Can Herbs Influence Drug Tests?
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Michael
Posted on: January 27, 2000

I work for a company which has a drug free policy and has random drug screen testing. I have recently started taking some herbs, Aloe vera juice: 1-2 oz., mixed with some other juice, saw-palmetto, l-lysine. So my question is this: can these herbs give a positive on a test?

In recent years herbs have been blamed for positive results in sport drug testing. Some athletes have claimed that taking herbs such as ginseng can affect results.

There are two overall strategies in drug testing. One is the more simple minded approach of looking for foreign chemicals that are not normally found in the human body. Examples are alcohol and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, from marijuana). In this type of testing there is little risk that herbs can be confused with illicit drugs.

The second type of testing looks for anomalies in the levels of chemicals found naturally in the body. For example, testosterone, the male sex hormone, can be pushed far above normal physiological levels by certain steroid drugs. It is not inconceivable that some herbs can do the same thing. However, employment drug testing generally does not look for such anomalies, and instead is concerned only with the chemicals that are not naturally found in the body. We would expect, then, that employment testing should not be affected by taking herbs such as aloe vera and saw palmetto.

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