An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure!

Whey Protein Benefits

 

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What is it?

Whey protein is the protein contained in whey, the watery portion of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese.

Whey protein is used for improving athletic performance, as a food supplement, as an alternative to milk for people with lactose intolerance, for replacing or supplementing milk-based infant formulas, and for reversing weight loss and increasing glutathione (GSH) in people with HIV disease.

Whey protein is also used for protein allergy, asthma, high cholesterol, obesity and weight loss, preventing allergies in infants, late-stage cancer, and colon cancer.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for WHEY PROTEIN are as follows:

Possibly effective for…

  • Red, itchy skin (eczema). Research shows that infants who consume whey protein by mouth during the first 3-12 months of life have a lower risk of developing red, itchy skin by the age of 3 years.
  • Prone allergies and allergic reactions (atopic disease). Research shows that infants who consume whey protein by mouth during the first 3-12 months of life are less likely to be prone to allergies and allergic reactions compared to infants who receive standard formula. However, taking why protein might not be helpful for treating atopic diseases once they develop.
  • Weight loss in people with HIV/AIDS. Some research shows that taking whey protein by mouth can help decrease weight loss in people with HIV.
  • Red, scaly skin (psoriasis). Some evidence shows that taking a specific whey protein extract (Dermylex Advitech Inc.) daily for 8 weeks can reduce psoriasis symptoms.

Possibly ineffective for…

  • Lung disease called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Taking a specific whey protein supplement (ImuPower) daily for 6 weeks can improve shortness of breath but not lung function or quality of life in people with COPD. Other research suggests that taking whey protein supplements does not improve lung function, muscle function, or exercise tolerance in people with COPD.
  • Osteoporosis. Research suggests that taking a drink containing whey protein daily for 2 years does not improve bone density in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
  • Weight loss. Most research suggests that taking whey protein alone, along with diet modifications, or while following an exercise plan does not seem to reduce weight for overweight and obese adults. However, whey protein might improve body composition in overweight adults when used along with a modified diet. In overweight teens, drinking a whey protein beverage for 12 weeks seems to increase weight and body mass index (BMI).

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Athletic performance. Some clinical research shows that taking whey protein in combination with strength training increases lean body mass, strength, and muscle size. However, other research suggests no effect of whey protein on strength or muscle mass. Taking whey protein seems to improve recovery from exercise better than carbohydrate supplements in untrained but not trained athletes.
  • Asthma. Early research suggests that taking a specific type of whey protein (HMS 90 Immunofec, Inc) daily for 30 days does not improve lung function in children with asthma.
  • Cancer. There is some evidence that taking whey protein might help reduce tumor size in some people with cancer that has spread.
  • Cystic fibrosis. Early research suggests that taking whey protein daily for 28 days improves lung function in children, but not adults with cystic fibrosis
  • Asthma caused by exercise. Early research suggests that taking whey protein daily for 10 days improves lung function in people with asthma caused by exercise.
  • Non-alcoholic liver disease (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH). Early research suggests that taking whey protein daily for 12 weeks can improve liver function in patients with NASH.
  • Hepatitis. Early research suggests that taking a specific type of whey protein (Immunocal) daily for 12 weeks can improve liver function in some people with hepatitis B. However, it does not appear to benefit people with hepatitis C.
  • HIV/AIDS. Early research suggests that taking whey protein for 4 months does not improve immune function in children with HIV.
  • High cholesterol. Early research suggests that taking whey protein daily while participating in resistance training does not reduce cholesterol levels or body fat in overweight men with high cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure. Early research suggests that drinking a beverage that contains whey protein daily for 12 weeks does not lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. However, taking hydrolyzed whey protein daily for 6 weeks can reduce blood pressure
  • Infections developed while in the hospital. Early research suggests that taking a specific whey protein supplement (Beneprotein) daily for up to 28 days has a similar effect on the rate of hospital-acquired infections as taking a combination of zinc, selenium, glutamine, and metoclopramide.
  • Inherited disorders that cause mental and developmental problems (mitochondrial myopathies). Early research suggests that taking a whey protein supplement daily for one month does not improve muscle strength or quality of life in people with mitochondrial diseases.
  • Ovarian cysts (Polycystic ovarian syndrome). Early research suggests that taking a supplement containing whey protein daily for 2 months can reduce body weight, fat mass, and cholesterol in people with ovarian cysts. However, whey protein does not improve blood sugar and seems to decrease high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol.
  • Aching and stiffness caused by inflammation (polymyalgia rheumatica). Taking whey protein in a dairy product twice daily for 8 weeks does not improve muscle function, walking speed, or other movement tests in people with polymyalgia rheumatica.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate whey protein for these uses.

How does it work?

Whey protein is a source of protein that might improve the nutrient content of the diet. Whey protein might also have effects on the immune system.

Are there safety concerns?

Whey protein is LIKELY SAFE for most children and adults when taken by mouth appropriately. High doses can cause some side effects such as increased bowel movements, nausea, thirst, bloating, cramps, reduced appetite, tiredness (fatigue), and headache.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking whey protein if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Milk allergy: If you are allergic to cow’s milk, avoid using whey protein.

Are there interactions with medications?

Major
Do not take this combination.
Levodopa
Whey protein might decrease how much levodopa the body absorbs. By decreasing how much levodopa the body absorbs, whey protein might decrease the effectiveness of levodopa. Do not take whey protein and levodopa at the same time.
Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Albendazole
Whey protein can decrease how much albendazole the body absorbs. Taking whey protein and albendazole at the same time can decrease the effectiveness of albendazole. Do not take whey protein while taking albendazole.
Alendronate (Fosamax)
Whey protein can decrease how much alendronate (Fosamax) the body absorbs. Taking whey protein and alendronate (Fosamax) at the same time can decrease the effectiveness of alendronate (Fosamax). Don’t take whey protein within two hours of taking alendronate (Fosamax).
Antibiotics (Quinolone antibiotics)
Whey protein might decrease how much antibiotic the body absorbs. Taking whey protein along with some antibiotics might decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics. To avoid this interaction take whey protein supplements at least one hour after antibiotics.

Some of these antibiotics that might interact with whey protein include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), trovafloxacin (Trovan), and grepafloxacin (Raxar).

Antibiotics (Tetracycline antibiotics)
Whey protein contains calcium. The calcium in whey protein can attach to tetracyclines in the stomach. This decreases the amount of tetracyclines that can be absorbed. Taking calcium with tetracyclines might decrease the effectiveness of tetracyclines. To avoid this interaction, take whey protein two hours before or four hours after taking tetracyclines.

