Safety is the main concern in combining herbal medicine and drug treatment. A qualified Medical Herbalist will ensure that there is no evidence of any harmful interaction that would stop the benefits of either treatment or cause any side effects.
Studies highlighted in the seminar showed the benefit, for example, of combining herbal treatment with chemotherapy in treating cancer. Cancer patients regularly choose to use alternative therapies to reduce the side effects of treatment, support the immune system and improve general health and well being. Cancer Consultants, however, advise patients to use these therapies before or after the chemotherapy treatment.
The evidence presented showed that herbal medicines could enhance cancer treatment by increasing the amount of drug reaching the active, prevent resistance to cancer drugs, reduce toxicity and improve treatment outcomes for the patient. Investigations carried out both in the UK and Thailand describe the benefits patients experienced when combining herbs and supplements with chemotherapy. In China, cancer patients are routinely given a mix of herbs and cancer drugs in their treatment.
Combining herbal medicines and drugs in the treatment of other conditions can also maximise the benefits of treatment, reduce the drug dose required and reduce side effects. Advice must always be obtained from a qualified Medical Herbalist and Consultant or GP.