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I wanted to improve my health and almost died: herbal supplements almost led to the death of a woman

56-year-old woman learned the hard way that herbal supplements can be harmful, reports USNews.

Photo: Shutterstock

A woman suffered from a dangerous heart rhythm disorder after taking high doses of hemp oil containing CBD (cannabidiol), CBG (cannabigerol) and berberine supplements. She told doctors that she uses supplements to cope with her stressful work schedule.

She was admitted to the emergency room after she suddenly felt dizzy and passed out, according to a new study. There, she was diagnosed with a life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia.

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According to the study, an ECG showed a rapid heart rate originating in the ventricles and a markedly prolonged QT interval, meaning the heart's electrical system takes longer than usual to recharge between beats. The report was published in the May 16 issue of Heart Rhythm Case Reports.

“More and more people are taking herbal supplements for their potential benefits. However, their “natural” nature can be misleading, as these drugs can have serious side effects on their own or in combination with other supplements or medications,” says Dr. Elise Bakelants from the Department of Cardiology at the Geneva University Hospital in Switzerland.

“Their use should not be taken lightly and dosage recommendations should always be followed,” Bakelants said in a magazine press release.

Apart from low blood pressure, the patient's blood count and physical examination were normal. Doctors determined that herbal supplements she was taking were the cause of the heart attack.

Four months ago, the woman began taking six times the recommended dose of hemp oil and recently added berberine to the mix.

All supplements were discontinued during her hospital stay and her QT returned to normal after five days. Three months later, she had no new episodes of dizziness or fainting, and her ECG was within normal limits.

Along with following dosage recommendations, patients and physicians should be aware of possible side effects and interactions with other medications. This is especially true for those who have an underlying heart condition or who are already taking medications that prolong the QT interval, Bakelants said.

The popularity of herbal supplements has skyrocketed in recent years, especially those containing CBD that do not require a prescription. The researchers noted that some take CBD to relieve pain and fight inflammation.

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Berberine is found in the roots, rhizomes and stem bark of many medicinal plants. It is used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to treat infections, diarrhea, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

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