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Just How Safe Are Herbal Medications?

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Healing with medicinal plants is as old as mankind itself.

Herbal medications are typically made from plants, herbs, roots and are known as Complementary Alternative Medications (CMAs)
Medications fall into 2 categories; Pharmaceuticals or CMAs.

Pharmaceuticals go through clinical trials and animal and human testing, the same trials do not exist for CMAs. 30-40% of the adult population report using herbal medications, so should you ask do CMAs interact in a negative way with medications given by your dentist?

You should know there can be interactions between antibiotics used in dentistry and certain herbal medications.

For example: Amoxicillin and Acacia

Acacia can reduce the absorption and therefore the efficacy of amoxicillin.

If using sedatives for patients:
Make sure patients are not using St. John’s Wort or Valerian because those can work together and could potentially put a patient into a deeper level of sedation than you intended.

Cardiac Patients:
If you are on an anticoagulant or antiplatelet agent, and you think that bleeding after an operation could be a problem following a procedure, you should definitely be concerned about the use of herbal medications that start with the letter “G” for example: garlic, ginseng, green tea and gingko. All of these can affect postoperative hemostasis (a process which causes bleeding to stop).
In our Etobicoke office we discuss the usage of herbal medications and if you think there is a potential risk for an interaction, we suggest you stop taking them at least 24 hours prior to any dental intervention.

For more information on herbal medications, there are other websites, such as those of the American Herbalist Guild, the Herb Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Office of Dietary Supplements. All of these resources are excellent starting points.

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