It is a popular belief that because herbs are natural, they are safe and don’t necessarily have any adverse effects. As more scientific evidence is being gathered on the chemistry of herbal medicines, it is becoming evident that certain herbs can indeed change the way some prescription medications work. This is known as a drug-herb interaction.
In some cases, these interactions can cause the prescription medication to be excreted from the body more quickly than normal, or reduce the drugs absorption from the gastrointestinal tract, which can therefore reduce the drugs effectiveness. Conversely, some herbs can augment or strengthen the action of particular medications. Both types of interactions could have potentially dangerous consequences if not identified. An example of some prescription medications that can be detrimentally affected by certain herbs include digitalis (digoxin), the oral contraceptive pill and blood thinning medications like warfarin.
The simple way to avoid the problem of a drug-herb interaction is to be open and honest in your communication with both medical doctors and complementary practitioners in what medications or supplements you are taking. Secondly, going to see a qualified Naturopath or Herbalist will ensure that these potential interactions can be avoided when your treatment plan is being devised, as they have received years of training including understanding the complexities of these potential problems.
In preparation for your appointment, write down all of the medications and supplements (and the dosage you take) so you don’t forget anything, and be sure to let your practitioner know if any of these change over time so modifications to your treatment can be made if required.