Some tetracyclines include demeclocycline (Declomycin), minocycline (Minocin), and tetracycline (Achromycin).

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For improving athletic performance: 1.2-1.5 grams/kg of whey protein in combination with strength training for 6-10 weeks.
  • For HIV/AIDS-related weight loss: 8.4-84 grams of whey protein per day, or 2.4 grams/kg per day in a high-calorie formula, or 42-84 grams per day in a glutamine-enriched formula.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Exl, B. M., Deland, U., Wall, M., Preysch, U., Secretin, M. C., and Shmerling, D. H. Zug-Frauenfeld nutritional survey (“Zuff Study”): allergen-reduced nutrition in normal infant population and its healthrelated effects: results at the age of six months. Nutr Res 1998;18:1443-1462.
  2. Porch, M. C., Shahane, A., and Leiva, L. Influence of breast milk, soy or two hydrolyzed formulas on the development of allergic manifestations in infants at risk. Nutr Res 1998;18:1424.
  3. Lam, B. C. C. and Yeung, C. Y. The effect of breast milk, infant formula and hypoallergenic formula on incidence of atopic manifestation in high risk infants. 1992;
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What is it?

Willow bark is the bark from several varieties of the willow tree, including white willow or European willow, black willow or pussy willow, crack willow, purple willow, and others. The bark is used to make medicine.

Willow bark acts a lot like aspirin, so it is used for pain, including headache, muscle or joint pain, menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, gout, and a disease of the spine called ankylosing spondylitis.

Willow bark’s pain relieving potential has been recognized throughout history. Willow bark was commonly used during the time of Hippocrates, when people were advised to chew on the bark to relieve pain and fever.

Willow bark is also used for the common cold, flu, and weight loss.

Salicin, the active ingredient in willow bark, seems to have contributed to the death of the composer, Ludwig von Beethoven. Apparently, Beethoven ingested large amounts of salicin before he died. His autopsy report is the first recorded case of a particular type of kidney damage that can be caused by salicin.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for WILLOW BARK are as follows:

Possibly effective for…

  • Treating lower back pain. Willow bark seems to reduce lower back pain. Higher doses seem to be more effective than lower doses. It can take up to a week for significant improvement in symptoms.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Joint pain. Research shows that taking a specific product containing glucosamine sulfate, methylsufonlylmethane, white willow bark extract, ginger root concentrate, boswellia extract, turmeric root extract, cayenne, and hyaluronic acid (Instaflex Joint Support, Direct Digital, Charlotte, NC) in three divided doses daily for 8 weeks reduces joint pain. But this product doesn’t seem to help joint stiffness or function.
  • Weight loss. Early research suggests that taking willow bark in combination with ephedra and cola nut might cause slight weight loss in overweight and obese people. However, it is not wise to use this combination because of safety concerns about ephedra. Ephedra has been banned in the United States due to severe harmful side effects.
  • Osteoarthritis. Research on willow bark extract for osteoarthritis has produced conflicting results. Some research shows it can reduce osteoarthritis pain. In fact, there is some evidence suggesting that willow bark extract works as well as conventional medications for osteoarthritis. But other research shows no benefit.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Early research suggests that willow bark extract is not effective for rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Joint pain.
  • Treating fever.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of willow bark for these uses.

How does it work?

Willow bark contains a chemical called salicin that is similar to aspirin.

Are there safety concerns?

Willow bark is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for a short time (up to 12 weeks).

It may cause headaches, stomach upset, and digestive system upset. It can also cause itching, rash, and allergic reactions, particularly in people allergic to aspirin.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of using willow bark during pregnancy. It’s best to avoid using it.

Using willow bark while breast-feeding is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. Willow bark contains chemicals that can enter breast milk and have harmful effects on the nursing infant. Don’t use it if you are breast-feeding.

Children: Willow bark is POSSIBLY UNSAFE n children when taken by mouth for viral infections such as colds and flu. There is some concern that, like aspirin, it might increase the risk of developing Reye’s syndrome. Stay on the safe side and don’t use willow bark in children.

Bleeding disorders: Willow bark might increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders.

Kidney disease: Willow bark might reduce blood flow through the kidneys, which might lead to kidney failure in certain people. If you have kidney disease, don’t use willow bark.

Sensitivity to aspirin: People with ASTHMA, STOMACH ULCERS, DIABETES, GOUT, HEMOPHILIA, HYPOPROTHROMBINEMIA, or KIDNEY or LIVER DISEASE might be sensitive to aspirin and also willow bark. Using willow bark might cause serious allergic reactions. Avoid use.

Surgery: Willow bark might slow blood clotting. There is a concern it could cause extra bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using willow bark at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there interactions with medications?

Major
Do not take this combination.
Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Willow bark might slow blood clotting. Taking willow bark along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Acetazolamide
Willow bark contains chemicals that might increase the amount of acetazolamide in the blood. Taking willow bark along with acetazolamide might increase the effects and side effects of acetazolamide.
Aspirin
Willow bark contains chemicals similar to aspirin. Taking willow bark along with aspirin might increase the effects and side effects of aspirin.
Choline Magnesium Trisalicylate (Trilisate)
Willow bark contains chemicals that are similar to choline magnesium trisalicylate (Trilisate). Taking willow bark along with choline magnesium trisalicylate (Trilisate) might increase the effects and side effects of choline magnesium trisalicylate (Trilisate).
Salsalate (Disalcid)
Salsalate (Disalcid) is a type of medicine called a salicylate. It’s similar to aspirin. Willow bark also contains a salicylate similar to aspirin. Taking salsalate (Disalcid) along with willow bark might increase the effects and side effects of salsalate (Disalcid).

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting
Willow bark can slow blood clotting. Using it along with other herbs that can also slow blood clotting might increase the chance of bleeding and bruising in some people. These herbs include clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng, meadowsweet, red clover, and others.
Herbs that contain an aspirin-like chemical (Salicylate)
Willow bark contains a chemical that is similar to an aspirin-like chemical called salicylate. Taking willow bark along with herbs that contain salicylate may increase salicylate effects and adverse effects. Salicylate-containing herbs include aspen bark, black haw, poplar, and meadowsweet.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For back pain: Willow bark extract providing 120-240 mg salicin has been used. The higher 240 mg dose might be more effective.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Wuthold K, Germann I, Roos G, et al. Thin-layer chromatography and multivariate data analysis of willow bark extracts. J Chromatogr Sci. 2004;42:306-9. View abstract.
  2. Uehleke B, Müller J, Stange R, Kelber O, Melzer J. Willow bark extract STW 33-I in the long-term treatment of outpatients with rheumatic pain mainly osteoarthritis or back pain. Phytomedicine. 2013 Aug 15;20:980-4. View abstract.
  3. Beer AM, Wegener T. Willow bark extract (Salicis cortex) for gonarthrosis and coxarthrosis–results of a cohort study with a control group. Phytomedicine. 2008 Nov;15:907-13. View abstract.

