Herbal and dietary supplements



Can I take herbal and dietary supplements?

The use of herbal medicines is common. Herbal medicine is defined as a plant-derived product used for medicinal and health purposes; commonly used herbal supplements include echinacea, garlic, ginseng, ginkgo biloba, St John's wort and valerian.
Herbal medicines can have a variety of effects on surgery and interact with anaesthetic drugs. Ginkgo, ginseng and garlic all impair blood clotting and promote excessive bleeding. Prolongation of action of anaesthesia drugs can occur with valerian and St John's wort. Herbal dietary supplements should be stopped two weeks prior to surgery.
Fish oil supplements are also popular as a dietary supplement. They have potential in reducing cholesterol and hence may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and may be used to treat arthritis. The Therapeutic Goods Administration says that omega 3, which is found in fish oil, has no effect on bleeding and can be continued before surgery.

To top - Back to all questions

Copyright © Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.