Over the past few years I’ve noticed an increase of individuals taking their health ailments into their own hands. They are slowly switching to natural medicine and finding that natural medicine provides them with the tools that they need to manage their health with and without the use of western medicine.
When seeing your physician, primary care provider, one of the questions they should be asking is; are you taking any herbal or alternative medications. This will make a huge difference if they are to prescribe western medicine to help with your illness/ailment. A drug and drug interaction can occur when two or more drugs react with each other. This may cause you to experience an unexpected side effect. An example would be; mixing a drug you take to help you sleep (a sedative) and a drug you take for allergies (an antihistamine) can slow your reactions and make driving a car or operating machinery dangerous. A drug and food interaction can result from drugs reacting with foods or certain beverages. For example, mixing alcohol with some drugs may cause you to feel tired or slow your reactions. A drug and certain condition interactions may occur when an existing medical condition makes certain drugs potentially harmful. If you have high blood pressure you could experience an unwanted reaction if you take a nasal decongestant.
Up to now there have not been very many episodes recorded of drug-herb-vitamin interactions, yet since the first such reports were known about 10 years ago, a possible issue has been raised; that we know so little about herbs and vitamins and their potential for interactions with western medications. By combining some herbs with drugs, it can cause a toxic effect within one’s body if the patient or physician is not aware of the drug, herb, or vitamin interactions.
Some interactions may include having an herb part cause either an increase or decrease in how much of the drug remains in the patient’s blood stream. A reduction in the measure of medication could happen by some herb parts tying up the medication and keeping it from getting into the circulation system from the gastrointestinal tract, or by stimulating the production and activity of enzymes that degrade the drug and prepare it for elimination from the body.
An increase in the drug dosage could occur when an herb component aids absorption of the drug, or inhibits the enzymes that break down the drug and prepare it for elimination. A decrease in drug dosage by virtue of an interaction could make the drug ineffective. In doing so, an increase in drug dosage could make it reach levels that produce side effects. Also, a herb might produce an effect that is contrary to the effect desired for the drug, thereby reducing the drug effect; or, a herb might produce the same kind of effect as the drug and give an increase in the drug effect, and thereby, not showing an increase in the amount of the drug.
- Be sure to keep a list of all your herbal supplements and western medicines that you are taking.
- Do your research on your herbal supplements and interactions it may have with other herbs or medications.
- Always inform your primary care provider if you are about to introduce an herbal supplement to your list of medications to make sure that there are no harmful interactions.
- Ask questions about your herbal supplements or medications
Book recommendation: A-Z Guide to Drug~Herb~Vitamin Interactions (Alan R. Gaby, MD and the Healthnotes Medical Team)