There are two comments bound to make any credible herbalist cringe. One is "It can't hurt me, it's all natural," and the other is "herbs don't have any side effects or interactions." Both are wrong. They can hurt you and they do have side effects and interactions.
Dangerous Herbs: Two good examples in this category are Ephedra and Blue Cohosh. Ephedra has often been used in weight loss products. It was once banned but seems to now be in some sort of grey area. The problem is that it could kill you. The substance in it is chemically similar to epinephrine, and it could cause a heart attack, amongst other things.
Blue cohosh is sometimes recommended to speed childbirth. The good news is that it can do just that. The bad news is that both mother and child could die before the baby is even born. Infants have been born having heart attacks because their mother took blue cohosh.
Cautionary Herbs: Some herbs may be effective, but the number of side effects, interactions or preparation methods makes herbalists nervous unless properly prepared. Cherry bark is great for stopping a cough, but it isn't something for those who don't know how to prepare it to work with. The principle that helps stop the cough is cyanide, and too much of that will kill you.
Licorice is another good example. The problem here are the side effects and interactions. The root is high in sugar, so it could cause problems in diabetics. It raises blood pressure, so it could cause problems for those with high blood pressure or heart disease. In fact, it can cause heart rhythm problems in healthy people.
GRAS: This acronym stands for "generally recognized as safe." While these herbs do have side effects and interactions, most people can take them safely. Chamomile, garlic, lemon balm and so forth are all on this list.
There are three ways herbs can have a major effect on your body. Knowing the herb and what these terms mean may help you make the right decision.
Interaction: This problem happens when two things are combined that react to each other. If you've ever done the "volcano" experiment, you've seen one outside your body. If you mix vinegar and baking soda, it will foam up. Some herbs do that inside the body, both with other herbs and with medications. While this is all right on occasion, most of the time interactions are not considered good things.
Side Effects: The main action of chamomile is to help calm a person down. One of the side effects is it makes that person sleepy. Another is that it could cause uterine contractions. These side effects can be a problem if you're driving somewhere or you're pregnant. That's what a side effect is; something other than the main reason you're taking the supplement.
Medical Conditions: Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and immune function diseases can all react negatively to certain herbs. I've already mentioned licorice, which covers the first two. When it comes to the immune system, another popular herb is a problem. It is not advised to take Echinacea if you have any problem that affects that system.
Choosing the right supplement is not like picking out a new pair of shoes. Talk to your doctor, your pharmacist and if possible a qualified herbal practitioner. We may be able to help you find a supplement that is right for you and doesn't do you more harm than good.
Saw palmetto comes from a palm-like plant that grows in the southeast United States. The berries of this plant are used to make the capsule form of saw palmetto.
Saw palmetto has been used to treat symptoms of enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH). Saw palmetto is also popular as an herbal remedy for a type of hair loss and baldness called androgenic alopecia, or male- and female-pattern baldness. This type of hair loss is typically the greatest at the top of the head or around the temples. Although it is still not know exactly how it works, it’s believed that it may block an enzyme (5-alpha-reductase) from allowing the hormone testosterone from being converted to another hormone, dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is considered a key contributing factor to the onset and progression of androgenic alopecia and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Saw palmetto has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety, effectiveness, or purity. All potential risks and/or advantages of saw palmetto may not be known. Additionally, there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for these compounds.
The case below is an example of what a liver with saw palmetto toxicity would look like. Before the liver is sliced, you can appreciate how abnormal it looks. Grossly it is just gnarly. It’s enlarged, green-orange/brown and extremely nodular. Compare that to the normal liver photo seen directly below it…
The outer surface of the liver is so nodular it almost looked cirrhotic, until it was sliced.
The orange/brown areas of the liver are grossly consistent with confluent to almost sub-massive hepatic necrosis. Microscopically these areas would show dead hepatocytes (liver cells). These findings can be seen in fulminant hepatic necrosis with autoimmune hepatitis, hepatitis B virus and drug toxicity. The liver grossly looks nodular because the areas of necrosis (orange/brown)areas are dead and collapsed, so the live (green) areas are raised giving a nodular appearance. It is not cirrhotic. Laboratory tests could rule out autoimmune hepatitis and viral hepatitis.
The final diagnosis: Confluent to almost sub-massive hepatic necrosis due to acute drug (saw palmetto) toxicity.
According to the National Institutes of Health, several cases of liver problems have been reported from saw palmetto use. A report of possible acute liver toxicity from saw palmetto was published in “British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology” in 2010. After the patient discontinued saw palmetto, all symptoms disappeared within a few weeks. Unfortunately, in some cases, the liver can be damaged beyond repair and this diagnosis is made at autopsy.
