The Dangerous Interaction Between Herbal Remedies and Prescription Medication

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Modern medication is derived from herbal remedies used for thousands of years. In fact, it wasn’t until 150 years ago did we start using drugs made from a cocktail of chemicals.

Although herbal remedies and drugs can work together to treat a certain ailment, some could cause adverse reactions. So always consult your doctor before mixing herbal treatments with prescription medication.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration or FDA, herbal remedies do not have the same effectiveness and safety studies as prescription medication. Any tainted herbal remedies are taken off the market to protect public health.

While “all-natural” or herbal remedies seem harmless, they can be dangerous when mixed with certain drugs. And in today’s post, we are listing down herbs that could cause adverse reactions when mixed with certain drugs:

Black Cohosh and Anti-Cholesterol Drugs and Pain Medication

Black cohosh is a medicinal shrub native in North America. It’s often used to ease menopausal symptoms, uterine spasms, vaginitis and other reproductive disorders.

But when mixed with atorvastatin, acetaminophen, and alcohol, the herb becomes toxic to the liver. The drug will start breaking down liver enzymes, causing serious toxicity.

Coenzyme Q10 and Anti-Coagulant Drugs

Coenzyme Q10 is a popular nutrient that delays the signs of aging. This compound occurs naturally in the body, particularly in the kidneys, liver, heart and pancreas. But when mixed with drugs – like anticoagulants warfarin – coenzyme Q10 will thin out the blood, causing bleeding.

Cranberry Juice and Anti-Coagulant Drugs

Cranberry juice is loaded with vitamin C. This nutrient acts as an antioxidant. It delays the signs of aging, boosts the immune system and protects from infections. But when drank with certain drug – like anticoagulant warfarin – it could lead to bruising and excessive bleeding. So if you take blood-thinners, ask your doctor the right amount of cranberry juice you have to take every day.

Evening Primrose Oil and Anti-Seizure Medication

Evening primrose oil is an essential oil derived from an herb called Oenothera biennis or King’s cureall. This plant oil is loaded with essential fatty acids that keep the organs healthy. When applied topically, evening primrose oil will plump up and soften the skin. Unfortunately, when taken with anti-seizure medications – like phenothiazine drugs – it could increase the risk of seizures.

St. John’s Wort with Birth Control, HIV, Anti-Coagulant and SSRIs, TCAs, MAO Inhibitors.

St. John’s wort is often used to treat depression. However, mixing it with various medications can cause serious drug interactions. St. John’s Wort will not interact well with the following drugs: SSRIs, TCAs, MAO Inhibitors, nefazodone, triptans for migraine, dextromethorphan, warfarin, birth control pills, and certain HIV medications.

Ginseng and Anti-Coagulants and Diabetic Drugs

Ginseng is a medicinal root prized for its therapeutic benefits in Asia. It helps energize the body, improves cognitive functions and delays the sign of aging. But when mixed with anti-coagulants, it could lead to bruising and bleeding. When ginseng is taken with diabetic meds, it could cause insulin or oral hypoglycemic.

Ginkgo Biloba and HIV Meds

Just like ginseng, ginkgo Biloba is an extremely popular herb. It’s used to treat everything from Parkinson’s disease to dementia. But when taken with HIV meds, the herb neutralizes the antiviral properties of the drugs. Taking ginkgo Biloba is not advisable when you’re taking drugs such as efavirenz or indinavir. It’s also not advisable for patients taking blood thinners, diabetes drugs, and seizure medications. This herb will cause an adverse reaction to over 500 drugs so make sure to check your doctor first before taking ginkgo Biloba.


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