HOW IS WILD YAM USED?

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What is it?

Wild yam is a plant. It contains a chemical, diosgenin, which can be made in the laboratory into various steroids, such as estrogen and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The root and the bulb of the plant are used as a source of diosgenin, which is prepared as an “extract,” a liquid that contains concentrated diosgenin.

There are over 600 species of wild yam. Some species are grown specifically as a source of diosgenin for laboratories to use in making steroids. These species are generally not eaten due to a bitter flavor. Only about 12 of the 600 species are considered edible.

Diosgenin or wild yam is often promoted as a “natural alterative” to estrogen therapy, so you will see it used for estrogen replacement therapy, vaginal dryness in older women, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), menstrual cramps, weak bones (osteoporosis), increasing energy and sexual drive in men and women, and breast enlargement. Wild yam does seem to have some estrogen-like activity, but it is not actually converted into estrogen in the body. It takes a laboratory to do that.

Similarly, you will also see wild yam and diosgenin promoted as a “natural DHEA.” This is because in the laboratory DHEA is made from diosgenin, but this chemical reaction is not believed to occur in the human body. So taking wild yam extract will not increase DHEA levels in people. Individuals who are interested in taking DHEA should avoid wild yam products labeled as “natural DHEA.”

Wild yam is also used for treating a disorder of the intestines called diverticulosis, gallbladder pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and for increasing energy.

Some women apply wild yam creams to the skin to reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for WILD YAM are as follows:

Possibly ineffective for…

  • Menopausal symptoms. Applying wild yam cream to the skin for 3 months does not seem to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats. It also does not seem to affect levels of hormones such as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, or progesterone, which play a role in menopause.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Use as a natural alternative to estrogens.
  • Postmenopausal vaginal dryness.
  • PMS (Premenstrual syndrome).
  • Weak bones (osteoporosis).
  • Increasing energy and sexual desire in men and women.
  • Gallbladder problems.
  • Painful menstrual periods.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Infertility.
  • Menstrual disorders.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of wild yam for these uses.

How does it work?

Wild yam contains a chemical that can be made into various steroids, such as estrogen, in the laboratory. However, the body can’t change wild yam to estrogen.

Are there safety concerns?

Wild yam is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Large amounts can cause vomiting.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking wild yam if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Wild yam might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, do not use wild yam.

Protein S deficiency: People with protein S deficiency have an increased risk of forming clots. There is some concern that wild yam might increase the risk of clot formation in these people because it might act like estrogen. There is one case report of a patient with protein S deficiency and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who developed a clot in the vein serving the retina in her eye 3 days after taking a combination product containing wild yam, dong quai, red clover, and black cohosh. If you have protein S deficiency, it is best to avoid using wild yam until more is known.

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Estrogens
Wild yam might have some of the same effects as estrogen. Taking wild yam along with estrogen pills might decrease the effects of estrogen pills.

Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.

 

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of wild yam depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for wild yam. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Hudson t, Standish L, Breed C, and et al. Clinical and endocrinological effects of a menopausal botanical formula. Journal of Naturopathic Medicine 1997;7:73-77.
  2. Zagoya JCD, Laguna J, and Guzman-Garcia J. Studies on the regulation of cholesterol metabolism by the use of structural analogue, diosgenin. Biochemical Pharmacology 1971;20:3471-3480.
  3. Datta K, Datta SK, and Datta PC. Pharmacognostic evaluation of potential yams Dioscorea. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 1984;5:181-196.
  4. Araghiniknam M, Chung S, Nelson-White T, and et al. Antioxidant activity of Dioscorea and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in older humans. Life Sciences 1996;59:L147-L157.

Yerba Mate Tea

 

Mate is a plant. The leaves are used to make medicine.

Mate is used as a stimulant to relieve mental and physical tiredness (fatigue), as well as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). It is also used for heart-related complaints including heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and low blood pressure.

Some people use mate to improve mood and depression; to relieve headache and joint pains; to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), and bladder and kidney stones; for weight loss; and as a laxative.

In foods, mate is used to make a tea-like beverage, known as maté or Yerba Maté, which is very popular in Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for YERBA MATE are as follows:

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Mental function. Early research suggests that drinking a beverage containing yerbe mate does not affect mental performance in healthy females.
  • Diabetes. Early research suggests that drinking yerba mate tea three times daily for 60 days can lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.
  • High lipid (fat) levels in the blood. Early research suggests that drinking tea containing yerba mate three times daily for 40 days can lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol in people with high levels of lipids (fats) in the blood. Also, drinking yerba mate tea appeasr to reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good”) cholesterol in people with high cholesterol who are also taking statin drugs.
  • Obesity. Early research shows that taking yerba mate by mouth might cause weight loss when used in combination with guarana and damiana.
  • Osteoporosis. Drinking a traditional yerba mate tea daily might reduce the rate of bone loss in postmenopausal women.
  • Prediabetes. Early research suggests that drinking yerba mate tea three times daily for 60 days does not reduce blood sugar before eating in people with prediabetes. However, it might reduce glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), a measure of average blood sugar.
  • Constipation.
  • Depression.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  • Heart conditions.
  • Kidney and bladder stones.
  • Mental and physical tiredness (fatigue).
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
  • Fluid retention.
  • Headaches.
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension).
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of yerba mate for these uses.

How does it work?

Mate contains caffeine and other chemicals which stimulate the brain, heart, muscles lining blood vessels, and other parts of the body.

Are there safety concerns?

Yerba mate is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people, when taken by mouth for short periods of time. It contains caffeine, which can cause some side effects such as inability to sleep (insomnia), nervousness and restlessness, stomach upset, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate and breathing, high blood pressure, headache, ringing in the ears, irregular heartbeats, and other side effects.

When taken in large amounts or for long periods of time, yerba mate is POSSIBLY UNSAFE. It increases the risk of mouth, esophageal, laryngeal, kidney, bladder, and lung cancer. This risk is especially high for people who smoke or drink alcohol.

When taken in very large amounts, yerba mate is LIKELY UNSAFE, due to its caffeine content.

