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Using Alternative Medicines Safely

  • Remember that the term "natural" does not necessarily mean "safe."
  • To stay safe, always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider about the products you are taking, including:
    • Herbal remedies,
    • Non-prescription medicines, and
    • Prescription drugs.
  • This is especially important if you are taking "blood-thinning" drugs or have cancer, HIV, or other life-threatening conditions. Bring either a list or the products with you to your doctor's appointment.
  • If you are taking a prescription medication, do not take an herbal remedy or dietary supplement for the same condition without telling your doctor.
  • Only take the recommended amount listed on the label.
  • Only choose products with labels that provide:
    • Dosing advice,
    • A lot number or expiration date (avoid products that are over one year old), and
    • Manufacturer's name, address, and telephone number.
  • Store products:
    • In a cool, dry environment out of direct sunlight (not in a bathroom medicine cabinet or car's glove compartment), and
    • Away from young children and pets.
  • Herbal remedies should not be taken:
    • By children without a physician's approval,
    • By pregnant women or nursing mothers,
    • With alcohol, or
    • As a substitute for a balanced diet and proper rest.
  • Ask your hospital or health-system pharmacist if you have any questions about this or other medicines.