What Do Garlic, Kava, St. John’s Wort, and Vitamin E Have In Common?

Do you take vitamins and herbal supplements on a regular basis? Although there are both anecdotal and scientific reasons to do so, many herbal supplements can interfere with surgical recovery, from increased bleeding to unwanted anesthesia interactions. By telling your surgeon what you take, he or she can tell you what to avoid prior to surgery, and ultimately decrease the risks for potentially dangerous side effects!

Many of today’s miracle drugs (penicillin, digoxin, codeine and many others) were derived from plants. Conversely, there are many plants that are not used as a source for medicines but, nevertheless, have potent biologic activity and can produce problems if taken shortly before or after surgery.

Here is just a short list, not all-inclusive, of potential problems that can occur from taking some herbal preparations around the time of surgery:

Ephedra – Possible complications: heart attack and stroke
Garlic – Possible complications: bleeding during and immediately following surgery
Ginkgo – Possible complications: bleeding during and immediately following surgery
Ginseng – Possible complications: bleeding during and immediately following surgery
Kava – Possible complications: may increase the sedative effect of anesthesia
Saint John’s Wort – Possible complications: may cause acute rejection of a transplanted organ by interfering with anti-rejection medications; rejection may begin within 24 hours of taking Saint John’s Wort
Valerian – Possible complications: may increase the sedative effect of anesthesia
Vitamin E – Possible complications: bleeding during and immediately following surgery

It is imperative that you discuss with your surgeon any herbals or over the counter drugs that you are planning to take around the time of your surgery. Furthermore, it is best to stop all herbal medications, supplements and megadoses of vitamins within a few weeks of your surgery. Write a list of any herbal preparations you take along with the medications you regularly take on a piece of paper and keep this list in your wallet.

Schedule a Consultation

Do you want to learn more about how your vitamins and supplements can effect you? Call Mark D. Epstein today at (631) 689-1100 to schedule your consultation.

To your health & beauty,
Dr. Mark Epstein

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