Special precautions & warnings:

Children: Yerba mate is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for children when taken by mouth. Yerba mate is linked with an increased risk of mouth cancer, esophageal cancer, laryngeal cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and lung cancer.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Yerba mate is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. One concern is that using yerba mate seems to increase the risk of getting cancer. It’s not known whether that risk is transferred to the developing fetus. Another concern is the caffeine content of yerba mate. Caffeine crosses the placenta and enters the fetus’ bloodstream, producing caffeine levels in the fetus that resemble the caffeine level in the mother. In general, mothers should avoid consuming more than 200 mg of caffeine daily; that’s about 2 cups of coffee or tea. Infants born to mothers who consume a lot of caffeine during pregnancy sometimes show symptoms of caffeine withdrawal after birth. High doses of caffeine have also been linked with miscarriage, premature delivery, and low birth weight. However, researchers studied mothers who drank yerba mate tea during pregnancy and found no strong link between drinking yerba mate and premature delivery or small birth weight. But this study has been criticized because it did not consider the amount of yerba mate or caffeine used by the mothers; it looked only at how often they used yerba mate.

Yerba mate is also POSSIBLY UNSAFE during breast-feeding. It is not known whether the cancer-causing chemicals in yerba mate pass into breast milk, but that is a concern. The caffeine in yerba mate is also a problem. It might cause irritability and increased bowel movements in nursing infants.

Alcoholism: Heavy alcohol use combined with long-term yerba mate use increases the risk of cancer from 3-fold to 7-fold.

Anxiety disorders: The caffeine in yerba mate might make anxiety disorders worse.

Bleeding disorders: Caffeine might slow clotting. As a result, there is a concern that the caffeine in yerba mate might make bleeding disorders worse. But so far, this effect has not been reported in people.

Heart conditions: Caffeine in yerba mate can cause irregular heartbeats in certain people. If you have a heart condition, discuss using yerba mate with your healthcare provider.

Diabetes: Some research suggests that the caffeine in yerba mate may affect the way people with diabetes process sugar and may complicate blood sugar control. There is also some interesting research that suggests caffeine may make the warning symptoms of low blood sugar in people with type 1 diabetes more noticeable. Some studies show that the symptoms of low blood sugar are more intense when they start in the absence of caffeine, but as low blood sugar continues, symptoms are greater with caffeine. This might increase the ability of people with diabetes to detect and treat low blood sugar. However, the downside is that caffeine might actually increase the number of low-sugar episodes. If you have diabetes, talk with your healthcare provider before using yerba mate.

Diarrhea. Yerba mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in yerba mate, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Yerba mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in yerba mate, especially when taken in large amounts, can worsen diarrhea and might worsen symptoms of IBS.

Glaucoma: Using yerba mate increases the pressure inside the eye due to the caffeine it contains. The increase in pressure occurs within 30 minutes and lasts for at least 90 minutes. If you have glaucoma, discuss your use of yerba mate with your healthcare provider.

High blood pressure: The caffeine in yerba mate might increase blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. Consuming 250 mg of caffeine can increase blood pressure in healthy people, but this doesn’t seem to happen in people who use caffeine all the time.

Weak bones (osteoporosis): Some researchers have found that postmenopausal women who drink a liter or more daily of a traditional South American yerba mate tea have higher bone density. However, the caffeine in yerba mate tends to flush calcium out of the body in the urine. This can contribute to weak bones. For this reason, many experts recommend that caffeine intake be limited to less than 300 mg per day (approximately 2-3 cups of yerba mate). Taking extra calcium may help to make up for the calcium that is flushed out.

There are some women who are at special risk for weak bones. These women have an inherited condition that makes it hard for them to use vitamin D properly. Vitamin D works with calcium to build strong bones. These women should be especially careful to limit the amount of caffeine they get from yerba mate as well as other sources.

Smoking: The risk of getting cancer is 3 to 7 times higher in people who smoke and use yerba mate for long periods of time.

Are there interactions with medications?

Major
Do not take this combination.
Amphetamines
Stimulant drugs such as amphetamines speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in yerba mate might also speed up the nervous system. Taking yerba mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with yerba mate.
Cocaine
Stimulant drugs such as cocaine speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in yerba mate might also speed up the nervous system. Taking yerba mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with yerba mate.
Ephedrine
Stimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. Caffeine (contained in yerba mate) and ephedrine are both stimulant drugs. Taking caffeine along with ephedrine might cause too much stimulation and sometimes serious side effects and heart problems. Do not take caffeine-containing products and ephedrine at the same time.
Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Adenosine (Adenocard)
Yerba mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in yerba mate might block the effects of adenosine (Adenocard). Adenosine (Adenocard) is often used by doctors to do a test on the heart. This test is called a cardiac stress test. Stop consuming yerba mate or other caffeine-containing products at least 24 hours before a cardiac stress test.
Antibiotics (Quinolone antibiotics)
The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Some antibiotics might decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking these antibiotics along with yerba mate can increase the risk of side effects including jitteriness, headache, increased heart rate, and other side effects.

Some antibiotics that decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine include ciprofloxacin (Cipro), enoxacin (Penetrex), norfloxacin (Chibroxin, Noroxin), sparfloxacin (Zagam), trovafloxacin (Trovan), and grepafloxacin (Raxar).

Cimetidine (Tagamet)
Yerba mate contains caffeine. The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Cimetidine (Tagamet) can decrease how quickly your body breaks down caffeine. Taking cimetidine (Tagamet) along with yerba mate might increase the chance of caffeine side effects including jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and others.
Clozapine (Clozaril)
The body breaks down clozapine (Clozaril) to get rid of it. The caffeine in yerba mate seems to decrease how quickly the body breaks down clozapine (Clozaril). Taking yerba mate along with clozapine (Clozaril) can increase the effects and side effects of clozapine (Clozaril).
Dipyridamole (Persantine)
Yerba mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in yerba mate might block the effects of dipyridamole (Persantine). Dipyridamole (Persantine) is often used by doctors to do a test on the heart. This test is called a cardiac stress test. Stop consuming yerba mate or other caffeine-containing products at least 24 hours before a cardiac stress test.
Disulfiram (Antabuse)
The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Disulfiram (Antabuse) can decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine. Taking yerba mate (which contains caffeine) along with disulfiram (Antabuse) might increase the effects and side effects of caffeine including jitteriness, hyperactivity, irritability, and others.
Estrogens
The body breaks down caffeine (contained in yerba mate) to get rid of it. Estrogens can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Decreasing the breakdown of caffeine can cause jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and other side effects. If you take estrogens, limit your caffeine intake.

Some estrogen pills include conjugated equine estrogens (Premarin), ethinyl estradiol, estradiol, and others.

Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
The body breaks down the caffeine in yerba mate to get rid of it. Fluvoxamine (Luvox) can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking yerba mate along with fluvoxamine (Luvox) might cause too much caffeine in the body, and increase the effects and side effects of yerba mate.
Lithium
Your body naturally gets rid of lithium. The caffeine in yerba mate can increase how quickly your body gets rid of lithium. If you take products that contain caffeine and you take lithium, stop taking caffeine products slowly. Stopping yerba mate too quickly can increase the side effects of lithium.
Medications for asthma (Beta-adrenergic agonists)
Yerba mate contains caffeine. Caffeine can stimulate the heart. Some medications for asthma can also stimulate the heart. Taking caffeine with some medications for asthma might cause too much stimulation and cause heart problems.

Some medications for asthma include albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin, Volmax), metaproterenol (Alupent), terbutaline (Bricanyl, Brethine), and isoproterenol (Isuprel).

Medications for depression (MAOIs)
The caffeine in yerba mate can stimulate the body. Some medications used for depression can also stimulate the body. Drinking yerba mate and taking some medications for depression might cause too much stimulation to the body and serious side effects including fast heartbeat, high blood pressure, nervousness, and others could occur.

Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)
Yerba mate contains caffeine. Caffeine might slow blood clotting. Taking yerba mate along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Nicotine
Stimulant drugs such as nicotine speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and increase your heart rate. The caffeine in yerba mate might also speed up the nervous system. Taking yerba mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with yerba mate.
Pentobarbital (Nembutal)
The stimulant effects of the caffeine in yerba mate can block the sleep-producing effects of pentobarbital.
Phenylpropanolamine
Yerba mate contains caffeine. Caffeine can stimulate the body. Phenylpropanolamine can also stimulate the body. Taking yerba mate and phenylpropanolamine together might cause too much stimulation and increase heartbeat and blood pressure and cause nervousness.
Riluzole (Rilutek)
The body breaks down riluzole (Rilutek) to get rid of it. Taking yerba mate can decrease how fast the body breaks down riluzole (Rilutek) and increase the effects and side effects of riluzole.
Stimulant drugs
Stimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and speed up your heartbeat. The caffeine in yerba mate can also speed up the nervous system. Consuming yerba mate along with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with yerba mate.

Some stimulant drugs include diethylpropion (Tenuate), epinephrine, phentermine (Ionamin), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and many others.

Theophylline
Yerba mate contains caffeine. Caffeine works similarly to theophylline. Caffeine can also decrease how quickly the body gets rid of theophylline. Taking yerba mate along with theophylline might increase the effects and side effects of theophylline.
Verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan)
The body breaks down the caffeine in yerba mate to get rid of it. Verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) can decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine. Drinking yerba mate and taking verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan) can increase the risk of side effects for caffeine including jitteriness, headache, and an increased heartbeat.
Minor
Be watchful with this combination.
Alcohol
The body breaks down the caffeine in yerba mate to get rid of it. Alcohol can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking yerba mate along with alcohol might cause too much caffeine in the bloodstream and caffeine side effects including jitteriness, headache, and fast heartbeat.
Birth control pills (Contraceptive drugs)
The body breaks down the caffeine in yerba mate to get rid of it. Birth control pills can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking yerba mate along with birth control pills can cause jitteriness, headache, fast heartbeat, and other side effects.

Some birth control pills include ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel (Triphasil), ethinyl estradiol and norethindrone (Ortho-Novum 1/35, Ortho-Novum 7/7/7), and others.

Fluconazole (Diflucan)
Yerba mate contains caffeine. The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Fluconazole (Diflucan) might decrease how quickly the body gets rid of caffeine. This could cause caffeine to stay in the body too long and increase the risk of side effects such as nervousness, anxiety, and insomnia.
Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)
Diabetes medications are used to lower blood sugar. Yerba mate contains caffeine. Reports claim that caffeine might increase or decrease blood sugar. Yerba mate might interfere with blood sugar control and decrease the effectiveness of diabetes medications. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Mexiletine (Mexitil)
Yerba mate contains caffeine. The body breaks down caffeine to get rid of it. Mexiletine (Mexitil) can decrease how quickly the body breaks down caffeine. Taking Mexiletine (Mexitil) along with yerba mate might increase the caffeine effects and side effects of yerba mate.
Terbinafine (Lamisil)
The body breaks down caffeine (contained in yerba mate) to get rid of it. Terbinafine (Lamisil) can decrease how fast the body gets rid of caffeine and increase the risk of side effects including jitteriness, headache, increased heartbeat, and other effects.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Bitter orange
Do not use yerba mate with bitter orange. The combination might overstimulate the body, resulting in increased blood pressure and heart rate, even in people with normal blood pressure.
Calcium
The caffeine in yerba mate tends to increase the body’s elimination of calcium. If you use a lot of yerba mate, ask your healthcare provider if you should take additional calcium to help make up for the calcium that is lost in the urine.
Creatine
There is some concern that combining caffeine, a chemical found in yerba mate, with ephedra and creatine might increase the risk of serious harmful health effects. One athlete who took 6 grams of creatine monohydrate, 400-600 mg of caffeine, 40-60 mg of ephedra, and a variety of other supplements daily for 6 weeks had a stroke. Caffeine might also decrease creatine’s ability to improve athletic performance.
Ephedra (Ma huang)
Don’t use yerba mate with ephedra. This combination can overstimulate the body and increase the risk of serious life-threatening or disabling conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and seizures. This combination can also cause death.
Herbs and supplements that contain caffeine
Yerba mate contains caffeine. Using it along with other herbs or supplements that also contain caffeine might increase the risk of caffeine-related side effects. Other natural products that contain caffeine include cocoa, coffee, cola nut, black tea, oolong tea, and guarana.
Herbs and supplements that slow blood clotting
Yerba mate might slow blood clotting. Using it along with other herbs or supplements that have this same effect might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in some people. Some of these herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, and others.
Magnesium
Yerba mate contains caffeine. The caffeine in yerba mate might increase how much magnesium is released in the urine.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The appropriate dose of mate depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for mate. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

Chimarrao, Green Mate, Hervea, Ilex, Ilex paraguariensis, Jesuit’s Brazil Tea, Jesuit’s Tea, Maté, Maté Folium, Paraguay Tea, St. Bartholemew’s Tea, Thé de Saint Barthélémy, Thé des Jésuites, Thé du Brésil, Thé du Paraguay, Yerbamate, Yerba Mate, Yerba Maté.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Meyer, K. and Ball, P. Psychological and Cardiovascular Effects of Guarana and Yerba Mate: A Comparison with Coffee. Revista Interamericana de Psicologia 2004;38:87-94.
  2. Muccillo Baisch, A. L., Johnston, K. B., and Paganini Stein, F. L. Endothelium-dependent vasorelaxing activity of aqueous extracts of Ilex paraguariensis on mesenteric arterial bed of rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1998;60:133-139. View abstract.
  3. Vera, Garcia R., Basualdo, I., Peralta, I., de, Herebia M., and Caballero, S. Minerals content of Paraguayan yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis, S.H.). Arch.Latinoam.Nutr. 1997;47:77-80. View abstract.

