandra Berry, Shepard’s Purse, St John’s Wort, Thyme, Turmeric, Uva Ursi, Vervain, White Willow, Wormwood, Yarrow, Safflower

CONTRAINDICATIONS DURING LACTATION The following herbs should not be used by breastfeeding mothers. Aloe Vera, Angelica Root, Basil, Bladderwrack/Kelp, Buchu, Catnip/Catmint, Californian Poppy, Cinnamon, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Garlic, Golden Seal, Blessed Thistle, Juniper Berry, Lemongrass, Liquorice, Myrrh, Sage, St John’s Wort, Thuja, Uva Ursi, White Willow Bark, Wormwood, Yarrow.