Herbal medicine and anaesthesia

B Cheng, CT Hung, W Chiu
Department of Anaesthesia, Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital, 3 Lok Man Road, Chai Wan, Hong Kong

Herbal medicines are increasingly used in both western and Chinese societies. This is partly attributed to the alleged limitations of scientific medicine in the cure and control of chronic diseases. Many patients do not disclose that they have had used herbs before surgery and hence their physicians remain unaware of the potential herb-drug interactions. With respect to anaesthesia, herbs can cause coagulation disorders, cardiovascular side-effects, water and electrolyte disturbances, endocrine effects, hepatotoxicity, and prolongation of the effects of anaesthetic agents. Anaesthesiologists should obtain a history of herbal medicine use from patients and work out the adverse perioperative herb-drug interactions in advance of the actual operation. If in doubt, the herbal medicine should be stopped for 2 weeks prior to anaesthesia and surgery.

Hong Kong Med J 2002;8:123-30

Key words: Anesthesia; Herbs

 
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