How does 5 HTP WORK?

 

What is it?

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a chemical by-product of the protein building block L-tryptophan. It is also produced commercially from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia 5-HTP is used for sleep disorders such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, migraine and tension-type headaches, fibromyalgia, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seizure disorder, and Parkinson’s disease..

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for 5-HTP are as follows:

Possibly effective for…

  • Depression. Some clinical research shows that taking 5-HTP by mouth improve symptoms of depression in some people. Some clinical research shows that taking 5-HTP by mouth might be as beneficial as certain prescription antidepressant drugs for improving depression symptoms. In most studies, 150-800 mg daily of 5-HTP was taken. In some cases, higher doses have been used.

Possibly ineffective for…

  • Down syndrome. Some research shows that giving 5-HTP to infants with Down syndrome might improve muscle and activity. Other research shows that it does not improve muscle or development when taken from infancy until 3-4 years of age. Research also shows that taking 5-HTP along with conventional prescription drugs does improve development, social skills, or language skills.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for…

  • Alcoholism. Early research shows that taking 5-HTP with D-phenylalanine and L-glutamine for 40 days can reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms. However, taking 5-HTP with carbidopa daily for one year does not seem to help people stop drinking. The effect of 5-HTP alone for alcoholism is not clear.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. Early research suggests that taking 5-HTP by mouth does not help symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Anxiety. Evidence on the effects of 5-HTP for anxiety is unclear. Early research shows that taking 25-150 mg of 5-HTP by mouth daily along with carbidopa seems to reduce anxiety symptoms in people with anxiety disorders. However, other early research shows that taking higher doses of 5-HTP, 225 mg daily or more, seems to make anxiety worse. Also, taking 60 mg of 5-HTP daily through the vein does not reduce anxiety in people with panic disorders.
  • Nervous system disorder (Cerebellar ataxia). Evidence on the use of 5-HTP for cerebellar ataxia is unclear. Early evidence shows that taking 5 mg/kg of 5-HTP daily for 4 months can decrease nervous system dysfunction. However, other research shows that taking 5-HTP daily for up to one year does not improve symptoms of cerebellar ataxia.
  • Fibromyalgia. Early research suggests that taking 100 mg of 5-HTP by mouth three times daily for 30-90 days might improve pain, tenderness, sleep, anxiety, fatigue, and morning stiffness in people with fibromyalgia.
  • Menopausal symptoms. Early research suggests that taking 150 mg of 5-HTP daily for 4 weeks does not reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women.
  • Migraine headache. Evidence on the effects of 5-HTP for the prevention or treatment of migraines in adults is unclear. Some studies show that taking 5-HTP daily does not reduce migraines, while other studies show that it might be as beneficial as prescription drugs. 5-HTP does not seem to reduce migraines in children.
  • Obesity. Early research suggests that taking 5-HTP might help reduce appetite, caloric intake, and weight in obese people. Other research suggests that using a specific mouth spray containing 5-HTP and other extracts (5-HTP-Nat Exts, Medestea Biotech S.p.a., Torino, Italy) for 4 weeks increases weight loss by about 41% in overweight postmenopausal women.
  • Parkinson’s disease. Early research shows that taking 100-150 mg of 5-HTP by mouth daily with conventional drugs seems to reduce shaking, but these benefits only continue for up to 5 months. Taking larger doses of 5-HTP, 275-1500 mg daily along with carbidopa seems to worsen symptoms.
  • Schizophrenia. Early research suggests that taking 800 mg to 6 grams of 5-HTP daily with carbidopa for 90 days might improve schizophrenia symptoms in some young men.
  • Tension headache. Early research suggests that taking 100 mg of 5-HTP three times daily for 8 weeks does not reduce pain or the length of tension headaches.
  • Heroin withdrawal symptoms. Early research suggests that taking 200 mg of 5-HTP daily for 6 days together with tyrosine, phosphatidylcholine, and L-glutamine, might reduce insomnia and withdrawal symptoms in recovering heroin addicts.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Insomnia.
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Ramsey-Hunt syndrome.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of 5-HTP for these uses.

 

How does it work?

5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.

Are there safety concerns?

5-HTP is POSSIBLY SAFE when taking by mouth appropriately. 5-HTP has been used safely in doses up to 400 mg daily for up to one year. However, some people who have taken it have developed a condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS), a serious condition involving extreme muscle tenderness (myalgia) and blood abnormalities (eosinophilia). Some people think EMS might be caused by an accidental ingredient or contaminant in some 5-HTP products. However, there is not enough scientific evidence to know if EMS is caused by 5-HTP, a contaminant, or some other factor. Until more is known, 5-HTP should be used cautiously.

Other potential side effects of 5-HTP include heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, sexual problems, and muscle problems.

5-HTP is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in large doses. Doses from 6-10 grams daily have been linked to severe stomach problems and muscle spasms.

Special precautions & warnings:

Children: 5-HTP is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately. Doses of up to 5 mg/kg daily have been used safely for up to 3 years in infants and children up to 12 years-old. As with adults, there is also concern about the potential for eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) in children, a serious condition involving extreme muscle tenderness (myalgia) and blood abnormalities (eosinophilia).

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking 5-HTP if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Surgery: 5-HTP can affect a brain chemical called serotonin. Some drugs administered during surgery can also affect serotonin. Taking 5-HTP before surgery might cause too much serotonin in the brain and can result in serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Tell patients to stop taking 5-HTP at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Are there interactions with medications?

Major
Do not take this combination.
Medications for depression (Antidepressant drugs)
5-HTP increases a brain chemical called serotonin. Some medications for depression also increase serotonin. Taking 5-HTP along with these medications for depression might increase serotonin too much and cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take 5-HTP if you are taking medications for depression.

Some of these medications for depression include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), imipramine (Tofranil), and others.

Medications for depression (MAOIs)
5-HTP increases a chemical in the brain. This chemical is called serotonin. Some medications used for depression also increase serotonin. Taking 5-HTP with these medications used for depression might cause there to be too much serotonin. This could cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.

Some of these medications used for depression include phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and others.

