Many ancient populations, including the Mayans, Egyptians and Chinese, discovered the benefits of using herbs medicinally. Saw palmetto, fenugreek and wild yam are three herbs that have been used to treat various ailments for centuries. As with any type of medication affecting your body chemistry, you should be cautious about using herbal supplements without medical supervision. Consult your doctor about the indication for each herb and its proper dosage, as they all cause side effects.
Saw Palmetto Side Effects
Saw palmetto is a low-growing species of palm tree whose berries are used to treat urinary and prostate problems, including benign prostatic hypertrophy, in men. Saw palmetto should only be used under your doctor's supervision because similar symptoms can also be caused by prostate cancer. Typically, saw palmetto produces mild side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation, vomiting and bad breath. However, MayoClinic.com states that there have been reports of more serious side effects occurring, such as erectile dysfunction, low sex drive, dizziness, chest pain and high blood pressure. Women who are pregnant or taking any medication containing female hormones, including oral contraceptives, shouldn't take or handle saw palmetto. Don't take saw palmetto if you take blood thinners or have a blood clotting disorder.
Fenugreek Side Effects
Fenugreek is used as a culinary spice as well as an herbal remedy. It is used to lower blood glucose levels, decrease kidney stone formation and relieve constipation. In higher doses, fenugreek can stimulate the uterus to contract, so don't take fenugreek if you are pregnant. Fenugreek can cause low blood sugar, so it should only be used under medical supervision, especially if you are diabetic. Other side effects include a maple syrup odor in your urine or sweat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and excess gas. Do not take fenugreek if you take blood thinners or have a blood clotting disorder or kidney disease.
Wild Yam Side Effects
Wild yam root, also referred to as Mexican yam or Dioscorea, is most often used to treat women's problems, such as painful menstruation and symptoms of menopause. If you have a history of depression, hormone imbalance or hormone-sensitive cancer, such as breast cancer, do not use wild yam. While it is regarded as a relatively safe herb, AltMD advises that large doses can be toxic, producing symptoms of nausea. Wild yam may also lower cholesterol levels, so don't take it along with other cholesterol-lowering medications.
Saw palmetto, fenugreek and wild yam are all herbal remedies, which are derived from plants and are capable of causing an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction occurs when your body overreacts to an irritating substance by releasing antibodies to combat and remove it. Signs of a mild allergic reaction include itching, hives and a red, peeling skin rash. A stronger allergic reaction produces wheezing, difficulty breathing and swelling of the mouth and throat. A severe, life-threatening allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, requires immediate medical attention and causes confusion, weak pulse, loss of consciousness and possibly coma.