Know the Facts About Drug-Supplement Interactions
A Healthnotes Newswire Opinion
Responsible practitioners, manufacturers, and retailers always emphasize the importance of checking for interactions and side effects
Supplement use is common in the US, and in fact, more than 15 million people use herbs for a variety of conditions including arthritis, anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia, and many others. But a new review article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reminds us of the importance of understanding the risks and benefits of natural treatments and the potential for interactions (when a supplement affects the way a drug works, or when a drug affects the way a supplement works).
Herbal help or harm?
People with cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or heart failure commonly take several medications to help manage their condition, and mixing these medications with herbs and other supplements increases the possibility of interactions. In this new review, researchers examined the medical literature for common herb-drug interactions in people with cardiovascular disease and found:
Beneficial interactions shouldn't be overlooked
Alan Gaby, MD, chief science editor at Aisle7, adds that certain medications may deplete nutrients from or interfere with nutrient absorption in the body, which supplements may replenish. "For example, atorvastatin (Lipitor), which is often prescribed to people with high cholesterol, may deplete the important heart-healthy nutrient coenzyme Q10, which supplements may correct," Gaby said.
Further, Gaby comments, "It's possible that a supplement may sometimes increase a medication's effectiveness or reduce side effects. For example, research has shown that DGL, derived from licorice, may help protect against the side effects from aspirin," Gaby said.
Talk with your doctor, get informed
Be an advocate for your own health: pay real attention to what you put in and on your body, get regular exercise, and--when preventing or treating disease--partner with knowledgeable healthcare practitioners. Make a point of learning the risks and benefits to get the most out of your medication, supplement, and other options.
Keep in mind that responsible practitioners, and supplement manufacturers and retailers always emphasize the importance of checking for interactions and possible side effects. Here are some tips for using supplements wisely:
(J Am Coll Cardiol 2010;55:515-25.)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, Web sites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.