The Dangers Of Mixing Herbal Remedies With Prescriptions

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In an ideal world, we would have no need to take prescription drugs. But for some of us, they help us tremendously. So the question is this: Is it safe to mix herbal remedies with over the counter or prescription drugs?

Answer: Yes & No

In a new study by Dr. Hsiang-Wen Lin from the College of Pharmacy, China Medical School, Dr. Wang was the co-author of a new study that explored the risks associated with mixing herbal supplements and prescribed or over the counter drugs.

Many people assume that because the supplements are natural that they do not have to tell their doctor they are taking them. While these supplements are natural and very beneficial, they do alter the chemistry of your body. Our bodies are a fragile eco-system and one must be cautious about what they introduce and mix. Certain substances do not blend well with each other and can wreak havoc.

A recent study performed by the International Journal of Clinical Practice combined 882 herb/dietary supplements and drugs to see what would happen and here were their findings:

  • Patients with cardiovascular or central nervous system conditions who are taking medications are especially at risk for potentially dangerous herb and drug interactions
  • The herbs and dietary supplement ingredients that have the greatest potential for causing negative interactions with drugs are calcium, echinacea, flaxseed, ginkgo, iron, magnesium, St. John’s wort, and yohimbe
  • Drugs that had the greatest number of reported interactions with herbs and dietary supplements were aspirin, digoxin, insulin, ticlopidine, and warfarin
  • Types of problems associated with combining herbs or dietary supplements with medications included abdominal pain, chest pain, headache, and mild to severe heart problems
  • Slightly more than 26 percent of the herb and drug interactions were major
  • More than 42 percent of the drug interactions were caused by the herb or dietary supplement changing how a drug was absorbed, metabolized, and eliminated from the body
  • Herbs and other botanical remedies were more likely to have reported drug interactions than were dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

That being said, not all mixtures are bad. In fact some studies have shown that mixing ginseng while getting chemotherapy can be very beneficial.

Bottom Line

If you are going to be taking any type of drugs while taking herbal or natural supplements, consult your physician so that you know if they are safe to mix.

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