TABLE -3: Examples of adverse effect that may occur with herbal plants (Barnes et al. 1996)



Potential adverse effect

Constituents/herbal ingredients


Allergic, hypersensitive

Sesquiterpene lactones:arnica, chamomile and




Furanocaumarins:angelica, celery,wild carrot






Cardiac glycosides:pleurisy root ,squill











Oestrogenic anti androgen

Isoflavanoids:alfalfa, red clover saponins:

Ginseng saw palmetto


Irritant /GIT

Anthraquinones:capsaicinoids, diterpenes,

Saponins, terpene rich volatile oil



Aescin:Horse chestnut, terpene rich volatile oil




Pyrrolizidine alkaloids:comfrey, liferroot,

b asarone:calamus, lignans:chaparral, safrole:






Cyanide poisoning

Cyanogenetic glycoside:apricots




  • Andrographis paniculata- gastric discomfort, vomiting and loss of appetite may be caused by large oral doses of the drug. Injection of the crude drug extract may lead to anaphylactic shock. (Chang and But, 1986)
  • Aloe-vera- 1.prolonged use may severely affect the electrolyte balance and loss of potassium may ultimately reduced the laxative action and disturb the cardiac rhythm in heart patients. Larger doses lead to accumulation of blood in pelvic region and reflux stimulation of uterine muscle and may bring about abortion or premature birth in late pregnancy. Toxic doses can also cause kidney damage. These reasons the drug is contraindicated in pregnancy, lactation kidney complication, irritable bowel condition (Bissett, 1994)
  • Apang- Apang plant possesses abortifacient and contraceptive activity and not used in pregnancy. The drug is devoid of any adverse or side effects at doses up to 8 gm/kg orally in rabbits.(Akhtar and Iqbal, 1991)
  • Bramhi- Sedation associated with the therapeutic doses of drug.
  • Badi saunf- The pure essential oil reinforces inflammation and has an irritant action on the intestinal musculature. Pure fennel oil must not be used for infants or young children due to the danger of laryngeal spasm, dyspnoea, and excitatory state (Singh et al, 1993). It is one of the plant known to provoke photo dermatitis in man.(Bissett.1994)
  • Dhane- Allergic reactions like contact dermatitis are known to be associated with the use of powdered coriander and more particularly with the oil.(Bissett.1994)
  • Datura- Careful consideration of the toxicity of the plant is required before its use. Its overdose, the mouth become dry, an intense thirst develop, the vision get blurred with prominant mydriasis and the heart rate increases. This is followed by hallucination, delirium and loss of motor coordination which may lead to coma and ultimately death by respiratory failure.(Lewis and Elvin, 1977, Evens, 1989)
  • Erandi- Long term use of castor oil must be avoided because strong purgative action can cause colic as well as dehydration with electrolyte imbalance and also reduction of absorption of nutrients. it should not taken during pregnancy as it can cause uterine contraction. (Pharmacopoeia of India, 1991)
  • Haldi-  it may cause allergic reactions to persons who are not previously exposed to the drug.21 cytotoxic effects of curcuminoides have been observed in cell culture but nothing is known about the oral toxicity of curcuminoides.(Seetharam and Pasricha,1989)
  • Isapgol-  The drug should be administered in case faecal impaction or intestinal obstruction and diabetes mellitus where insulin adjustment is difficult.(Haung, 1993)
  • Plantago preparations may affect the absorption of other drugs being taken simultaneously.(Bradley,1992)
  • Jangli amla-  Clinical trials conductedso far have not revealed any toxic effect for P.amarus.(Ansari et al.1988)
  • Kutaki-  Kutkin free extracts are not only devoid of any hepatoprotective activity but may aggravate galactosamine toxicity and therefore should be avoided in the treatment of liver disorder .(De smet et al.1993)
  • Kamuani-  Makoi higher doses of fruits powder may cause lethargy, diarrhoea and pyloric obstruction( Newall et al., 1996). Children who have eaten the berries from the plant have complained of headache, vertigeo, nausea, vomiting, and tenesmus.(Chaudhry, 1996)
  • Kalimirch- prolonged administration of the drug can results in withdrawal syndrome. The drug should not be given with alcohol.(Rao et al.,1997).
  • Kantakari-  Toxicity studies on rats  have shown that the hot water extract of the drug could be toxic at 200mg/kg dose.(Haung,1993)
  • Lavang-  Clove oil should be used with caution orally and should not be used on the skin.(Singh and Singh, 1993)
  • Maka-  alcoholic extract shows no sign of toxicity in rats and mice. the minimum lethal dose greater than 2.0gm/kg when given orally and intraperitonial in mice.(Goodman and Gillman, 1966).the drug traditionally considered safe.
  • Moti-bramhi-  contact dermatitis has been observed due to madecassol.triterpene glycoside have been identified as having oncogenic activity and asiaticoside has been implicated as possible carcinogenic where repeated application .(Laeruym and Andiversen,1972)
  • Adrak-  Excessive dose of ginger may interfere with existing cardiac, antidiabetic, anticoagulant therapy and should not be used in food during pregnancy and lactation.(Newall et al. 1996)
  • Pudina- Most of the adverse effects reported are associated with relatively high intake of menthol via confectionary, pharmaceutical and other products (stewart et al, 1987)
  • Papra- Papra podophyllin is mitotic poison and its misuse can leads to significant toxicity. Its use in pregnancy has been associated with congenital abnormalities and fetal death.(Gattuso and Kanum, 1994)
  • Revand chini-  non standard anthraquinones containing laxative preparations should not taken during the pregnancy and lactation since there pharmacological action is unpredictable. Rhubarb is also contraindicated in arthritis, intestinal obstruction and renal disorders .(Kang et al.1985)
  • Serpangandha- Rauwolfia products are contracted in patients who have previously shown hypersensitivity to rauwolfia or its alkaloids. They are also contracted in pregnancy, in mental depression, and active peptic ulcer. (Liberti and Lawrence,1992)
  • Tulsi- the herb and essential oil should not be used during pregnancy and lactation or for prolonged periods.(Bowen and Cubbin,1992)
  • Vasaka-  it has abortifacient activity and not used in pregnancy.
  • Yashtimadhuh-  the drug when used with in the recommended dosages the treatmentperiod is devoid of any adverse reaction.however,if taken in excessive amount it can cause metabolic disturbances known as pseudosteronism leading to oedema, hypertension and weight gain.(Lewis and Elwin,1977, Hikino,1985)


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