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Carbidopa (Lodosyn)
5-HTP can affect the brain. Carbidopa (Lodosyn) can also affect the brain. Taking 5-HTP along with carbidopa can increase the risk of serious side effects including rapid speech, anxiety, aggressiveness, and others.
Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others)
5-HTP can affect a brain chemical called serotonin. Dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) can also affect serotonin. Taking 5-HTP along with dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, others) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and can result in serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take 5-HTP if you are taking dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM, and others).
Meperidine (Demerol)
5-HTP increases a chemical in the brain called serotonin. Meperidine (Demerol) can also increase serotonin in the brain. Taking 5-HTP along with meperidine (Demerol) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety.
Pentazocine (Talwin)
5-HTP increases a brain chemical called serotonin. Pentazocine (Talwin) also increases serotonin. Taking 5-HTP along with pentazocine (Talwin) might increase serotonin too much. This might cause serious side effects including heart problems, shivering, and anxiety. Do not take 5-HTP if you are taking pentazocine (Talwin).
Sedative medications (CNS depressants)
5-HTP might cause sleepiness and drowsiness. Medications that cause sleepiness are called sedatives. Taking 5-HTP along with sedative medications might cause too much sleepiness.

Some sedative medications include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), phenobarbital (Donnatal), zolpidem (Ambien), and others.

Tramadol (Ultram)
5-HTP increases a brain chemical called serotonin. Tramadol (Ultram) can also increase serotonin. Taking 5-HTP along with tramadol (Ultram) might cause too much serotonin in the brain and might result in side effects including confusion, shivering, stiff muscles, and others.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Herbs and supplements with sedative properties
5-HTP can cause sleepiness or drowsiness. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that have the same effect might cause too much sleepiness. Some of these herbs and supplements include calamus, California poppy, catnip, hops, Jamaican dogwood, kava, St. John’s wort, skullcap, valerian, yerba mansa, and others.
Herbs and supplements with serotonergic properties
5-HTP increases a brain chemical called serotonin. Taking 5-HTP along with other herbs and supplements that increase serotonin might lead to too much serotonin and cause side effects including heart problems, shivering and anxiety. Other herbs and supplements that increase serotonin levels include Hawaiian baby woodrose, L-tryptophan, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), and St. John’s wort.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:ADULT

BY MOUTH:

  • For depression: Most commonly, 150-800 mg daily is taken for 2-6 weeks. These doses are sometimes divided up and administered as 50 mg to 100 mg three times a day. Sometimes the dose starts out low and steadily increases every 1-2 weeks until a target dose is reached. Less commonly, higher doses are used. In one study, the dose is steadily increased up to 3 grams per day.

Other names

2-Amino-3-(5-Hydroxy-1H-Indol-3-yl)Propanoic Acid, 5 Hydroxy-Tryptophan, 5 Hydroxy-Tryptophane, 5-Hydroxytryptophan, 5-Hydroxytryptophane, 5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophan, 5-Hydroxy L-Tryptophane, 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan, 5-L-Hydroxytryptophan, L-5 HTP, L-5-Hydroxytryptophan, L-5-Hydroxytryptophane, Oxitriptan.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

  1. Michelson D, Page SW, Casey R, et al. An eosinophilia-myaligia syndrome related disorder associated with exposure to l-5-hydroxytryptophan. J Rheumatol 1994;21:2261-5. View abstract.
  2. Lemaire PA, Adosraku RK. An HPLC method for the direct assay of the serotonin precursor, 5-hydroxytrophan, in seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia. Phytochem Anal 2002;13:333-7.View abstract.
  3. Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, Faliva M, Bucci M, Perna S. Relationship between the absorption of 5-hydroxytryptophan from an integrated diet, by means of Griffonia simplicifolia extract, and the effect on satiety in overweight females after oral spray administration. Eat Weight Disord 2012;17:e22-8. View abstract

ZINC BENEFITS

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What is zinc and what does it do?

Zinc is a nutrient that people need to stay healthy. Zinc is found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. During pregnancy, infancy, and childhood, the body needs zinc to grow and develop properly. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for proper senses of taste and smell.

How much zinc do I need?

The amount of zinc you need each day depends on your age. Average daily recommended amounts for different ages are listed below in milligrams (mg):

Life Stage                                                                                      Recommended Amount

Birth to 6 months                                                                                         2 mg

Infants 7–12 months                                                                                    3 mg

Children 1–3 years                                                                                        3 mg

Children 4–8 years                                                                                         5 mg

Children 9–13 years                                                                                       8 mg

Teens 14–18 years (boys)                                                                               11 mg

Teens 14–18 years (girls)                                                                                9 mg

Adults (men)                                                                                                     11 mg

Adults (women)                                                                                                8 mg

Pregnant teens                                                                                                  12 mg

Pregnant women                                                                                               11 mg

Breastfeeding teens                                                                                           13 mg

Breastfeeding women                                                                                       12 mg

What foods provide zinc?

Zinc is found in a wide variety of foods. You can get recommended amounts of zinc by eating a variety of foods including the following:

  • Oysters, which are the best source of zinc.
  • Red meat, poultry, seafood such as crab and lobsters, and fortified breakfast cereals, which are also good sources of zinc.
  • Beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products, which provide some zinc.

What kinds of zinc dietary supplements are available?

Zinc is present in almost all multivitamin/mineral dietary supplements. It is also available alone or combined with calciummagnesium or other ingredients in dietary supplements. Dietary supplements can have several different forms of zinc including zinc gluconate, zinc sulfate and zinc acetate. It is not clear whether one form is better than the others.

Zinc is also found in some oral over-the-counter products, including those labeled as homeopathic medications for colds. Use of nasal sprays and gels that contain zinc has been associated with the loss of the sense of smell, in some cases long-lasting or permanent. Currently, these safety concerns have not been found to be associated with oral products containing zinc, such as cold lozenges.

Zinc is also present in some denture adhesive creams. Using large amounts of these products, well beyond recommended levels, could lead to excessive zinc intake and copper deficiency. This can cause neurological problems, including numbness and weakness in the arms and legs.

Am I getting enough zinc?

Most people in the United States get enough zinc from the foods they eat.

However, certain groups of people are more likely than others to have trouble getting enough zinc:

  • People who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. These conditions can both decrease the amount of zinc that the body absorbs and increase the amount lost in the urine.
  • Vegetarians because they do not eat meat, which is a good source of zinc. Also, the beans and grains they typically eat have compounds that keep zinc from being fully absorbed by the body. For this reason, vegetarians might need to eat as much as 50% more zinc than the recommended amounts.
  • Older infants who are breastfed because breast milk does not have enough zinc for infants over 6 months of age. Older infants who do not take formula should be given foods that have zinc such as pureed meats. Formula-fed infants get enough zinc from infant formula.
  • Alcoholics because alcoholic beverages decrease the amount of zinc that the body absorbs and increase the amount lost in the urine. Also, many alcoholics eat a limited amount and variety of food, so they may not get enough zinc.
  • People with sickle cell disease because they might need more zinc.

