7 Supplements You Need To Stay Away From
Natural doesn't always mean safe, especially if ingested. Many health seekers do not realize that they may be putting themselves in grave danger when taking natural supplements in an attempt to either improve their health or combat certain illnesses and disease. Here's a list of supplements that have been identified as having some serious and potentially damaging health effects.
Kava: A plant native to the South Pacific that has been used as a ceremonial beverage in the region for thousands of years, and, more recently, as a natural treatment for medical conditions such as anxiety. Recent evidence has linked this supplement to liver damage and has already been banned in Canada, Germany and Switzerland and the FDA has issued many warnings on the supplement.
Aconite: Preparations made from this herb are used in very small doses in traditional Chinese medicine and the Ayurvedic tradition to treat pain related to conditions including arthritis, cancer, gout, inflammation, migraine headaches, neuralgia, rheumatism and sciatica. Aconite comes from monkshood (Aconitum napellus), one of the most poisonous plants known. Studies of compounds from it have found no evidence to support claims for their usefulness as anesthetics or as treatments for circulatory and neurological conditions. Aconite can cause irregular heartbeat, heart failure, and death and even in topical form is dangerous.
Comfrey: Used for the treatment of cancer and also used to treat heavy bleading during menstrual cycle. The healing effects are thought to come from allantoin, a substance that makes cells proliferate, and rosmarinic acid, an anti-inflammatory. Unfortunately, these compounds occur together in comfrey with toxins called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). For this reason, comfrey should never be taken by mouth; it can cause serious liver, lung damage and even cancer. According to most doctors well versed in natural health, comfrey can safely be used externally as a treatment for wounds that do not heal easily such as bedsores (decubitus ulcers), diabetic ulcers, and staph infections.
Country Mallow: This herb (Sida cordifolia) contains ephedrine, a potentially dangerous stimulant. For this reason, in 2004, the FDA banned the sale of country mallow as well as ephedra (herb) and all products containing ephedrine. In announcing the ban, FDA said that studies showed little evidence of effectiveness, except for short-term weight loss. Risks include increased blood pressure and stress on the heart, which the FDA concluded would negate any benefits of losing weight.
Coltsfoot: This herbal remedy has been used for centuries for coughs and colds. while coltsfoot is likely to be effective for minor respiratory complaints, its leaves and flowers contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can damage the liver. For this reason, use of this herb is less than ideal from a safety perspective and should be avoided.
Greater Celandine: The roots, herb, and juice of this herb (Chelidonium majus) are used as a mild sedative, for prevention of gallstones, and to treat ailments as diverse as intestinal and digestive problems, liver disease, and eye irritation. Celandine preparations have also been used on the skin to treat ringworm, warts, and corns and the herb has been combined with antiviral agents to treat herpes, HIV, and the Epstein-Barr virus. Alkaloids from celandine are in a product called Ukrain, promoted for cancer treatment, but I have seen no scientific evidence that demonstrates its effectiveness. Celandine has been reported to cause hepatitis and may be to blame for unexplained cases of the disease. It also can cause rashes, itching, and serious allergic reactions in some people.
Germanium: A trace element used in the production of electronic devices, germanium is sometimes marketed as vitamin O. It has been linked to kidney and liver damage. Germanium has been promoted as a treatment for leukemia and other types of cancer as well as asthma, diabetes, hypertension, cardiac insufficiency, Parkinson's disease, neuralgia, chronic fatigue, hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver and neurosis. Promoters also claim that germanium stimulates the body's production of interferon, a naturally occurring anticancer agent, and boosts the activity of the immune system's natural killer cells that attack invading germs. I have seen no scientific evidence that supports any of these claims.