Version 10.1: January 2017
Special thanks to Marius-Daniel Brabete
Dietary supplements are often part of people’s health regimen. Being healthy includes making wise choices. This means knowing what goes into your body. If you take an herb or an herbal blend, do you know what you are taking? This glossary provides information on some popular supplements.
Herbs are used in folk and mainstream medicine. Historically and in many cultures, herbs have been and continue to be used as tools for health. Because of this power, herbs and supplements deserve both respect and caution. Just because they are natural and available doesn’t mean that the average person knows how to use supplements effectively. When learning about supplements, it is best to read information with a critical mind, INCLUDING what you read in this glossary.
This information is not intended as medical advice or endorsement of the use of dietary supplements. Always talk to your medical provider before taking any herbs or supplements. All herbs, drugs, and other substances have potential side effects. Allergic reactions have been reported for nearly every herb, sometimes with life- threatening consequences. If you suspect you are having an allergic reaction or another serious side effect, stop taking the substance and seek immediate medical advice. If you have trouble breathing or feel faint, call 911.
If you are scheduled for a medical or surgical procedure, particularly if anesthesia will be used, or plan to undergo chemotherapy, report supplement use to your medical provider. You may need to stop supplement use for a week or more before the procedure since many supplements interfere with anesthesia and/or blood clotting.
Note: In addition to dramatic increases in liver-related injuries due to herbal and dietary supplements (5% in 2004-2005 to 14% in 2013-2014) there has been an increase in liver-related injuries due to body building products (2% in 2004-2005 to 6% in 2013-2014). The exact cause of the liver-related injuries in body building products is challenging because multiple ingredients in the products, contaminated ingredients or ingredients are not listed on the label. – Source: HEPATOLOGY, VOL. 65, NO. 1, 2017
A few words about the supplements listed in this glossary:
- The goal was to choose supplements that may be particularly pertinent to those with liver disease, especially viral hepatitis.
- The information applies to supplements, NOT food. For instance, under artichoke, it says, “Avoid with bile duct obstruction or gallstones. Use cautiously in liver patients with clotting problems as artichoke may increase risk of bleeding.” This means to use caution when taking extracts and formulations that have high doses of the active ingredients found in artichoke. Unless your medical provider advises you otherwise, artichokes are generally safe to consume.
- Using the latest data, the information tries to show what the research proves. However, if something is not proven, that does not mean that the dietary supplement is ineffective—it just means that there is no scientific evidence to support it. For instance, the term, “unproven but purported to help with” means that people who use the substance may have benefited from that supplement, but at this point the supplement hasn’t been studied or the data doesn’t prove anything.
- Just because a supplement has a potential side effect doesn’t mean that the supplement is dangerous. A drug that may alter laboratory tests of liver enzymes may be a good thing if it means that it lowers them.
- Use sound judgment when considering a supplement. Check for possible interactions and consult with an expert.
- Research for the supplements listed in this glossary come from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, an independent scientific-review organization that is not affiliated with any manufacturer, government, or institution.
- For some information on herbs and supplements see Easy C Facts Natural and Alternative Medicine and Herbs and Vitamins
You can view the entire Glossary, page by page, here.
The Glossary will open in a new tab; you can page through all of the covered herbs using the “Next Page” with page numbers link at the bottom of each page . You’ll notice at the top a list of letters; if you are searching for something, you can use that list to see (only) those herbs that begin with your selected letter. If at any point you want to start over, just close that tab and click here again.
- American Botanical Council www.herbalgram.org
- ConsumerLab.com www.consumerlab.com
- Drugs.com Drug Information Online
www.drugs.com (You can use this website to check the interactions between all your medications and dietary supplements.)
- Mayo Clinic www.mayoclinic.com
- MedlinePlus www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/herb_All.html
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center www.mskcc.org/aboutherbs
- National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine http://nccam.nih.gov
- Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database www.naturaldatabase.com