Herbalife Side Effects
Some people experience unpleasant side effects when using various Herbalife products. These are described and addressed in this article for your safety and well-being.
If you experience bloating, try changing the portion size to reduce this feeling. Enjoy healthy snacks during the day and smaller meals to assist your digestion. If you are using the shake mix as a meal replacement you may want to reduce the portion size or frequency.
Some people report that their mouth is dry after black or fruit tea. Detox products often produce thirst so you can try increasing your intake of water. Dryness from using the shakes can be caused by acid reflux since it contains guar gum and psyllium husk. These have expanding properties, which can cause reflux. Guar bean is high in protein and oil and guar gum is used worldwide in many beverages, foods and supplements. In significant quantities, guar gum dehydrates the body and can cause some serious side effects. However, it is regulated by the FDA who only permits extremely small quantities of it in food. Guar gum in the shake mix is used to emulsify or bind the particles and has been determined to be of insignificant quantities.
Palpitations may be from caffeine sensitivity. The tea does have caffeine in it so you could either stop using the tea or eventually you will get used to caffeine and the palpations should recede. The shake mix does not contain any caffeine.
In the nineties it was found that Ephedra caused increased heart rate and Herbalife discontinued using Ephedra in any of its products.
Upset Stomach, Headache and Fevers:
In the first few days, many years of accumulated toxins and waste in the body begin to be expelled. Diarrhea, headaches, fever or nausea can arise.
These are temporary symptoms and will subside whether you continue the diet or not. The discomfort is not very common but happens to some people. Once you are detoxified you should feel great however. The body has toxins or free radicals surrounded by fat molecules, and when burning these fat molecules, the toxins are released into the bloodstream for elimination. They circulate through the body and are filtered out by the kidneys and liver. This can take up to 2 weeks. Areas where toxins and pollutants are expelled from the body can display reactions. You can first use a detoxification program to cleanse your system before starting the weight loss program if you wish.
Unpleasant-Smelling Urine or Perspiration:
This is another possible reaction to the body cleansing that is not caused by the products, but the waste you are cleaning out. The products are working just as they should.
Allergic Reaction and Blocked Sinuses:
People who are very allergic to fish need to know that some Herbalife products contain fish oil. See a medical specialist to determine if this is an allergic reaction. Sinuses are especially sensitive because they are soft tissue. Sinus irritations should clear in 1 to 3 weeks but if they get worse, discontinue using the product and consult a medical professional.
Beware of nutrient deficiency when losing weight. The Herbalife ShapeWorks program recommends that along with the 2 shakes and one healthy meal, you should add the Multivitamins and Cell Activator to ensure that you are getting enough nutrition. Cell Activator helps increase your nutrient absorption from food.
This might indicate an allergic reaction to an ingredient in the Herbalife products. Please show your doctor the product labels and ask his advice. It would be best to discontinue using the product until you know what the cause of your swelling is.
Total Control (the metabolism booster) carries a warning to not be used by the pregnant, lactating (or those that want to get pregnant). Rapid weight loss and stimulants during breastfeeding can release too many toxins into your blood stream and thus into your milk. This can cause a decrease in your milk supply and be unhealthy for your baby. Avoid the stimulants in Total Control and the Herbal Tea, which contain caffeine. Herbalife products have nutrition labels that show warnings to guide women who are pregnant, nursing or who may become pregnant.
These are the most commonly reported side-effects that happen when the body is de-toxifying. Redness, blotchy skin and irritation can arise. Your skin being the largest organ, has the most cells to repair and also discharges toxins. It takes about 2 weeks to cleanse the blood stream and during this time the departing toxins can be irritating. Exercise produces sweat and will release toxins that can irritate the skin. Herbal Aloe Soothing Gel can provide symptomatic relief.
Hair Loss or Breakage:
Formula 1 Nutritional Shake Mix has been shown to improve skin, hair and nail growth. If you experience hair loss early in your weight loss program, this is because damaged cells are being repaired or replaced. When beginning a weight loss program, your body will target the most damaged cells. Hair usually has the oldest cells and is thus the first target for renewal. Hair soon becomes healthier than before so you need not worry about this.
General Detoxing Effects:
It is very well known that at the beginning of a diet or fast there may be some adverse side effects. These usually subside within a few weeks however. If you detoxify for a few days using plain water, fruit or vegetables you will also experience some side effects. When we have better nutrition, or when toxic substances such as coffee, tea, chocolate, tobacco, salt, and pepper are discontinued, amazing changes take place. Our bodies discard the lower grade materials and tissues to make room for newer, healthier ones.
Do not try to stop any Herbalife side effects by taking drugs. Either let the healing take its natural course or stop using the product if you experience an allergic reaction.