Close up photo of dried herbs
[Image: French Tart-FT - Wikimedia Commons]

Herbal Remedies Contra-Indications & Precautions

General Considerations

When properly used, herbs have a natural and balancing action on the body rather than a definite physiological effect and, as such, should be used with care and respect. Individual sensitivity can also vary significantly, so, if you are generally sensitive, start with a low dose and build up slowly once you have determined your level of tolerance.

Most people have a fairly high tolerance for herbs such as chamomile, and can quite happily drink 2-3 cups of the infusion per day over extended periods. However other herbs have a stronger effect on the system and must be used well within the recommended levels. If you are in any doubt seek professional advice.

Herbs should be used only when appropriate, for instance a stimulant herb might be ideal in the morning but not before bed; a herb which stimulates the uterus might be ideal for delayed menstruation but must be avoided during pregnancy.

It is not recommended to use single herbs or herbal combination in therapeutic doses for more than 12 weeks, unless professionally advised. This is because the body can become habituated to a herb’s action and even dependent, plus cumulative exposure to certain plant chemicals may have an irritant effect on certain body systems. Seek professional advice if there is little or no improvement after 12 weeks (maximum).

If you are taking any prescribed medication you should consult a qualified herbalist before taking herbal remedies.

Warning: In rare cases, Black cohosh may cause liver problems. Consult your doctor if you already have liver disease or become unwell whilst using this product.

Herbs to Avoid During Pregnancy

Herbs that stimulate the uterus muscles (including abortifacients, emmenagogues and strong laxatives) must be avoided during all stages of pregnancy, indeed all herbs should be checked specifically for safety if pregnant. The following herbs should all be avoided during pregnancy;

Aloes, Angelica, Ashwaganda, Barberry, Bethroot, Black Cohosh, Bladderwrack, Bloodroot, Blue Cohosh, Blue Flag Root, Borage, Buchu, Buckthorn, Bugleweed, Calamus Root, California poppy, Cascara Sagrada, Catnip, Celery Seed, Chasteberry (Agnus castus), Chinese Angelica, Chinese Rhubarb, Cinchona, Coltsfoot, Comfrey, Cottonroot, Dang Quai, Devil’s claw, Elecampane, Fenugreek, Feverfew, Ginseng, Gotu kola, Goldenseal, Gravel Root, Greater Celandine, Holy Thistle, Hops, Horsetail, Hyssop, Jamaican Dogwood, Juniper, Kola, Lady’s Mantle, Liferoot, Liquorice, Mahonia (Oregon Grape Root), Male Fern, Mandrake, Marigold, Marjoram, Milk Thistle, Motherwort, Mugwort, Myrrh, Pennyroyal, Pokeroot, Prickly Ash, Pulsatilla, Quassia, Red Clover, Rhubarb Root, Rosemary, Rue, Saffron, Sage, Senna, Shepherd’s Purse, Southernwood, Tansy, Thuja, Uva Ursi, Vervain, White Horehound, White Peony, Wild Indigo, Wild Yam, Wormwood, Yarrow, Yellow Dock.

Please note this list may not be exhaustive, if in doubt always consult your doctor.

Culinary herbs such as rosemary are safe to use in the small amounts  used in cooking.

The above herbs should also be avoided if breastfeeding.