August 15, 2017

Did You Know Herbs Can Affect Prescription Medications?

Millions of people take herbal supplements and consider them completely safe, but there are nearly 1,500 documented interactions between herbs and prescription medications. According to poison.org, about 20 percent of North Americans take herbal supplements. Humans have been using herbs…

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Millions of people take herbal supplements and consider them completely safe, but there are nearly 1,500 documented interactions between herbs and prescription medications.

According to poison.org, about 20 percent of North Americans take herbal supplements.

Humans have been using herbs for thousands of years for common ailments. In fact, many medicines today, such as morphine and penicillin, have botanical origins, according to drugs.com. Some herbs do have an impact on the body but the question is whether the impact is good.
For one thing, just because herbs grow naturally, doesn’t mean they are processed safely. Consumers rarely know if pesticides have been used on herbal ingredients, for example.

Most importantly, there are few warnings about potential interactions with prescription drugs.

Interaction with heart medications

According to the Mayo Clinic, eight of the 10 most commonly used herbal supplements dangerously interact with the blood-thinning medication, Warfarin.

  •  Garlic increases the risk of bleeding when taken with Warfarin, aspirin and Plavix.
  •  Ginkgo increases the risk of bleeding with Warfarin, aspirin and Clopidogrel.
  •  Ginseng decreases the effectiveness of Warfarin.
  •  Hawthorn decreases blood pressure and heart rate when taken with Beta blockers and propranolol. Also beware of taking Hawthorn with calcium channel blockers such as Cardizem and other and nitrates, such as Nitro-Bid.

Other herbs that can dangerously interact with heart medicine include evening primrose, CoenzymeQ10 (also known as ubiquinone or CoQ10), and St. John’s wort.

  •  Never mix Valerian with muscle relaxants, other sleep or anxiety medicines, pain medicines, antidepressants, or other medicines that cause drowsiness.
  •  Saw Palmetto reduces effectiveness of estrogen and oral contraceptives, and hormonal therapies.
  •  Melatonin should not be taken with benzodiazepines, sedatives and hypnotics, some antihistamines, opioid analgesics or muscle relaxers. It can also interfere with diabetes medications.

Many herbal medications can interfere with medicines metabolized in the liver and even cause liver damage.
Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking an herbal supplement.

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