Monday April 21 2014

Do not mix modern and herbal medicines

By Stella Nakakande

Last week, we talked about herbal medication, what they are, and whether they are effective in treating and curing various ailments. We, however, did not tackle the issue of mixing modern and herbal medicine to treat a particular disease, or ailments that could be occurring at the same time.
One thing to note is that it is not recommended to mix and take modern and herbal medicines at the same time. Here is why.

Firstly, for most of the herbs, it is the disease being treated that is known and not necessarily the active ingredient, which is responsible for carrying out the desired effect. In addition, these active ingredients have not been isolated so they often occur alongside other components of the plant. Some of these unknown components might be toxic.
In many cases, there are no studies that have been carried out to determine how the herbs affect body organs the way modern medicine does.
In this case, people taking these herbal medicines do so on the assumption that the medications do not interfere with normal body function such that when one combines modern and herbal medicines, there will be no toxicity from any of the two.

Some people slip a little bit of modern medicine in their herbal concoctions for instance to treat flu, yet they do not come out to say this clearly.

Side effects
Note that combining modern drugs which have the same component with a particular herb will mean one has a lot more of the drug in their body than is required, which increases the risk of side effects.

However, this is not to say that herbal medication is not effective. So when a person who has been using herbal concoctions to treat an ailment goes to hospital, they need to tell their doctor or pharmacist what herb they are or have been taking, and what they have been taking them for. Failure to do so might affect the way the prescribed drugs work or if they work at all.

The writer is a pharmacist