May 3, 2016

Cowhage

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How does Cowhage work?

Cowhage contains levodopa (L-dopa), which is used to treat Parkinson's disease. L-dopa is changed to the chemical dopamine in the brain. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease occur in patients due to low levels of dopamine in the brain. Unfortunately, most L-dopa is broken down in the body before it ever reaches the brain unless special chemicals are used with levodopa. These chemicals are not present in cowhage.

Are there safety concerns?

A powdered preparation of cowhage seed, called HP-200, is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for up to 20 weeks. The most common side effects include nausea and a sensation of abdominal bloating. Less common side effects include vomiting, abnormal body movements, and insomnia.

Side effects of other cowhage preparations include headache, pounding heartbeat, and symptoms of psychosis including confusion, agitation, hallucinations, and delusions.

The hair of the cowhage bean pod is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth or applied directly to the skin. It is a strong irritant and can cause severe itching, burning, and swelling.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking cowhage if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Diseases of the heart and blood vessels (cardiovascular disease): Due to the levodopa (L-dopa) in cowhage, it should be avoided or used cautiously in people with cardiovascular disease. L-dopa can frequently cause low blood pressure on standing (orthostatic hypotension), dizziness, and fainting. Much less frequently, L-dopa can also cause pounding or irregular heartbeat.

Diabetes: There is some evidence that cowhage can lower blood sugar levels and might cause blood sugar to drop too low. If you have diabetes and use cowhage, be sure to monitor you blood sugar carefully. The doses of your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted.

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia): There is some evidence that cowhage can lower blood sugar levels and might make low blood sugar worse.

Liver disease: Cowhage contains levodopa (L-dopa). L-dopa seems to raise the blood levels of chemicals that indicate liver damage. This may mean that the cowhage is making liver disease worse. If you have liver disease, don't use cowhage.

Skin cancer called melanoma: The body can use the levodopa (L-dopa) in cowhage to make to the skin pigment called melanin. There is some concern that this extra melanin might make melanoma worse. Don't use cowhage if you have a history of melanoma or a suspicious changes in the skin.

Stomach or intestinal ulcers (peptic ulcer disease): There have been reports that levodopa (L-dopa) can cause gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding in people with ulcers. Since cowhage contains L-dopa, there is some concern that it might cause gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding in patients with ulcers. However, this problem has not yet been reported with cowhage.

Mental illness: Due to the levodopa (L-dopa) content, cowhage might make mental illness disease worse.

Surgery: Since cowhage might affect blood sugar levels, there is some concern that it might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgery. Stop taking cowhage at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


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