Don’t mix herbs with your prescriptions

Herbal remedies linked to drug side effects – Telegraph.

Interactions between prescription drugs and herbal or dietary supplements can cause complications including heart problems, chest and abdominal pain and headache, according to a review of existing evidence.

Remedies and supplements including ingredients like St John’s wort, magnesium, calcium, iron and ginkgo caused the greatest issues, researchers reported in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

Experts from the China Medical School in Taiwan studied data from 54 review articles and 31 independent studies involving 213 herbal and dietary supplements and 509 prescribed drugs.

A total of 882 linked effects were observed, with warfarin, insulin, aspirin digoxin and ticlopidine among the drugs which were most affected.

Flaxseed, echinacea and yohimbe, a stimulant and aphrodisiac found in Africa, were the herbal ingredients which were found to cause the greatest number of drug interactions.

It seems these days that one of the most common logical pitfalls is the naturalistic fallacy. It’s everywhere you go, from those natural herbal supplements, natural milk, pretty much everything is marketed as natural at the moment, it’s the big buzz word, probably surpassing organic.

This study highlights that a lot of these herbal remedies aren’t inert and can cause real harm when combined with the wrong kind of drugs.

Tell your doctor if you are taking herbs. Better yet, don’t take herbs before asking your doctor.

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  4 comments for “Don’t mix herbs with your prescriptions

  1. Rand
    November 6, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Ask your pharmacist before you buy. If you’re on prescription meds already, or plan on combining OTC meds (or herbal stuff) then just talk to the pharmacist about potential interactions. It’s what they specialize in. While you’re at it, ask your pharmacist about homeopathic meds (to decide if you need to find yourself another pharmacist)

  2. G
    November 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Here’s how I explain it to people:
    If it has a physiological effect, then that’s in it is a drug. If it’s a drug, it may have effects or side effects or drug interactions you didn’t anticipate. If it’s not well studied, *nobody* knows what those effects might be. If it’s well studied, well, look it up!

    Nothing is “completely safe” if it has a physiological effect.

    If it doesn’t have a physiological effect, then why would you bother with it?

  3. November 6, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    I think the issue is that the companies that market these kinds of thing play into peoples perceptions that they’re all natural and safe so people don’t even think about the fact there might be side effects.

    • Rand
      November 7, 2012 at 2:31 AM

      There’s also the issue that since they aren’t regulated, you have no way of knowing the actual amount of the active agent(s) are contained in a dose…

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