Herbs to Avoid Prior to Surgery
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Janeen
Posted on: July 19, 2004

I am an RN in a plastic and reconstructive surgeons office and have many patients who come into the office asking questions about the safety of taking their herbs and undergoing surgery. I have been looking at this web site and have found a lot of good info for the patients. My main question is are there any herbs that I should tell my patients to stop taking prior to surgery? I already ask that they not take Vitamin E greater that 400 iu per day, St. Johns wort, ASA, Ibuprofen, and if they are currently taking any herbs to ask me. But I am no expert on this and most of the pharmacists have no idea.

Most herbs can be safely taken in normal therapeutic doses before surgery, and have not been seen to cause problems. The herbs and food supplements that are generally warned against are those that have the potential to affect blood clotting or encourage bleeding, so high doses of these should be avoided prior to surgery: garlic, ginger, ginkgo, feverfew, evening primrose oil, vitamin E, fish oils, and the salicylate containing herbs black cohosh, meadowsweet, willow and the mint family. There are claims that St. John’s wort will intensify effects of anaesthetic drugs. Ginseng has been associated with high blood pressure and rapid heart beat. Most important is that patients feel comfortable telling you what herbs and supplements they have been taking.

For my own information I have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and all of my HRT has been put to a sudden stop. So now I have hot flashes and don’t wish to be on the zoloft long term. Is there some way I can use an herbal replacement to help with this?

Please see our answers to similar questions on our web site at www.richters.com. Choose "Q&A" from the main menu, then enter "breast cancer" for the search.

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