Supplement Warnings

Here are basic warnings on a few of the supplements Electroherbalism sometimes recommend or are included in some of the formulas in Favorite Supplements. There are many herbs and other supplements which have warnings about their use which are not usually recommended on this website so not included in this list. See Michael Murray's books like The Healing Power of Herbs and the Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements for the most reliable warnings on herbs and supplements. Do not use any of these or any other supplements during pregnancy unless you know them to be safe to take during pregnancy and have checked with a health care professional.

Note that iron, a mineral, is one of the most dangerous supplements. Every year, one or two people die from gross overdose of supplements which contain it. Iron rarely needs to be supplemented since it is common in food, especially meat, but vegetarians may develop an iron deficiency. Very few of the supplements Electroherbalism recommends have iron - iron-free multivitamins are usualy available, and these are recommended. See more information in the pink information box below.

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
Berberine plants (goldenseal, Oregon grape root, barberry root bark, goldthread, yellowroot)
Black walnut hulls
Cascara sagrada
Ginkgo biloba
Ma huang
Vitamin B6

Arginine - although recommended by Life Extension research in amounts up to 15g per day, too much at one time can cause stiff muscles and joints or stomach cramps. Even small amounts can stimulate herpes.

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) - Can cause loose and frequent elimination (diarrhea), which is a signal to use less until it no longer occurs.

Berberine plants - Include goldenseal, Oregon grape root, barberry root bark, goldthread, yellowroot. Do not use large doses long term since may inhibit intestinal permeability and production of B vitamins.

Black walnut (green hulls) - Rich in iodine and can cause a rash or other symptoms with those who are sensitive to iodine.

Cascara sagrada - Long term use can cause dependency on its laxative action, plus cause electrolyte and other mineral shortage, which can lead to heart and circulation problems. Can cause intestinal cramping.

Chrysin - Can worsen arthritis, muscle and joint pain.

DHEA - Can worsen arthritis, muscle and joint pain. Some have a concern it may stimulate some existing cancers, like prostate.

Ephedra or Ma huang - Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are the active ingredients. Can exhaust the adrenals similar to high dose caffeine when used excessively. Not for use if there is high blood pressure, heart or thyroid disease, diabetes, difficulty in urination due to prostate enlargement or if taking an MAO inhibitor or any other prescription drug. Safe enough for most people used short term for treating sinus and congestion problems, but is often included in thermogenic weight loss formulas used long term, where most of the problems occur.

Fo-Ti - Although the most popular tonic herb in China, it can cause cramping even in small doses in some people.

Garlic - Can cause headaches, probably due in part to increased circulation, and mental confusion.

Gingko biloba - Can cause headaches in some, probably due to increased circulation. Can cause capillary bleeding if they are so weak that dilation makes them porous.

Ginseng (Panax or Korean) - Some say it can raise blood pressure while others say it regulates it, only raising it if it needs to be.

Ma huang - see Ephedra

MSM - I have seen no problems reported with taking even high dose except for possible acid indigestion, but suspect it decreases libido in men.

Potassium - Using potassium supplements to excess can cause electrolyte imbalance if there is not consumed adequate selenium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and other minerals, as well as damage weak kidneys.

Senna - Long term use can cause dependency on its laxative action, plus cause electrolyte and other mineral shortage, which can lead to heart and circulation problems. Can cause intestinal cramping.

Suma - Causes stomach cramps in some people when excessive amounts are used.

Vitamin B6 - Although recommended for muscle, joint, and tendon problems using high doses long term can actually worsen these problems. Using 250mg (and probably much more) daily is safe for most people to use up for a week or two, but limit to100mg and take with other B vitamins if used long term.

Yarrow - Too much at one time can cause cramping. Contains some thujone (an antiparasitic), in small amounts. Stimulates sweating which is unwelcome by some.

Yohimbe - Not for use if there are blood pressure, heart, or prostate problems. Excessive amounts may increase DHT (bad testosterone) production.

Zinc - Too much at one time can cause cramping, nausea, and lightheadedness.


(OMNS, Feb 27, 2007) Over a twenty-three year period, vitamins have been connected with the deaths of a total of ten people in the United States. Poison control statistics confirm that more Americans die each year from eating soap than from taking vitamins.

Where are the bodies?
A 23-year review of US poison control center annual reports (1) tells a remarkable and largely ignored story: vitamins are extraordinarily safe.

Annual deaths alleged from vitamins:

2005: zero
2004: two
2003: two
2002: one
2001: zero
2000: zero
1999: zero
1998: zero
1997: zero
1996: zero
1995: zero
1994: zero
1993: one
1992: zero
1991: two
1990: one
1989: zero
1988: zero
1987: one
1986: zero
1985: zero
1984: zero
1983: zero

The zeros are not due to a lack of reporting. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), which maintains the USA's national database of information from 61 poison control centers, has noted that vitamins are among the 16 most reported substances. Even including intentional and accidental misuse, the number of alleged vitamin fatalities is strikingly low, averaging less than one death per year for more than two decades. In 16 of those 23 years, AAPCC reports that there was not one single death due to vitamins.

These statistics specifically include vitamin A, niacin (B-3), pyridoxine (B-6), other B-complex, C, D, E, "other" vitamin(s), such as vitamin K, and multiple vitamins without iron. Minerals, which are chemically and nutritionally different from vitamins, have an excellent safety record as well, but not quite as good as vitamins.
On the average, one or two fatalities per year are typically attributed to iron poisoning from gross overdosing on supplemental iron. Deaths attributed to other supplemental minerals are very rare. Even iron, although not as safe as vitamins, accounts for fewer deaths than do laundry and dishwashing detergents.


1. Annual Reports of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poisoning and Exposure Database (formerly known as the Toxic Exposure Surveillance System). AAPCC, 3201 New Mexico Avenue, Ste. 330, Washington, DC 20016.
<> Download any report from 1983-2005 here free of charge. The "Vitamin" category is usually near the end of the report.

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Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Linus Pauling defined orthomolecular medicine as "the treatment of disease by the provision of the optimum molecular environment, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body." Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: <>

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