Q & A Library
Is It Dangerous to Combine Supplements and Drugs?
I'm curious about interactions between herbs and drugs. Are there many that we should worry about?
Answer (Published 12/10/2004)
For the most part, I think warnings about interactions between herbs and drugs are overstated. For example, a few years ago the American Society of Anesthesiologists warned that certain herbs and supplements could pose a hazard to patients undergoing surgery. The group claimed that several herbs have anti-blood-clotting activity and conceivably could interfere with clotting during and after surgery. St. John's wort was also singled out in 2003 as an agent that could diminish the effectiveness of certain drugs because of its effect on enzyme systems involved in drug metabolism. (Many pharmaceutical drugs have the same effect.)
In general, I think you're pretty safe taking most supplements, but you certainly should tell your doctor about anything you're taking regularly, particularly if you're also taking either prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Here's a quick rundown of some commonly used supplements and drugs that could interact to your detriment:
Andrew Weil, M.D.
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