Supplements and Surgery

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If you are about to have surgery, you have most likely been instructed to discontinue all supplementation about 2 weeks prior to surgery. In many cases, this has to do with the blood thinning effects that a number of plant-based medicines possess. Herbs like ginkgo biloba, garlic, ginger, St. John’s wort, willow bark, clove, bromelain, turmeric, angelica root, arnica, anise, celery, horse chestnut, parsley, devils’ claw, dong quai, capsicum, danshen, chamomile, feverfew, passionflower, papain, red clover and ginseng all have some blood thinning effects. Even vitamin E should be used with caution prior to surgery, as should high consumption of green tea.

The blood thinning side effects of certain supplements are not the only reason for caution when talking pre- and post-surgery protocols. If anesthesia is being used, one needs to use caution with such herbs as kava kava and valerian. Immune support supplements such as echinacea may also interfere with immunosuppressant medications given following organ transplant surgeries, and should be avoided until instructed by your MD or ND. Any supplement that has the potential to alter blood pressure, either one way or another, such as hawthorn, licorice root or goldenseal, should also be discontinued over the few weeks before and after surgery.

After surgery there are some supplements that may aid in the healing process. Vitamin C, zinc and glutamine are just some nutrients that aid in recovery and reduce inflammation. To learn more about what supplements can help post surgery, click here.

Just a reminder – it is always best to give both your MD and ND an exhaustive list of supplements and medications prior to surgery to ensure a healthy, safe and quick procedure and recovery!


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November 2022