Some Herbal Supplements may Have Drug Interactions

When we think of herbal supplementation we have a tendency to think of overall health and wellness. The truth is that herbal supplements have been used throughout history by cultures all over the world for thousands of years. Many of today’s medications are based on herbal extractions from botanicals including penicillin, morphine, reserpine and anti-cancer drugs, vinca alkaloid.


The increased interest and adoption of over the counter nutraceuticals and herbal supplements has also brought new awareness on the topic of drug interactions. Many people may not know that the supplement they are taking is one that actually is used to produce the medications that they are on. An example of this is ‘red rice yeast’. This common herbal supplement became popular as a natural blood thinner or for blood pressure problems.  Unfortunately, people were adding red rice yeast in addition to their standard blood pressure medication, which caused major health problems and even death.  Due to this problem, the FDA required all red rice yeast manufacturers to remove the active ingredient in their supplements that assisted in the reduction of blood pressure.


Herbal supplements are available in a number of different forms: powdered, dried leaves for tea drinking, tablets, solutions and capsules. It is estimated that approximately twenty percent of Americans are currently taking some form of non-herbal or herbal supplement.


The FDA does not regulate supplements, including herbal supplements, but does monitor the content reports and have requested those that may be tainted or problematic to be removed from the market. There is a law in place called the DHSEA Law that assists consumers. It basically says that supplements cannot make outright claims regarding supplements as it relates to disease states and medical problems. Those manufacturers that make such claims are quickly taken to task by the FDA and their products removed from the market.


Just because a product contains the word ‘natural’ does not equate it to being safe. There are many things that are found in nature that are ‘natural’ but are actually poisonous. Before you make any changes to your dietary regiment, confer with your major healthcare provider as well as your pharmacist to ensure that there aren’t any drug interactions.


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