It’s Natural so It’s Safe, Right?

In my twenty years in the healthcare industry I have seen just about everything when it comes to prescriptions. From drug seekers presenting forgeries to common interactions to serious contraindications.

 

One question I get a lot is “Can I take my vitamins with this medication”? My answer always is “It just depends”.

 

Some medications may have no interactions and then there are those that can have harmful effects if taken together.

 

Herbal products can frequently have drug interactions with prescription medications. For example: I have a patient at the pharmacy, “Jill” who was taking oral contraceptives for ovarian cysts. When her condition caused her to leave her job, she began taking St. John’s Wort for depression.

 

Her auntie had given it to her with the assurance that this was a natural alternative and would work just fine. Since it’s an “herbal” product she didn’t think twice about taking it. Or whether it would affect her other medications.

 

After a few weeks Jill came back into the pharmacy to announce her pregnancy! She was absolutely shocked (thrilled, but shocked) because she was consistent in taking her birth control pills every day.

I asked her if she was taking anything else besides her normal medications. At that point she admitted to taking a “natural supplement for my moods”.

 

Immediately, I realized that an interaction had most likely occurred and that by taking St. John’s Wort the oral contraceptives were less effective.

 

Not to worry though, she is the proud mama of an intelligent, healthy and happy 4 year old boy and couldn’t imagine life without her so called “accident”. 😉

 

Drug interactions with St. John’s Wort or other supplements can be numerous and dangerous. Due to the seriousness of many drug interactions, it is essential that you consult with your doctor or pharmacist for the drug interactions if you also take prescription, OTC, vitamin or herbal medications.

 

So Many Vitamins

Everywhere we look there is some sort of supplement or vitamin that promises increased health or vitality. These products line the shelves of our favorite health food stores, grocery chains and drugstores.

Just like prescription medication, supplements have a shelf life also. As you would check food items for expiration dates, it’s equally important to check your medication, vitamins and herbal remedies for their “best by” date also.

 

This morning I go to take my vitamins as I opened my medicine cabinet not only do I see outdated supplements, but a travel sized bottle of hair gel spilled down from the top shelf, down the back and had congealed in a sticky mess to the bottom shelf.

Ugh 😧

Not the way I intended to spend the morning, but I noticed that I was present in the moment as I cleaned up. And even though it was an aggravation in that instant, as things were removed, cleaned and replaced it had become a meditative experience. I felt better, energized even and my medicine cabinet is clean and clutter free!

 

Do you notice this too? When you are forced to clean something and not happy about doing it, but it becomes a “me time” moment and you wonder why you don’t clean the medicine cabinet more often? 😉

 

Medicine Cabinet Clean Up

Dedicate some time to go through your medicine cabinet. This always ends up being a bigger job than I expect so now I prepare for this activity with these tips:

  1. Get a box, bag or other container to use to discard any items.
  2. Prepare cleaning items: towels, rags, cleaner (here is an awesome natural homemade spray cleaner that is great in the kitchen and bathrooms. Use 1 part white vinegar, 4 parts water, 10-20 drops of essential oil (optional), and 1 tsp of organic dish soap).
  3. Take EVERYTHING out of the cabinet. Yes, I said everything. 😉
  4. Clean the shelves, the mirror and any hardware.
  5. Now go through what you took out of the cabinet and check the expiration dates on all items, from supplements and prescription medications to your cosmetics and even perfumes.
  6. If it is still “in date” and you use it regularly then put it back in the cabinet, if it is “expired” then toss it in the discard box.

 

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