Are supplements safe to take prior to surgery?

You may be asked to stop taking herbal supplements prior to surgery. Some supplements may cause complications. You should stop taking herbal medications at least two weeks before surgery. If there is not enough time to stop your herbal medications before surgery, bring the product in the original container.

Please STOP taking the following supplements prior to surgery. All the supplements listed below should be stopped two weeks prior to your surgery.

Supplements That Can Cause Bleeding Problems

  • Arnica montana
  • Baical skullcap root.
  • Bak foong pill
  • Birch Bark
  • Black Cohosh
  • Bromelain
  • Capsaicin
  • Cayenne
  • Chines peony
  • Chinese agrimony
  • CoQ10 (may interact with blood thinners like warfarin and diabetes drug insulin)
  • Cumin
  • Dan Shen
  • Devil’s claw
  • Dong Quai
  • Feverfew
  • Feverfew
  • Fish oils (omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Fritillaria bulbs
  • Garlic
  • Geum japonicum
  • Ginger
  • Gingko Biloba
  • Ginseng
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Grape Seed Extract
  • Green tea
  • Guilinggao (tortoise jelly)
  • Japanese honeysuckle
  • Kangen-karyu
  • Licorice
  • Milk Thistle
  • Oil of wintergreen
  • Poncitrin (jishi)
  • Primrose Oil
  • Saw palmetto4
  • Seasonal tonic tea
  • St Johns Wort
  • Ta gastronol tea
  • Turmeric and curcumin
  • Vitamin E

Supplements That Can Have Cardiovascular Effects

  • Black Cohosh (blood pressure decrease)
  • Ephedra (causes hypertension, palpitations, and tachycardia)
  • Garlic (can cause hypotension)
  • Ginseng
  • Goldenseed
  • Gotu Kola
  • Herbal tea
  • Hoodia (possible arrhythmia)
  • Kava6
  • Licorice
  • Ma Huang (another name for ephedra)
  • Milk Thistle
  • Yohimbe

Supplements That Can Cause Drug Interactions

  • Echinacea7
  • Goldenseal
  • Kava root
  • Licorice
  • St. John's Wort / Goat weed
  • Tumeric (prolong the duration of many drugs)
  • Valerian

Supplements That Can Have Anesthetic Effects 

  • Kava
  • St. John's Wort / Goatweed (sedation, blood pressure changes)
  • Valerian


Supplements Known to Cause Other Types of Adverse Events 

  • CoQ10 (may lower blood sugar levels in diabetics and interact with warfarin)
  • Ginseng (can cause hypoglycemia)
  • Hoodia  ( changes in blood sugar)
  • St. John's Wort / Goatweed (can cause photosensitivity, especially after laser or chemical peels)

Supplements Safe To Take Before Surgery

The following supplements are fine to continue before surgery. 

  • Calcium
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Protein and Amino Acids
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B (complex) / B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B6, Biotin
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc