Patients are generally aware that when their doctors ask what medications they are on, they need to disclose the prescription medications they are taking. What many patients don’t realize, however, is that it is vitally important to also disclose herbal and homeopathic medications and supplements as well. Dietary supplements and herbal medications are becoming increasingly popular, and patients often assume that because they are labeled as homeopathic or natural, they are safe. They do, however, have effects in the body, which is part of the reason they are so effective and so popular. It is also the reason they can be quite dangerous if your surgeon does not know what you are using before performing surgery.
It is pretty widely known that medications such as aspirin and ibuprofen carry with them a risk of increased bleeding. But did you know that many herbal supplements can do the same? These include gingko, garlic, ginseng, fish oil, and Dong Quai, among others. These supplements should be avoided before and after surgery to ensure that you do not expose yourself to excess bleeding and bruising during surgery.
Some supplements have effects on the cardiovascular system. These include ephedra, which can cause hypertension and palpitations, and garlic, which can cause hypotension.
It is also important to know that many herbal supplements can interact with prescription medications. Some supplements known to have possible interactions include Echinacea, licorice, glucosamine, valerian root, St John’s Wort, and kava. Some of these can affect clotting agents. Others, which act as depressants, can not only cause interactions, but may magnify the effects of anesthesia. Due to the inherent risks of anesthesia alone, you want to be sure that none of your medications are going to cause interactions.
If you are interested in setting up a consultation, contact Dr. Kabaker at his Oakland, CA, office at 800-914-4247.