Toxic impact of herbal medicine on life

Phytochemicals or ayurvedic medicine are other names for herbal remedies. The World Health Organization defines herbal medicine as anything that contains parts of the plant or plant matter as an effective component, including herbs, herbal substances, herbal treatments, and completed herbal drugs.

In general, herbal medicine is regarded as a necessary component of dietary supplements. Due to its long history of use and widespread perception that herbs are natural and inherently safe, herbal medicine is gaining popularity.

Approximately 4 billion people, or 80% of the world’s population, depend on conventional herbal remedies for their health care, as per the WHO.

Utilizing herbal remedies as dietary supplements for illness prevention or as an alternative form of pharmaceuticals for health cure has grown in popularity in recent years. All across the world, a large range of herbal medicines are easily accessible on the market. In affluent nations like Canada, France, Australia, the United States, and Belgium, it is estimated that a sizeable portion of the population has utilized for medical treatment at least once. 

Safety of herbal medicine

Herbal remedies was historically discovered by experimentation. The foundation of modern traditional medicine is the experience that has been gathered over many generations. Even if a lengthy history of conventional use may serve as proof of its efficacy and safety, but that kind of practice is unreliable. 

Many research have shown the link between the negative effects of herbal medicine. But the processes underlying the great majority of herbal medicines remain mainly unexplored and untested in randomized clinical studies. The evaluation of the efficacy of herbal therapy has become increasingly important recently. Two main causes, intrinsic and extrinsic, can be linked to herbal medicine toxicity.

The intrinsic impacts of herbs are those that are directly related to the presence of the active chemical components in the herbs, such as the ephedrine-type alkaloids. The presence of external hazardous compounds rather than the actual herbs is typically linked to toxicities attributed to extrinsic causes such as infection, adulteration, and mistaken identity of herbal products.

intrinsic adverse effects

Adverse effects of herbal therapy can be divided into four groups, much like in conventional treatment.

Overdose responses and drug interactions fall under type A reactions. It primarily has to do with the pharmacological traits that herbal products naturally possess. The dose level determines whether a material is a remedy or a poison from a toxicological standpoint. Although herbal therapy has been shown to be a successful treatment for centuries, improper use or overdosing of herbal medication may have negative pharmacological effects. A number of organs and systems, including the liver, renal, digestive tract, neurological system, and heart and lungs, may be impacted.

The most frequent adverse responses brought on by herbal products are type B reactions. The most serious sort of allergic reaction, anaphylactic shock, can occur in addition to rashes.

Type C interactions are well-known and anticipated chronic side effects of long-term therapy. Since there has been no systemic review of herbal medicine,

Type D interactions are not frequently documented. Future research is anticipated to reveal additional long-term impacts of herbal medication.

Either pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic interactions may take place. The therapeutic qualities of a medicine may be affected by a pharmacokinetic interaction that changes the drug’s uptake, diffusion, digestion, or elimination. The molecular target that regulates various physiological responses is influenced by pharmacodynamic interaction. Either pharmacological and toxicological impacts may be modulated by the presence of different elements.

Extrinsic adverse effects

In addition to the inherent toxicity of herbs, other toxic chemicals may also be present and contribute to the harmful effects of herbs. In relation to negative consequences, contamination, adulteration, and misidentification of therapeutic plants are the most frequent possibilities.

The presence of heavy metals and microbiological toxins has been widely reported throughout the world as a result of inadequate quality control in the manufacturing and formulation of herbal supplements.

What are toxic effect of herbal medicine

Contamination

Because of its accumulating nature and probable medical risks to people, heavy metal exposure has remained a global concern. In Asia, there is a significant issue with heavy metal poisoning of herbal items. Due to their potential hazardous effects at very low quantities, lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic are among the heavy metals that are frequently detected in herbal medicine and are of particular public health concern. During growth, maintenance, and treatment, medicinal plants are exposed to heavy trace metals.

Heavy metals are absorbed and accumulated in medicinal plants as a result of contaminants of agricultural soil, water sources, and air due to pollution, fertilizer, and pesticides. Ingesting heavy metals causes their accumulation in many organs, which can conflict with their normal operations and have detrimental effects on health. Therefore, the WHO advises that medicinal plants that serve as the final product’s raw materials must be tested for the accumulation of heavy metals.

Adulteration

Other health issue with natural treatment is pharmaceutical adulteration. The term “adulteration” uses the example of chemical components in herbal medicine that are not listed on the label or required for the intended usage. It has been alleged that a variety of natural treatments, like the Black Pearls for arthritis, include unlabeled pharmaceutical components. 

Misidentification

Due to their similar aspect, muddled terminology, and complexity of processing, medicinal herbs and herbal items are frequently misinterpreted. Misclassification and misdiagnosing are always possible risks. 

Since they are ‘natural’ items, herbal medicines may be incorrectly believed to be fully safe. This isn’t always the case. Herbal medications may have side effects that range in severity from minor to severe. These side effects may include allergies and rashes, bronchitis, hypertension, sickness, coughing, and constipation.

The efficacy of other medications you are taking may be increased or decreased, and the risk of adverse effects may increase if you take herbal supplements. 

Conclusion

Due to inadequate pharmacological and toxicological information, the safety of herbal medicines has become a public concern as the market for herbal medicine expands. The need for and importance of toxicological evaluation are being further highlighted by mounting evidence of the negative consequences associated with herbal remedies. The investigation of complicated molecular responses in response to a wide variety of herbal products is now possible and thanks to recent advances in technology and biochemistry. [1]Toxic Effects as a Result of Herbal Medicine Intake | IntechOpen  [2]Possible Toxicity of Herbal Remedies – J. Bateman, R.D. Chapman, D. Simpson, 1998 (sagepub.com) [3]doi:10.1016/S0045-6535(03)00471-5 (core.ac.uk)

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