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Herbal supplements may cause dangerous drug interactions in orthopaedic surgery patients
Date:10/11/2011

Complementary and alternative medical (CAM) treatments such as herbal supplements have become increasingly popular in the United States, especially among older patients and those with chronic pain. However, many of these products can have serious and potentially harmful side effects when combined with medications prescribed during and after surgery, according to a review article in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS).

About 20 percent of prescription users also take an herbal supplement, and those rates are higher studies suggest between 35 and 70 percent among orthopaedic patients who are candidates for surgery.

"Herbal remedies are classified as dietary supplements, meaning they are exempt from the safety and efficacy regulations that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires for prescription and over-the-counter medications," said David T. Rispler, MD, director of the Grand Rapids/Michigan State University Orthopedic Residency Program. "As a result, individual herbal remedies have not been thoroughly evaluated in large clinical trials, and little information is available on the interactions between drugs and herbs."

In addition, many herbal products are marketed as "natural" or "homeopathic," which may lead consumers to assume the products are safe, even when taken with prescription medicines, Dr. Rispler noted. "Herbal supplements can have a negative impact on patients both before and following surgery, and may interact with conventional medicines used to manage chronic conditions."

"Traditional physician-patient communications, like intake interviews, often do not include the subject of alternative medical products. As a result, patients may fail to report that they are using them and continue to take them along with any prescribed medicines and before surgery, thinking the herbal products pose no risk," said Dr. Rispler.

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Contact: Kayee Ip
ip@aaos.org
847-384-4035
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Source:Eurekalert

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