Gallstones, Chaparral and Effective Use of Herbs II
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Tracie
Posted on: April 1, 2002

If some of these herbs are known to cause cancer like chaparral why are they approved? I’ve been taking these herbs mixed together: ladies mantle, damiana, chaparral, anise seeds, gentian root, cinnamon bark, slippery elm bark, barberry bark, buckthorn bark, cayenne, wormwood; 6 pills a day. Now I did feel a little sick the first two days but then it seemed like it was working, not even making me hungry, and I noticed my skin get very soft. But now when I take them I don’t feel good anymore. Do you think that they stopped working? I don’t know if my gallstone is still there . Now I suffer from a mild case of hemorrhoids and my stool is very stringy and I have a hard time passing my stool even though it is stringy is there anything that could help me?

I recommend that you visit an experienced, qualified herbalist or naturopath, who can assess your needs and make safe, effective recommendations.

The use of herbs involves personal responsibility in educating oneself about herbs and the health condition. The most effective use of herbs usually involves consultation with a herbalist who is well educated on both the effects of herbs and the causes of health problems. Skillfully used, herbs are not a substitute for drugs. They are most effectively used not only to rid the body of an offending pathogen, but also to support weak body systems so that the body can maintain health, as it is designed to do.

Most herbs that are on the shelf are safe if taken in moderation, and effective if the customer has researched his or her health problem, understanding the causes of the problem and the benefits and limitations of herbs. There are many herbs that I do not generally recommend. Chaparral is banned in the United States. It may or may not have been the cause of health problems. Because there is not sufficient evidence to implicate it in health problems, and because it appears to be safe when used in a traditional way and when taken in recommended doses for limited time periods, it is not banned in other countries.

In your formula, Buckthorn is a strong laxative, and should be used only in cases of constipation, and only for a very limited time. A natural practitioner can work with you to retrain the bowel with a change in diet and eliminating the aggravating bowel stimulation by strong herbs such as Buckthorn. Wormwood can cause mental and physical health problems, and should never be taken in large doses or for long time periods. Gentian is a very strong bitter herb that can irritate the stomach. All of these herbs can be safely used by a herbalist if deemed effective, necessary and not harmful to the particular patient, as determined after a full consultation. The herbalist will usually reassess every two weeks, changing the herbal formula as required. Herbs that are skillfully recommended by a herbalist will not usually cause any signs or symptoms of ill health. If any ill effects were noticed, then the patient would be expected to immediately notify the herbalist.

For more information on Chaparral, please go to our website at, choose "Q&A" from the main menu, then choose "Medicinal Herbs and Their Uses" and search for the item "Chaparral: FDA Ban?".

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