An array of health conditions and medicines can cause you to lose your appetite, from cancer to cough suppressants and antihistamines. You can take a variety of supplements that will increase your appetite. Be aware, however, that these supplements will have other effects and can interact with drugs. Always consult a health care provider before you try a new supplement to stimulate your appetite, especially if you have a health condition.
Many herbs have appetite stimulating properties, including angelica, sorrel, dandelion, gentian and devil's claw. Some have a history of use in traditional medicine, whereas others have science to back them. Devil's claw, gentian and dandelion, for example, are approved by Germany's Commission E, that country's regulatory body for herbs, for treating appetite loss. Commission E also approves these herbs for treating dyspeptic complaints such as heartburn.
While many supplements improve appetite, they also can cause side effects --- some of which are counterproductive. Devil's claw, for example, can include nausea and vomiting. Dandelion also may lead to nausea, and in some cases leads to appetite loss. It also can trigger gallbladder inflammation and can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to herbs in the daisy family, such as German chamomile, say George T. Grossberg and Barry Fox, authors of "The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide." Side effects vary from supplement to supplement. For example, gentian can cause headaches and shouldn't be used if you have a gastric ulcer because it stimulates your secretion of gastric juices. Sorrel can cause diarrhea, gastric irritation, kidney irritation and hemorrhage.
Appetite stimulating supplements often have other uses that you'll need to be aware of. Dandelion, for example, is used as a diuretic, according to University of Maryland Medical Center. Angelica promotes perspiration and is used in traditional medicine to treat high blood pressure, notes K.V. Peter in the book, "Handbook of Herbs and Spices." Sorrell is used to encourage bowel movements and urine flow. Devil's claw is approved by Commission E for treating rheumatism.
Supplements that stimulate appetite such as devil's claw and dandelion can interact with medicines, including over-the-counter varieties, say Grossberg and Fox. Devil's claw can raise your risk of bleeding or bruising when taken with medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen and prescription medications such as urokinase and abciximab. It may interfere with calcium carbonate, aluminum hydroxide, cimetinide and ranitidine. It can raise risks of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, if taken with drugs including acarbose and tolazamide. It can raise risks of blood pressure that's too low, or hypotension, if taken with drugs including bisoprolol and doxazosin.
Dandelion interferes with drugs as well, including lansoprazole and raberazole. It can increase your risk for high blood levels of potassium if taken with drugs such as amiloride. Dandelion also can raise risks of low blood pressure and low blood sugar when taken with certain drugs. Dandelion can be dangerous when taken with lithium, because it can increase that drug's effects and lead to lithium toxicity. Sorrel can increase effects of drugs including chloralidone and polythiazide. You need to check with your doctor before taking these or other appetite-stimulating supplements if you take any medications.
Certain health conditions may be worsened if you take appetite stimulating supplements. Devil's claw and gentian can both worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, by increasing stomach acid. Devil's claw and dandelion can affect your ability to treat diabetes. Dandelion can make gallstones, bile duct blockages and gallbladder inflammation worse. Sorrel can worsen gastrointestinal problems because it may irritate your gastrointestinal tract. Devil's claw also can affect your heart rate and blood pressure and worsen cardiovascular ailments, say Grossberg and Fox.
- "The Essential Herb-Drug-Vitamin Interaction Guide"; George T. Grossberg and Barry Fox; 2007
- "Handbook of Herbs and Spices"; K. V. Peter; 2004
- "Let's Get Natural With Herbs"; Debra Rayburn; 2007
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Dandeliion
- "Phytotherapy"; Francesco Capasso; 2003
- Drugs.com: Chlorpheniramine Dextromethorphan Side Effects