Herbal Primer. Part 2

Echinacea (Echinacea, various species). May stimulate the body’s immune system, possibly contains antibacterial and antiviral qualities. Potential effects: May aggravate auto-immune disease symptoms, therefore affecting movement capability in people with these disorders.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum). May be an effective treatment for certain types of depression and anxiety, and may produce an anti-inflammatory response in some forms. Potential effects: May cause a rise in blood pressure if combined with certain antidepressant medications. In large doses, can increase sensitivity to sunburn. Caution is warranted during outdoor physical activity.

Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens). May be useful in the treatment of a benign, enlarged prostate gland in the early stages of enlargement. Potential effects: No known negative effect on general exercise capacity found, unless it causes stomach irritation and thus impacts movement capability.

Gingko (Gingko biloba). May improve cognition, slow the progress of certain kinds of dementia and reduce blood viscosity. Potential effects: May cause an increase in migraine headaches in sensitive people and may interact with blood thinning medicine, which could result in hemodynamic changes and affect exercise capacity. In large amounts, may cause diarrhea, irritability and restlessness, potentially affecting thermoregulation and strength.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). May be useful in the treatment of migraine and rheumatological disorders. Potential effects: Long-term users sometimes report a mild tranquilizing or sedative effect, which could affect general motor skill and stamina. Also, this herb may interact with blood thinning medication (Miller, 1998), which could cause hemodynamic effects relative to general exercise capacity.

Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis). May contain anti-inflammatory properties. Some people take black currant oil (Ribes nigrum) or borage oil (Borago officinale) for their purported anti-inflammatory properties. All three oils contain an important naturally occurring fatty acid. The oils are often used in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome and eczema. Potential effects: No known negative effect on general exercise capacity found.

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