Haiku: To Take Herbs or Not to?

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Jyothirmai Gubili

St. John's Wort




While botanicals are generally perceived as harmless, many reports in literature indicate that misuse of botanicals can be detrimental. Presented below are a few popular herbs in use today, along with their benefits and risks, especially when taken along with other medications.


Soy isoflavones
good for breast cancer patients
but not in supplemental form


relieves arthritic pain
cannot take with blood thinners


famed antidepressant
St. John’s Wort --
plethora of interactions with Rx meds


Red clover Dong quai Black cohosh
help with menopausal symptoms
but have side effects …


oldest living tree
alas, may not help dementia


benefits those with insomnia
but makes the liver go awry


Russian herb Rhodiola
popular adaptogen – keeps fit mind and body
does not get along well with antidepressants


Berries Acai and Goji
super antioxidants
best to avoid during cancer treatment


Jyothirmai Gubili, MS, is Editor, Integrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York.

Poems based on information in the “About Herbs” Web site: http://www.mskcc.or/aboutherbs

Illustrations by Angela Donato




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