Herb Alert

Echinacea   |   Ginko   |    Ginseng   |   Kava   |   Saw Palmetto   |   St. John's Wort

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Proposed Uses

To prevent colds & flu, fight infections, and boost the immune system.



Could cause liver damage if taken with antifungal medicines (e.g., Nizoral). Since it boosts the immune system, it should not be taken by persons with autoimmune conditions (e.g., AIDS, lupus, multiple sclerosis) or who take medicines (e.g., cyclosporine) to suppress the immune system.


Proposed Uses

To improve mental function and promote circulation to the limbs.


Alternative Medicine Systems

Do not use if you take blood-thinners (e.g., aspirin, warfarin) or have a bleeding disorder.


Proposed Uses

To increase energy.


Don’t use if you take medicines for high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. Don’t use if you take MAOI medicines for depression (e.g., Nardil, Parnate). Ginseng can cause irritability when mixed with caffeine.


Proposed Uses

To treat anxiety, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, and stress.


FDA advisory links products with Kava to severe liver damage. Don’t use if you take anti-anxiety and antidepressant medicines. Don’t use with alcohol.

Saw Palmetto

Proposed Uses

To treat symptoms of an enlarged prostate.


Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

888.723.3366 or



National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

888.644.6226 or www.nccam.nih.gov


Office of Dietary Supplements



Mental Health America



Don’t self-diagnose. See a doctor. Follow his or her advice. Don’t take with medicine prescribed for an enlarged prostate.

St. John's Wort

Proposed Uses

To treat mild to moderate depression.


Should not be used with prescribed antidepressants, such as SSRIs (e.g., Zoloft, Paxil) and MAOIs (e.g., Nardil, Parnate). Makes birth control pills and some medicines for asthma, HIV, and heart disease less effective.

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