A Dangerous Mix

Anesthesiologists warn patients to stop taking herbal supplements before surgery. Here's why

Doctors have never quite figured out what to say about herbal supplements. While alternative medications have become increasingly popular--Americans will spend some $5 billion this year on natural remedies for everything from arthritis to the common cold--most physicians assumed that even if they didn't know exactly what these remedies did, they were, at worst, harmless. But more and more, doctors are starting to recognize that many natural supplements have medicinal qualities that can complement--or conflict with--the treatments and medications they prescribe.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists is the latest physicians' group to sound a warning about the potential side effects of...

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