What happens if I don’t get enough zinc?

Zinc deficiency is rare in North America. It causes slow growth in infants and children, delayed sexual development in adolescents and impotence in men. Zinc deficiency also causes hair loss, diarrhea, eye and skin sores and loss of appetite. Weight loss, problems with wound healing, decreased ability to taste food, and lower alertness levels can also occur.

Many of these symptoms can be signs of problems other than zinc deficiency. If you have these symptoms, your doctor can help determine whether you might have a zinc deficiency.

What are some effects of zinc on health?

Scientists are studying zinc to learn about its effects on the immune system (the body’s defense system against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders). Scientists are also researching possible connections between zinc and the health problems discussed below.

Immune system and wound healing

The body’s immune system needs zinc to do its job. Older people and children in developing countries who have low levels of zinc might have a higher risk of getting pneumonia and other infections. Zinc also helps the skin stay healthy. Some people who have skin ulcers might benefit from zinc dietary supplements, but only if they have low levels of zinc.

Diarrhea

Children in developing countries often die from diarrhea. Studies show that zinc dietary supplements help reduce the symptoms and duration of diarrhea in these children, many of whom are zinc deficient or otherwise malnourished. The World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that children with diarrhea take zinc for 10–14 days (20 mg/day, or 10 mg/day for infants under 6 months). It is not clear whether zinc dietary supplements can help treat diarrhea in children who get enough zinc, such as most children in the United States.

The common cold

Some studies suggest that zinc lozenges or syrup (but not zinc dietary supplements in pill form) help speed recovery from the common cold and reduce its symptoms if taken within 24 hours of coming down with a cold. However, more study is needed to determine the best dose and form of zinc, as well as how long it should be taken before zinc can be recommended as a treatment for the common cold.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

AMD is an eye disease that gradually causes vision loss. Research suggests that zinc might help slow AMD progression. In a large study among older people with AMD who were at high risk of developing advanced AMD, those who took a daily dietary supplement with 80 mg zinc, 500 mg vitamin C, 400 IU vitamin E, 15 mg beta-carotene, and 2 mg copper for about 6 years had a lower chance of developing advanced AMD and less vision loss than those who did not take the dietary supplement. In the same study, people at high risk of the disease who took dietary supplements containing only zinc also had a lower risk of getting advanced AMD than those who did not take zinc dietary supplements. People who have or are developing the disease might want to talk with their doctor about taking dietary supplements.

Can zinc be harmful?

Yes, if you get too much. Signs of too much zinc include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. When people take too much zinc for a long time, they sometimes have problems such as low copper levels, lower immunity, and low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).

The upper limits for zinc are listed below. These levels do not apply to people who are taking zinc for medical reasons under the care of a doctor:

Life Stage Upper Limit
Birth to 6 months 4 mg
Infants 7–12 months 5 mg
Children 1–3 years 7 mg
Children 4–8 years 12 mg
Children 9–13 years 23 mg
Teens 14–18 years 34 mg
Adults 40 mg

Are there any interactions with zinc that I should know about?

Yes. Zinc dietary supplements can interact or interfere with medicines that you take and, in some cases, medicines can lower zinc levels in the body. Here are several examples:

  • Taking a zinc dietary supplement along with quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics (such as Cipro®, Achromycin®, and Sumycin®) reduces the amount of both zinc and the antibiotic that the body absorbs. Taking the antibiotic at least 2 hours before or 4–6 hours after taking a zinc dietary supplement helps minimize this effect.
  • Zinc dietary supplements can reduce the amount of penicillamine (a drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis) that the body absorbs. They also make penicillamine work less well. Taking zinc dietary supplements at least 2 hours before or after taking penicillamine helps minimize this effect.
  • Thiazide diuretics, such as chlorthalidone (brand name Hygroton®) and hydrochlorothiazide (brand names Esidrix® and HydroDIURIL®) increase the amount of zinc lost in the urine. Taking thiazide diuretics for a long time could decrease the amount of zinc in the body.

Tell your doctor, pharmacist, and other health care providers about any dietary supplements and medicines you take. They can tell you if those dietary supplements might interact or interfere with your prescription or over-the-counter medicines or if the medicines might interfere with how your body absorbs, uses, or breaks down nutrients.

Zinc and healthful eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food, advises the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and other substances that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may provide nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts. For more information about building a healthy diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal link disclaimer and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlateexternal link disclaimer.

Where can I find out more about zinc?

Disclaimer

This fact sheet by the Office of Dietary Supplements provides information that should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health. Any mention in this publication of a specific brand name is not an endorsement of the product.

Updated: February 17, 2016

The Herb Hawthorn

Background

  • Hawthorn is a flowering shrub or tree of the rose family. It is native to Europe and grows in temperate regions throughout the world.
  • Historically, hawthorn has been used for heart disease as well as for digestive and kidney problems. It has also been used for anxiety.
  • Extracts from the hawthorn leaf, flower, or berry may be sold as capsules, tablets, or liquids.

How Much Do We Know?

  • Hawthorn has been studied for heart failure in people. Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can’t pump as much blood as it should.
  • Not much is known about hawthorn for any other health conditions as there is little or no evidence.

What Have We Learned?

  • Although some older, short-term studies suggested that hawthorn may have benefits in patients with heart failure, two longer term studies completed in 2008 and 2009—including a 2-year trial involving almost 2,700 people in 13 European countries—did not confirm these benefits. In these studies, unlike some of the older ones, patients were given hawthorn in addition to the recommended conventional treatments for heart failure.

What Do We Know About Safety?

  • In most studies of hawthorn for heart failure, no serious safety problems have been reported. However, in one study, patients taking hawthorn were more likely than those taking a placebo (an inactive substance) to have their heart failure get worse soon after the study started. The reason for this is not clear, but one possibility is that hawthorn might have interacted with drugs the patients were taking.
  • Side effects of hawthorn can include dizziness, nausea, and digestive symptoms.
  • Hawthorn may interact in harmful ways with drugs, including some heart medications. If you’re taking medication and you’re considering using hawthorn, consult your health care provider.

Keep in Mind

  • Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Key References

  • Guo R, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Hawthorn extract for treating chronic heart failure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2008;(1):CD005312 [edited 2009]. Accessed at http://www.thecochranelibrary.com(link is external) on April 17, 2015.
  • Hawthorn. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:182-192.
  • Hawthorn. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com on April 17, 2015. [Database subscription].

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