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arthritis supplements to avoid

Nine Supplements to Avoid

All supplements should be used carefully, but some should not be used at all. Here are nine supplements you shouldn't take.

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Arnica
Arnica Montana
Claim: Relieves aches; an anti-inflammatory and immune enhancer
Why it’s among supplements to avoid: Toxic if it gets inside the body. Taken orally, it’s poisonous unless extremely diluted in homeopathic pill form; applied topically, on unbroken skin, it is generally considered safe. It can cause miscarriages, allergic reactions, paralysis, heart palpitations and death.

Aconite
Aconitum napellus
Claim: Eases joint inflammation, gout, RA
Why it’s among supplements to avoid: It's a strong, fast-acting poison that affects the heart and central nervous system.

Adrenal, spleen, thymus extracts
Claim: Helps fatigue, and relives stress and inflammation
Why it’s among supplements to avoid:
Derived from raw animal organs. The FDA warns those organs could possibly be contaminated.

Autumn crocus
Colchicum autumnale
Claim:
Lessens gout attacks and eases general arthritis
Why it’s among supplements to avoid:
It's a potential poison and should be taken only as a prescription drug (colchicine) under a doctor’s supervision.

5-HTP
5-hydroxytrytophan
Claim: Helps fibromyalgia, sleep disorders and depression.
Why it’s among supplements to avoid:
In the body, 5-HTP is converted to serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Taking 5-HTP supplements may raise serotonin levels too much if combined with:

  • many anti-depressants, including:
    • selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft)
    • monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors such as phenelzin (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate)
    • tricyclic antidepressants  such as amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), imipramine (Tofranil)
    • nefazodone (Serzone)
  • certain pain relievers, including  tramadol (Ultram) and meperidine (Demerol)
  • “triptan” migraine medications, including naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), sumatriptan (Imitrex) and zolmitriptan (Zomig)
  • cough syrup containing dextromethorphan, such as Robitussin DM and others

Having serotonin levels that are too high could lead to serotonin syndrome, a dangerous condition involving mental changes, hot flashes, rapidly fluctuating blood pressure and heart rate, and possibly coma.

GBL 
Gamma-butyrolactone
Claim: Helps fibromyalgia, sleep problems, depression, claims to “improve sexual and athletic performance and health”
Why it’s among supplements to avoid:
Linked to death, coma and seizures.

L-tryptophan
Claim: Eases sleep disorders and depression
Why it’s among supplements to avoid: In the body, L-tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, which is then converted to serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Taking L-tryptophan supplements may raise serotonin levels too much if combined with:

  • many anti-depressants, including:
    • selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft)
    • monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors such as phenelzin (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate)
    • tricyclic antidepressants  such as amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), imipramine (Tofranil)
    • nefazodone (Serzone)
  • certain pain relievers, including  tramadol (Ultram) and meperidine (Demerol)
  • “triptan” migraine medications, including naratriptan (Amerge), rizatriptan (Maxalt), sumatriptan (Imitrex) and zolmitriptan (Zomig)
  • cough syrup containing dextromethorphan, such as Robitussin DM and others

Having serotonin levels that are too high could lead to serotonin syndrome, a dangerous condition involving mental changes, hot flashes, rapidly fluctuating blood pressure and heart rate, and possibly coma.


Chaparral
Claim: Reduces inflammation
Why it’s among supplements to avoid: May cause hepatitis and kidney and liver damage.

Kombucha tea
Claim:
Helps arthritis and eases pain
Why it’s among supplements to avoid:
Home brewed kombucha tea can be unsafe to drink when made under nonsterile conditions then fermented (it’s considered safest to buy the tea from a reputable company). Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should not use kombucha.

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