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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.

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    Last Updated on December 9, 2019

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

    Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

    Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

    Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

    1. Get Rationally Optimistic

    Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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    This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

    In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

    The result: no more mental stress.

    2. Unplug

    Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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    How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

    It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

    Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

    3. Easy on the Caffeine

    Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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    Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

    4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

    That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

    How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

    • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
    • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
    • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

    While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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    5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

    This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

    The result: mental stress will be gone!

    So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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