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By Giovanni Maciocia

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SIDE-EFFECTS OF CHINESE HERBAL FORMULAE AND HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM Side-effects occur with Chinese herbs too, but the manner of their occurrence is completely different from that of synthetic drugs. The latter cause side-effects because they are single chemicals designed to affect certain sites in the body but, in most cases, unable to avoid affecting other sites too. Chinese herbs cause Aside-effects@ only due to their intrinsic nature and only over a fairly long period of time. Indeed, one aspect of the art of Chinese herbal medicine is concerned with preventing the development of these side-effects.

Since at least two weeks would elapse before a pregnancy can be confirmed, when I treat infertility with decoctions, I usually add one or two herbs to Acalm the foetus@ just in case the patient falls pregnant. Dr Chen Zi Ming of the Song dynasty listed the herbs forbidden in pregnancy as being Shui Zhi Hirudo seu Whitmania, Wu Tou Radix Aconiti carmichaeli, Fu Zi Radix lateralis Aconiti carmichaeli praeparata, Niu Huang Calculus Bovis, She Tui Exuviae Serpentis, Ba Dou Semen Croton tiglii, Wu Gong Scolopendra subspinipes, Niu Xi Radix Achyranthis bidentatae seu Cyathulae, Li Lu Radix et Rhizoma Veratri, Yi Yi Ren Semen Coicis lachryma jobi, Xiong Huang Realgar, Mang Xiao Mirabilitum, Di Bie Chong Eupolyphaga seu Opisthoplatia, She Xiang Secretio Moschus moschiferi, Yan Hu Suo Rhizoma Corydalis Yanhusuo, San Leng Rhizoma Sparganii stoloniferii, Qian Niu Zi Semen Pharbitidis, Zao Jiao Fructus Gleditsiae sinensis, Tao Ren Semen Persicae, Bai Mao Gen Rhizoma Imperatae cylindricae, Ting Li Zi Semen Descurainiae seu Lepidii, Qu Mai Herba Dianthi, Ban Xia Rhizoma Pinelliae ternatae, Tian Nan Xing Rhizoma Arisaemati, Tong Cao Medulla Tetrapanacis papyriferi, Gan Jiang Rhizoma Zingiberis officinalis, Da Suan Bulbus Alli sativi, eggs, mule meat and rabbit meat.

It should also be used with caution in patients suffering from hypertension, seizures, diabetes and thyroid conditions. lviii Suan Zao Ren Suan Zao Ren Semen Ziziphi spinosae has a synergistic effect with many other sedatives and hypnotic agents: thus, the dosage of any sedatives and hypnotic drugs the patient might be taking should probably be reduced. lix This has adverse implications for pregnant women and it would also be preferable to avoid concomitant use with warfarin. Bai Guo (Ginkgo) Bai Guo Semen Ginkgo bilobae contains ginkgolide B which is a potent inhibitor of the platelet-activating-factor that is needed to induce platelet aggregation and therefore blood coagulation.

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