Herbal medicines are those with active ingredients made from plant parts, such as leaves, roots or flowers. But being "natural" doesn't necessarily mean they're safe for you to take.
Just like conventional medicines, herbal medicines will have an effect on the body, and can be potentially harmful if not used correctly.
They should therefore be used with the same care and respect as conventional medicines.
If you're consulting your doctor or pharmacist about health matters, or are about to undergo surgery, always tell them about any herbal medicines you're taking.
Potential issues with herbal medicines
If you're taking, or plan to take, any herbal medicines, be aware of the following:
- They may cause problems if you're taking other medicines. They could result in reduced or enhanced effects of the medicine, including potential side effects.
- You may experience a bad reaction or side effects after taking a herbal medicine.
- Not all herbal medicines are regulated. Remedies specially prepared for individuals don't need a licence, and those manufactured outside the UK may not be subject to regulation.
- Evidence for the effectiveness of herbal medicines is generally very limited. Although some people find them helpful, in many cases their use tends to be based on traditional use rather than scientific research.