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Jamaican Dogwood

Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Jamaican dogwood (Piscidia erythrina or Piscidia piscipula). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 - Contraindications: Jamaica dogwood is not recommended for human use and should never be taken without a doctor's close supervision. Don't use this herb if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or plan pregnancy in the near future.

Problems with breast feeding mothers using small or usual amounts have not been proven. However, the chance of problems does exist so don't use this herb unless prescribed by your doctor.

Warning 2 - Alcohol: Experts recommend avoiding concurrent use.

Warning 3 - Antihistamines: The use of Jamaican dogwood with antihistamines may increase effects too much. Experts recommend avoiding concurrent use.

Warning 4 - Antihypertensives: Jamaican dogwood increases the effects of antihypertensives. Experts recommend avoiding concurrent use.

Warning 5 - Barbiturates: This herb increases the effects of barbiturates. Experts recommend avoiding concurrent use.

Warning 6 - Opioids: Jamaican dogwood increases the effects of opioids. Experts recommend avoiding concurrent use.

Warning 7 - Sedative medications (CNS depressants): Do not take Jamaican dogwood if you use sedatives.

Warning 8 - Surgery: Jamaican dogwood slows down the central nervous system (CNS), causing sleepiness. There is a concern that this effect might amplify the effects of anesthesia and other medications used during and after surgery. Stop using Jamaican dogwood at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Warning 9 - Pediatric use: Do not give Jamaican dogwood to children.

Warning 10 - Elderly usage: People over 55 years of age are especially sensitive to the poisons in this herb.

Despite serious safety concerns, Jamaican dogwood is used for the following conditions and benefits.
  • Analgesic
  • Anxiety
  • Cough and whooping cough
  • Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation)
  • Insomnia
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Migraine
  • Nervous breakdown
  • Neuralgia (severe stabbing nerve pain)
  • Promote sweating
  • Reduce fever and inflammation
  • Relieve pain
  • Relieve smooth muscle spasms
  • Toothaches

Side Effects of Jamaican Dogwood

The known side effects of using Jamaican Dogwood include:
  1. Hallucinations
  2. Depresses uterine contractions
Other side effects may also occur when using Jamaican Dogwood. (See form below)

Other common names for this herb include piscidia, fish poison tree, fishfuddle, Jamaican dogwood, and Florida fish poison tree. Jamaican dogwood contains rotenone.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2011 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on Jamaican Dogwood and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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