Many of us are looking towards more natural alternatives to deal with common ailments as a means of reducing our use of pharmaceuticals. While there is evidence that these supplements can be quite helpful, and even just as effective as pharmaceutical alternatives, supplements need to be used with caution. Considered dietary supplements by the FDA, the regulation of these substances is very different than regulation on pharmaceutical drugs.
A bigger concern, however, is the potential of supplements to negatively interact with prescription medications. What follows are ten of the most commonly used supplements known to have documented potential for interactions with pharmaceutical drugs.
1. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is a supplement commonly used to treat a variety of conditions from depression, anxiety, and even stomach upset. This supplement is known to have major interactions with many commonly prescribed anxiety medications and birth control pills. There are also known interactions between with many heart medications.
This supplement is often used as an Alzheimer’s preventative and is also used by some to help increase blood flow, particularly to the legs. Ginko should not be taken by those who have issues with blood clotting. It is also not advised to take ginko with any other blood thinners as ginko already acts as a blood thinner.
This supplement is often used as a natural migraine treatment. It has been shown to have negative interaction potential with aspirin. It is also known to interact with medications to reduce blood clotting.
This supplement is used to help reduce risk of high blood pressure. Some even think that this supplement can reduce your risk of certain cancers and prostate problems. Garlic supplements are known to have strong interactions with HIV medications. There is moderate risk of negative interaction with birth control pills and medications that reduce blood clotting.
5. Valerian Root
This supplement is often used as a mild sedative. It can interact negatively with anesthetics.
Ginseng is most commonly used as an immune system booster and to reduce the duration and intensity if cold and flu symptoms. Ginseng should not be taken with drugs intended to slow blood clotting.
7. Vitamin E
Commonly used to alleviate PMS symptoms and cramping. Drugs used to lower blood cholesterol, that reduce blood clotting, and even many cancer treatments can interact negatively with vitamin E supplements.
Oral aloe supplements are used for a variety of ailments, from a general health and wellness aid, to the treatment of osteoarthritis. This supplement is taken for a variety of inflammatory disorders and can even be used to help heal the body after radiation treatment. Aloe is known to have severe interactions with the drug digoxin. There are moderate interactions with many diabetes medications as these can interact causing a dangerous drop in blood sugar.
Most commonly, this supplement is used to treat a variety of different stomach upsets and inflammatory conditions. Ginger should not be taken in conjunction with medications that reduce blood clotting or diabetes drugs.
10. Saw Palmetto
Commonly used to treat symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate. Shown to have potential interactions with hormones like estrogen or birth control pills.
This list is by no means exhaustive. It does, however, contain ten of the most commonly used supplements taken that are known to carry risks for negative interactions with certain pharmaceutical drugs.
While supplements can be very helpful in treating a variety of conditions in a natural way, it is advised to use caution when considering an herbal supplement as an addition to one’s health regimen. These supplements have the potential to dangerously interact with many commonly prescribed pharmaceutical drugs and can have fatal consequences.