Penn Herb Wellness Guide
What Are Drug-Nutrient Interactions?
Body chemistry & health
Your body functions because millions of chemical reactions are constantly going on inside you. Everything that you eat and drink influences those reactions, including foods, beverages, and drugs.
Medicines are manufactured to help correct the body’s chemistry when irregularities are caused by illness or genetic makeup. When the body isn’t working properly, drugs can often replace a missing chemical, block an unwanted reaction, or enhance a desired reaction
Using medicines with vitamins & herbs (RxAnswers)
When a nutrient or herb influences the effect of a drug—either positively or negatively—or when a drug influences the effect of a nutrient or herb, it’s known as an “interaction.”
- An example of a good result of an interaction might be when a person taking the drug fluoxetine (Prozac) also takes the nutrient folic acid. This combination may increase the drug’s effectiveness.
- An example of a bad result of an interaction might be a person taking the herb St. John’s wort while taking the drug digoxin (Lanoxin), as the herb may reduce drug absorption, resulting in lower blood levels of the drug than are needed.
Types of interactions
Aisle7 provides interaction information for drugs, nutritional supplements, herbs, and specific foods. Medications are indexed alphabetically by their generic and brand names. The summary table lists supplements, herbs, and foods that may interact with the medicine in one or more of the following ways:
|Replenish Depleted Nutrients:This medication may deplete this substance from the body or interfere with how it works; extra intake may help replenish it.|
|Reduce Side Effects:This substance may help reduce the likelihood and/or severity of a potential side effect caused by the medication.|
|Support Medicine:This substance may help this medication work better.|
|Potential Negative Interaction:When taking this medication, avoid this substance, as the combination may cause undesirable or dangerous interactions.|
|Reduces Effectiveness:When taking this medication, avoid this substance as it may decrease the medication's absorption and/or activity in the body.|
|Explanation Required:When taking this medication, read these details and discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist before taking this substance.|
Click on any substance in the table to see further details, references, and the science strength.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my drug is causing an interaction?
Usually a person does not know that a drug is depleting a nutrient until the body shows symptoms of deficiency. In some cases, your healthcare provider might run blood tests to check whether nutrient levels are low. For example, people taking the diuretic furosemide should have potassium and magnesium blood levels monitored regularly to detect depletion.
You might notice a bad interaction if your drug stops working as effectively or if you develop unwanted symptoms when you begin taking a new nutrient or add a new food to your diet. Similarly, you might notice a beneficial interaction if your drug starts working better after adding a new food or nutrient.
As natural substances, are herbs and vitamins safer than drugs?
Herbs and vitamins are not necessarily safer just because they are natural. Some might produce unwanted side effects when a person takes too much. And if you are taking medications, you should always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking new herbs or nutritional supplements.
When nutrients are depleted, are supplements the only way to replace them?
Though supplements are more commonly used than foods to replace depleted nutrients, certain foods may also work. For example, people who need to replace potassium might choose to eat more bananas or other fruit when trying to correct or protect against a deficiency.
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Information expires December 2023.