Castor oil. Turpin hydrate. Tincture of valerian. Since the advent of medicine, human beings have been looking for that one special tonic that will keep them--and their children--healthy. Thanks to modern manufacturing, the local supersized drugstore and the Internet, we now have hundreds to choose from. One such herbal blend that has been popular in Europe for decades is Iberogast.
What is Iberogast?
Iberogast is a German dietary supplement that has been on the market since 1961. It is intended to aid digestion and support gastrointestinal health. Iberogast itself has not been reported to have any side effects, although some of its ingredients may have effects. According to the manufacturer, Medical Futures Inc., Iberogast contains peppermint leaf, liquorice root, celandine, lemon balm leaf, milk thistle fruit, caraway fruit, angelica root and rhizome, clown's mustard plant (iberis amara), chamomile flower and 31 per cent alcohol.
How it is Used
The label states that adults should take 20 drops of Iberogast with their favourite drink. Children 6 to 12 years old should be given five drops three times a day, and children who are 3 to 6 years old should be given 10 drops, three times a day. Babies as young as 3 months can be given eight drops, but the manufacturer recommends that you consult your physician before giving Iberogast to children under 3 months.
The drops can be placed directly in the mouth or dissolved in juice, water or tea.
Chamomile Side Effects
One of the ingredients in Iberogast is chamomile, which is a member of the ragweed family. Some people do have an allergic reaction to anything containing chamomile. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, allergic reactions include anaphylaxis, throat swelling and shortness of breath. Skin allergic reactions like itching and eczema also have been reported.
Liquorice Root Side Effects
While the University of Maryland confirms that liquorice root--another of Iberogast's ingredients--has been traditionally used to aid digestion, it also warns of possible side effects including fatigue, headaches, high blood pressure and even heart attacks. Liquorice root contains the chemical glycyrrhizin, which can cause a condition called pseudoaldosteronism, in which you become overly sensitive to hormones in your adrenal cortex. This can cause dangerous water retention.
Although these conditions usually develop in response to large doses of liquorice root, they have been reported at very low doses.
Alcohol Side Effects
Although the level of alcohol in each dose of Iberogast is very low, according to Dianne Murphy, M.D., director of U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Office of Pediatric Therapeutics, you should be careful giving anything containing alcohol to children. Because they are more sensitive to many drugs--including alcohol--even very low doses can cause reactions such as excitability or extreme sleepiness. Also, anyone recovering from alcohol abuse or at risk for alcoholism should avoid all products containing alcohol.