An increasing variety of alternative health care products (defined as "over-the-counter," nonprescribed herbal medicines) are taken by patients for a plethora of reasons. Unfortunately these self-prescribed remedies are seldom considered by the patient to be medications and as a result it has been noted that 70 per cent of patients do not reveal herbal use to their allopathic practitioners or hospital personnel. The rapid growth of this herbal self-therapy has important implications for the practice of surgery. A case of post-laparoscopic cholecystectomy bleeding in a patient taking Gingko biloba is reported. This preparation has been reported to cause spontaneous bleeding and may interact with anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents. Other herbal medicines have also been associated with potential increased bleeding including garlic, feverfew, ginger, and ginseng. It is vital for surgeons to be apprised of all substances ingested by patients, to be cognizant of their potential adverse effects and drug interactions, and to be familiar with their therapeutic modality, all of which will help to optimize therapeutic approaches and improve patient outcome.