Traditional Chinese medicine used for thousands of years, but recently been mistaken for other herbs used in slimming and for skin conditions.
Dangers: In 1993 blamed for renal failure in patients at an upmarket Belgian slimming clinic and again in in Britain in 1999. It is not available in the UK.


An immune booster, used for increasing resistence to infection particularly in those with chronic fatigue syndrom. Should not be used by anyone with an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or HIV. Should not be taken continuously.


A herb used in weight loss and for boosting energy. In Jan 2004 the US FDA amassed evidence to show that it was
causal in high blood pressure, stroke and sudden death to propose a ban. Restricted in the UK and is not available over the counter. Dangers: A stimulant it can increase the heart rate and lead to a heart attack in a suspectible person.

Gingko Biloba

Eases Reynaud’s dusease and intermittent claudication (like angina in the calf muscles) to walk for longer without pain. Dangerous for people using Warfarin and aspirin.


Improves concentration and alertness.


Boosts mental alertness and has an effect like caffeine. Although it is a natural substance users should be careful of becoming dependent on it.


Treats insomnia and muscle-related pain. Rare cases of people using the concentrated form, has led to liver damage. There is a voluntary ban by suppliers and herbalists since December 2001.


A tonic. Should be avoided by anyone taking medicine for high blood pressure because it causes water retention.

St John’s Wort

Used for depression and anxiety. Can interact with some drugs such as the Pill, cyclosporin (used for transplants) and HIV drugs.


Insomnia, anxiety.


In 2003 the Women’s Health Initiative carried out a study of 16,000 women which showed that the combination of
estrogen and progestin, in HRT not only raised a postmenopausal woman’s risk of heart disease and breast cancer but
also increasd her risk of str