Supplement-Drug Interactions, Can “Natural” or Herbal Still Be Dangerous?:
We all want to be super-healthy , but science still doesn’t have all the answers.
The response to that can unfortunately be both self-diagnosis and self-medication.
We’ve said before that serious use of supplements without a registered herbalist is biochemistry-gambling.
But a new type of health-roulette seems to be rearing its ugly head.
Medical patients who are already on prescription drugs, and insist on taking supplements.
-At. the. same. f***ing. time…
Conjunction Junction, What’s Your Function?:
Amazing, I know.
The problem starts with what we all know.
Prescription Drugs are the opposite of Homeopathy.
They are very carefully-designed, targeted,
And above-all, very concentrated and powerful.
And even at the best of times, they still have side-effects.
On the opposite side of that, many times they just don’t do enough…
But What Does Someone Do When The Drug Doesn’t Fix It?:
Powerful or-not, some people still aren’t getting the results they want from those prescription-drugs,
So they try an add-on in the form of informally-researched Folk Medicine or Bro-Science.
-And the more serious the problem, the more serious people are about finding every solution they can.
Again, you can’t really blame them for that.
Unfortunately, if taken in the right dose, supplements really can be effective too (although the FDA sues people for saying that)
Supplements Aren’t Drugs, But Enough Of Them Can Still Screw Things Up:
But what happens when you get two powerful chemical compounds in your body at the same time?
-Sometimes even Lethal ones…
So here we are, short of the expansive-yet-shallow databases at sites like WebMD,
-Which all of these people should have consulted in the first-place,
There is probably still a limited set of resources out there on supplement-drug interactions,
Short of a professional herbalist.
Research To The Rescue! Here’s What Will Kill You, Probably:
And to that end, a team of South African researchers from their Medical Research Council and Stellenbosch University looked into the matter.
That work resulted in a list of some of the most dangerous and frequently-occurring supplement-drug interactions.
And here’s a part of their List:
1) Problem: Cardiovascular Disease
Ia) Drugs Taken: Blood-thinners like Warfarin, Cholesterol Statins like Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor
Ib) Supplements That Interact: Sage, Flaxseed, St. John’s Wort, Cranberry, Goji Berry Juice (and the berries too?), Green Tea, Chamomile, Sheg-Mai Yin
2) Problem: Kidney Transplant
IIa) Drugs Taken: Prograf, Neoral
Ib) Supplements That Interact: St. John’s Wort, Turmeric (acts like an MAOI, btw), Chamomile Tea
3) Problem: Depression & Seizure Disorders
IIIa) Drugs Taken: Effexor, Zoloft
IIIb) Supplements That Interact: Ginkgo Biloba, Mentat, Celery Root
When There’s A Bad Reaction, Supplements Are Frequently At-Fault:
And these interactions were likely culprits up to at-least 50% of the time a patient had a bad reaction to something.
The actual number might be even higher due to errors in reporting.
-Which is not a surprise, because about the same percentage of Americans take a supplement of some kind.
Some people even take more than 1 supplement, so many times just one can’t be singled-out as the cause.
The most frequent interactions were in people being medicated for cardiovascular-disease with either cholesterol or blood-pressure drugs.
Here’s What The Usual Interactions With Supplements And Drugs Look Like:
Not to mention, that in-general, any herb (even a good one) that is likely to have the same effect as a drug is likely to do 1 of 2 things:
1) Multiply the effect of that drug. -One example is anything that thins-out the blood or increases circulation.
2) Blunt the absorption-rate of that drug through metabolism, in a rare contradictory effect.
And of-course the bonus of that is the experimenters end-up with another problem that they have to go in and get treated-for again, many times at an expensive emergency room.
Supplement Not Doing Enough? Just Take More Of It, Right?:
One more consideration is also over-dosing or mega-dosing of refined natural substances.
For Example, if you get huge doses of cinnamon over several days, it actually works as a type of antibiotic and kills almost all the microbes in your GI tract.
Cloves, Grapefruit Seed, and Oil of Oregano have similar effects.
As people try to increase the effects of natural supplements by really upping the dosage a lot,
You can get bigger and more serious drug-interactions when things go wrong.
And overdosing is not uncommon at all in the supplement world.
Even The Prescrption Drug Guys Double-Up:
Again, you can’t really blame people who need all the help they can get for trying.
And even the “official” pharmaceutical community recognizes what they’re doing, and copies it.
That is the entire premise for the drug Abilify,
And the concept of “drug cocktails” in the first place.
But remember, Noah’s Ark vs.The Titanic notwithstanding, those were engineered by professionals.
So if at all possible, people should REALLY leave serious chemistry to those pros!
And if you’re going to take all that risk to experiment on yourself,
At-least research the herbal supplement + prescription drug interactions as much as you can first so the worst doesn’t happen to you!
Photo Credits: “hot totsy”, by Jeremy Brooks
• Source: SAMRC
• More Coverage: WebMD-Drug Interaction Checker
• Source Study: J.BritishPharmaSoc. – Critical evaluation of causality assessment of herb–drug interactions in patients