From 1990 to 1997 it is estimated that use of herbal supplements has increased 380% in the US, with an estimated 37% of Americans consuming these products in 1997. According to an article by Abebe, although some herbal supplements have benefits that are clinically proven, many are associated with adverse effects. One adverse effect of particular interest to dentists is the potential of certain herbal supplements to interfere with blood clotting. Examples of herbs with antiplatelet properties, and that have been reported to be associated with bleeding problems when taken orally, include ginkgo biloba, ginger, garlic, feverfew, bilberry, meadowsweet, willow, turmeric, donquai, ginseng, and cayenne (capsicum). Many herbs contain coumarin or its derivatives, and are therefore associated with anticoagulant effects. Examples of such herbs are motherworth, donquai, chamomile, horse chestnut, fenugreek, red clover, and cayenne. A few herbs that have fibrinolytic properties, including garlic, cayenne, and Panax ginseng. Certain herbs have the potential to interact with drugs that interfere with blood clotting, such as NSAIDs, aspirin, or warfarin (Coumadin). The author suggests that dentists should specifically ask patients about their use of herbs. Resources are available for evaluating the effects of herbs on dental-related treatment, as well as potential herb-drug interactions.
(Source: GDA Action, Journal of the Georgia Dental Association, October 2003)