Interactions Between Herbs and Drugs

Herbs and DrugsThe consumption of medicinal plants is not always beneficial, especially when taking medications at the same time.

In recent years, consumption of medicinal plants has been a notable increase. Some studies have shown that one in five patients being treated with drugs consumed while herbs. But they are not without side effects and interactions are possible between the effects of drugs and plants. For this reason, it is necessary that both consumers and health professionals are alert to this possibility, which may involve a risk to health.

Often, it is believed that herbs do not cause adverse effects. Are considered “natural products” and many people consume drugs to replace because they think that no side effects. The fact that they used since antiquity and can be purchased without a prescription, even in department stores, deemed harmless favors and used regardless of the risks and effects.

However, this idea is completely wrong. As plants contain active ingredients that can improve certain health problems, these same chemicals can be harmful. In addition, it is possible that herbs and medications share the same active ingredients.

Medicinal plants commonly consumed

Garlic, Angelica, White Sauce: enhance the effects of anticoagulants and aspirin, so that can cause bleeding.
Cascara: interferes with intestinal absorption of drugs and may decrease its effectiveness.
Hawthorn: potential effect of some drugs in cardiac patients (digoxin) and can cause poisoning by increasing its effects.
Ginseng: increases the effects of anticoagulants and aspirin can cause bleeding. Potentiates the effects of oral antidiabetics with subsequent hypoglycemia. Interfere with some antidepressants may cause manic.
Ginkgo biloba: increases the effects of anticoagulants and aspirin can cause bleeding. May enhance the effects of some antidepressants.
Guar gum: it reduces the effect of some antidiabetic.
Hypericum: interferes with antidepressant medications. May cause drowsiness. Decreases the plasma concentration of many drugs by interfering with its metabolism.
Licorice: can interfere with corticosteroids.
Salvia: potentiates the effects of anticoagulants.
Valerian: potentiates the effects of sedatives.
Psyllium: interferes with absorption of some compounds (iron, calcium, vitamins …).

credit to: Teresa Romanilos

Herbs and Drugs

Herbs and DrugsSome plants use problems are related to confusion with other species of misidentification or contamination of the product, either by microorganisms or chemicals. On the other hand, are also possible variations in content of active ingredients according to geographical area, the station that were harvested or the plant used. As in the medication, can cause poisoning and allergic reactions.

Often, the use of herbs overlaps with that of the drug used for the same health problem or for another. In this case, the active elements of the plant can interact with the drug and cause variations in their effect. It can affect both drug absorption and their distribution, metabolism or excretion. As for the absorption of drugs when there is an interaction, herbal remedies to reduce levels of drug, thereby decreasing its therapeutic activity.

Another aspect to consider is that many have a laxative effect and cause a decrease in the absorption of certain elements such as calcium, iron, lithium or oral anticoagulants. It may also alter the pH and gastrointestinal motility and promote the formation of nonabsorbable complexes.

Medicinal plants can cause the drug is free in the blood and change its distribution, ie, transport of drug in the blood to the point where it exerts its action. One of the most important interactions were recorded in drug metabolism. St. John’s wort would be the case, an inducer of cytochrome P450, key in the metabolism of many substances. In addition, herbs with diuretic drugs may interfere with renal elimination.

Additive effects can also develop and power between medicinal plants. This happens in herbs with sedative or hypotensive, which could increase the action of drugs with these characteristics. Again, St. John’s wort, for its antidepressant properties, may interact with some antidepressants with which it shares a similar mechanism of action.

It must remain alert to the consumption of plants, especially when it overlaps with that of certain drugs with the potential to cause clinically relevant interactions, such as anticoagulants, medicines used for epilepsy, drugs for AIDS and immunosuppressants, including . Similarly, these interactions can have a clinically relevant serious diseases or people with liver or kidney failure, and polypharmacy in patients in whom the likelihood of an interaction increases significantly. In this case, the elderly have increased susceptibility to suffer them.

credit to: Teresa Romanilos