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The Unsettling Side Effects of Common Herbal Supplements

The Unsettling Side Effects of Common Herbal Supplements

    There is a booming market for herbal and dietary supplements in the US. We’ll try any pill or herb that claims to make our minds sharper or our stress levels lower. Anything is worth experimenting with once if it can boost our productivity.

    While most over-the-counter herbal supplements are perfectly safe, some of the pills you may be taking could be harmful to your health. If you’ve been consuming any herbal supplements to improve the number of productive hours you have each day, familiarize yourself with some of the potential side effects below.

    DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to treat, prevent, or cure any ailment. Always consult your doctor before starting a herbal supplement regimen to make sure that there are no complications due to your health or any other medications that you may currently be taking.

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    1. Caffeine

    Okay, caffeine doesn’t really count as a dietary supplement…but so many of us consume it daily in such large quantities that it is worth discussing its effects the body.

    As a drug that can boost energy levels, caffeine is one of our oldest pick-me-ups. However, too much caffeine causes stomach problems, jitters, insomnia, and dehydration. Avoid the energy drinks and over-sized espresso drinks, and stick to one small cup of coffee at a time.

    2. Ginkgo

    Ginkgo biloba herbal supplements are taken by people looking to increase their memory or concentration, making them a popular choice with both students and those over 50. There is also some evidence to suggest ginko supplements can aid with preventing further memory loss for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, although additional study is needed.

    However, if you take ginkgo with Ibuprofen or any blood thinners (such as Coumadin or aspirin), this can enhance the anticoagulant properties of these medications. This can cause excessive bleeding or increased chance of bruising.

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    3. St. John’s Wort

    Pale-skinned, depressed ladies beware! There is one herbal supplement you may need to steer clear of. St. John’s Wort is an herb that can decrease feelings of depression and elevate your mood.

    However, if you take it every day, you’ll need to start amping up your SPF, as this herb has been linked to severe sun reactions.

    More troubling, St. John’s Wort can increase the rate at which estrogen is broken down by the body…and for ladies on the birth control pill, that can mean increased risk of unintended pregnancy.

    4. Kava

    Kava is used to calm anxiety, stress, and restlessness, and treat insomnia. However, it can exacerbate depression symptoms, and can also cause liver damage. If you already are suffering from liver disease, or are taking meds that increase the sensitivity of your liver, talk to you doctor before starting a kava regimen.

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    5. Yohimbe

    Yohimbe bark has a variety of uses, including treating sexual dysfunction for men and women, boosting energy for athletes, and aiding in weight loss. However, yohimbe seems to cause more problems than it is probably worth.

    Minor side effects of taking yohimbe bark include upset stomach, vomiting, irregular sleep patterns, elevated blood pressure, headaches, irritability, skin rashes, and rapid heartbeat.

    If you overindulge in this supplement, you may also face diminished respiratory function, high fever, kidney problems, and lupus-like symptoms.

    6. Echinacea

    Echinacea is a common choice for people looking to get over a common cold. It’s worth noting that echinacea shouldn’t be used for preventing a cold, but rather just for shortening the duration of cold symptoms.

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    However, people who are allergic to ragweed or daisy pollen can have a similar allergic reaction to echinacea. This herbal supplement can also cause caffeine to break down more slowly, prolonging the caffeine jitters.

    People suffering from disease like lupus, MS, or rheumatoid arthritis should also avoid echinacea, since it can interfere adversely with immune system processes in certain cases.

    Conclusion

    If you want to learn more about the side effects of common herbal supplements like the ones listed above, the National Institute of Health’s Medline Plus site is an invaluable resource.

    While herbal supplements are usually safe for most people, many supplements are not endorsed by the FDA, and women who are pregnant or nursing need to be especially careful before starting a supplement regime. Herbal supplements can be a great way to increase your productivity, but only if you can handle the side effects.

    When purchasing herbal supplements, make sure to buy them from reputable dealers. According to one doctor interviewed by PBS, some herbal supplements contain filler like grass or chamomile, and up to 30% of some herbal supplement pills on the market do not contain the main ingredient advertised on the label.

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    Tucker Cummings

    Writer and social media professional sharing productivity tips on Lifehack.

    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It? The Pomodoro Technique: Is It Right for You to Boost Productivity? How to Diagnose the “Phantom Cursor” Issue on Your Mac Extreme Minimalism: Andrew Hyde and the 15-Item Lifestyle 6 Easy Tips for Living with 100 Items or Less

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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