Depending on the condition being
treated, your physician may suggest not taking
particular OTC medications. For example, epileptics need
to be careful when taking diphenhydramine (e.g.
Benadryl) or cold medicines containing
phenylpropanolamine (PPA) since these drugs are known to
increase seizure frequency. Make sure that the physician
treating you is aware of all health conditions which may
affect the medications you need to take.
While there are some individuals who
have found tremendous health benefits from taking herbal
remedies, caregivers should still be concerned when
considering their use. Just because an herbal remedy
touts that it is all-natural does not mean that it is
safe. Some of these herbal products can cause dangerous
interactions with medications that you may be taking.
Also, donít take an herbal remedy for the same condition
for which medication has already been prescribed unless
approved by the doctor. Write down any herbal remedies
along with other medications that you are taking to be
certain that the doctor has an accurate picture of
everything that is taken at home.
Some preparations can contain high
amounts of metals such as lead and mercury due to
processing. In addition, contaminants such as pesticides
may also be found in some of these remedies. Some herbal
remedies have been found to contain illicit prescription
medicines and were not labeled as such.
Herbal remedies often make claims on
the packaging that have not been safely evaluated by the
Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Without standardized
testing, some of these remedies can be a source of
trouble for the patient since there is little data to
back up these claims. Since many companies market these
remedies as food supplements, they arenít as stringently
monitored by the FDA. In addition, manufacturers arenít
held to the same accountability standards as
If you feel it necessary to take an
herbal remedy, consult your loved oneís physician first.
Exercise caution when reading labels. Some remedies have
been found to contain so little of an herb that it is
nothing more than a placebo. For example, one research
study found that more than 60 percent of ginseng
products contained so little ginseng that they were
Certain foods can also affect
medications, usually in ways that the medicine is
absorbed throughout the body. Some of these foods or
additives to foods include caffeine and vitamin K (found
in broccoli). There are also medications that interact
negatively with grapefruit juice which reduces or
eliminates the effect of the medicine. There are many
other foods to consider and the pharmacy may have this
information for specific medications.
Food can slow the absorption of
some medicines throughout the body.
Meals high in carbohydrates can
adversely affect the absorption rate of some
Some medications need food to help
it absorb for the bodyís use.