23 August 2007

Thirteen Potentially Dangerous Herbs

Herbal remedies are all the rage, judging from the overwhelming number of choices available from even your local Wally World. I'm all for trying alternative remedies, but before you start loading up your shopping cart, take note of the herbs on this list. Just because it's labeled "herbal" doesn't mean it's safe.

1. Black Cohosh – That's right, the one many women use to ease PMS and menopausal symptoms. It's easy to overdose, making you dizzy and nauseous. And if you're pregnant? Stay away from it.

2. Buttercup – This innocent-looking yellow flower should be administered only by a professional. The sap of the fresh plant can cause blisters and sores on bare skin.

3. Foxglove – The medicine made from this plant is used to treat heart attacks. But if a healthy person ingests it, foxglove can cause one.

4. Goat's Rue – Once considered useful for nursing mothers and diabetics, it is now known to cause poisoning and death in farm animals and possibly humans.

5. Hedge Garlic – Most often used to treat rheumatism and asthma, it's not overly poisonous but can cause skin irritation.

6. Hedge Hyssop – Used to help smokers quit, in extremely small doses. It is very easy to overdose and become ill.

7. Holly – The berries of this sacred plant can kill small children. Only a very few varieties are relatively safe to handle, but you need to consult an expert before attempting it.

8. Jimson Weed – This ubiquitous weed has narcotic properties and should only be taken in extremely small doses in a respiratory emergency. Don't try this without the strict guidance of a professional.

9. Lily of the Valley – Like many herbs used to treat heart ailments, what makes this plant useful also makes it very dangerous. As with digitalis, it can harm a healthy heart. Unless you're under strict supervision by a medical professional, leave this herb alone.

10. Mistletoe – Like holly, the berries of this sacred plant can kill small children. It should never be taken internally.

11. Mulberry – The unripe berries are said to cause hallucinations.

12. Ragwort – Considered a protective amulet against spells and charms, it contains alkaloids that can poison livestock.

13. Yew – Yet another sacred plant, all parts are considered poisonous except the fleshy seed covering. But why risk it?

Source: Llewellyn's 2002 Herbal Almanac



Robin said...

Fascinating list.

I'm a lactation consultant, and I always tell mothers that they MUST check with a qualified herbalist before taking anything. These things are taken because they do WORK, and therefore they do have a specific effect on the body. Not something to just dabble in, that's for sure.

Carolan Ivey said...

Thanks, Robin!

Miss Wisabus said...

Wow. Thanks for the info!

tea_please said...

"said to cause hallucinations"

Brings new meaning to "round and round the mulberry bush."

Carolan Ivey said...

LOL! Indeed. :)

Denise Patrick said...

Wonderful list. I used foxglove in one of my books, but I won't tell you what for. I left the reader wondering, too. *evil grin*

Comedy + said...

I didn't know any of this. Wow, what a great piece of information. Have a great TT. :)

Lori said...

Yikes....thanks for the info!

Jenna Bayley-Burke said...

how did I not know about mistletoe? No more in my house during the holidays!

Carolan Ivey said...

I think that's why it is hung up high on the ceilings, to keep kids and pets away from it. :)

Samantha Lucas said...

I grew up homeopathic and it always amazed me how the same thing that can be lethal if tweaked and administered correctly could save lives.

Plus I love plants. :) Great list.

Lara Angelina said...

This was really interesting -- I know so many women my age who are using black cohosh! I'll have to mention this --
thanks! Great TT and thanks for stopping by!

Nicole Austin said...

Wow, great list! I had no idea herbs could be so dangerous.

Happy TT!

Mechele Armstrong said...

Interesting list. Good to know.

colleen said...

I think prescribed drugs are more suspect with all the side effects they create. Every other day a new one is advertised as causing heart attacks and or killing people. Most herbs are safe enough and I use them all the time, but you should learn about them before you attempt using them. The only one on this list I would never touch is jimson weed, but I know people who have used it.

Tink said...

I'm late, but I'm glad I stopped by. Interesting stuff!
My new kitten Maia took over my TT to introduce herself with 13 pictures! :-)