As more Iowans turn to herbs to cure their ills, one expert says thecareless use of such remedies could be hazardous to their health. Dr. TeresaKlepser is a pharmacy professor at the University of Iowa. She says peopleneed to tell their doctors or pharmacists if they’re starting to take herbs.Dr. Klepser says combinations of drugs and herbs could create bad sideeffects and other health risks. Popular herbs of late include: garlic,ginseng, saw palmetto and St. John’s wort. Klepser says people think herbsaren’t dangerous since they’re naturally grown and don’t require aprescription.Klepser says an anti-obesity herb is particularly dangerous when taken inlarge doses. It’s called ma huang. Klepser says there have been severaldocumented cases where people who were taking that herb had severe heartattacks and strokes.She says the Asian herb has been banned from being sold in many states, butit is still available in Iowa. Klepser serves on the advisory panel for theU-of-I’s Alternative and Complementary Care Clinic where she advisespatients on the use of herbal remedies. Americans spent three-and-a-quarterbillion dollars on herbal therapies in 1997.
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