A friend of mine who is a nurse recently posted a PSA on his social media about herbal-to-medication interactions and how it’s one of the largest categories of avoidable medical harm. As someone who casually dabbles in herbalism, one of the things that I have always considered very important is researching how herbs can interact with other medications or existing conditions. I have observed, however, that most people do not do what I would consider to be due diligence and instead add a simple disclaimer, eg: “Please consult with your physician before using any herbal supplements”. While this manages to just barely skirt around the bare legal minimum requirements to avoid being sued, I think it seems disingenuous.
My nurse friend’s example was the fact that grapefruit supplements interact with cholesterol and blood pressure medication. Some others chimed in on the conversation with comments about marijuana and serotonin levels, or how saint johns wort doesn’t play nice with SSRIs or oral hormonal supplements. I included a blurb in my Hangover Tisane Recipe about meadowsweet and blood thinners because of the naturally-occurring salicylates. And while it’s not technically an interaction, I find it alarming how often valerian root is included in herbal teas with no word on how habit-forming it can be.
These are just a few examples, but I feel that I’ve made my point. There are a lot of herbal teas out there, some even claiming to treat certain ailments or conditions. I would warn everyone to be cautious, and recommend doing at least a little bit of research into each ingredient before drinking a healing tisane. And as my friend in the medical industry requests: If there are any herbals tisanes or supplements that you take regularly, be sure to mention them to your doctor!