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Is the combination of herbal pills and medicines dangerous?

  1. Some herbal pills can enhance or weaken the effect of medicines. That can be harmful to health. Herbal pills or herbal preparations are made from plants or herbs that are known for a certain effect. For example, some drugs are said to be an appetite suppressant, sedative or sleep-inducing. Herbal pills are also sometimes used to lose weight or to concentrate better. Most of the time, the health effects of these herbs have not been well researched. Well-known examples of these herbal pills are valerian, garlic and St. John's wort, as well as ginseng and turmeric (turmeric).

Combination with medicines

  1. Herbal preparations can influence the effect of medicines. For example, St. John's wort can inhibit the action of drugs that suppress the immune system, and these drugs are important in chemotherapy. Another example: garlic pills have an inhibitory effect on blood clotting and can enhance the action of anticoagulants (blood thinners). As a result, the blood may not clot enough, which can cause bleeding.

Which herbal preparations can influence the effect of medicines?

  1. The following 10 herbal preparations have been investigated by the RIVM and may possibly influence the effect of medicines: American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) Herbal preparations with garlic (Allium sativum) Danshen or red sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza) Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) Ginkgo or Japanese nut tree (Ginkgo biloba) St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) Herbal preparations with green tea (Camellia sinensis) Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) The health risks can range from minor to serious. That depends on the type, strength and amount of the herbal preparation and the drug. More information can be found on the website of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

Consultation with doctor

  1. Do you use medicines and do you want to use an herbal preparation? Always consult your doctor or pharmacist.

What about culinary herbs?

  1. Spices that you use in the kitchen to give food more flavor, such as turmeric, are not covered by herbal preparations. The amounts you use are much smaller than in a pill or tablet. And a cup of green tea or tea with ginseng won't hurt either.



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