Herbal and Complimentary Therapies
Please read first: Medical Disclaimer
In recent years, herbal supplements have become very popular; just look at the many shelves containing herbal remedies at your local drug store. In some cases, consumers view these supplements as harmless because they are viewed as "natural" substances obtained from plants. They are also easily obtainable as no prescription is required for purchase. Herbal remedies, however, are only loosely regulated by the FDA. They are not required to be tested or proven safe prior to being marketed as they legally are "dietary supplements" and not prescription medications. The FDA can remove a dietary supplement from the market only if it presents a significant risk of illness or injury (Ephedra was pulled off the market only after it was found to be responsible for approximately 155 deaths).
Some herbal supplements may be useful, but in some cases they may also be harmful, especially when combined with prescription medications. Many herbal remedies interact with prescription medications. Some are also not recommended for use in combination with other cancer-fighting therapies. For example, the particular IV chemotherapy I received could have been 40% less effective if I had taken the herbal remedy St. John's Wort at the time of my treatment.