According to the dictionary a herb is a flowering plant whose stem aboveground does not become woody, such a plant is valued for its medicinal properties,flavor, sent or the like. Many people use herbs for their health benefits and disease prevention as well as treatment. I am a big believer in most things natural and prefer to use what God has made rather than what man has made. Our bodies just seem to relate better to the God made stuff. That being said – caution must also be used when taking herbal supplements. Some of them can be dangerous or even toxic taken in large doses or along with certain medication.
Drug interactions with herbs can lead to problems. There are four steps that should be taken for detecting herbal/drug interaction. Question number one – is the patient taking any herbal supplements? Question number two – is the herb established for the intended use? Question number three – does the product come from a reliable source? Question number four – does the prescription drug have a narrow therapeutic margin? Because of technical nature of these questions – I feel this is something that should be addressed by a healthcare professional, or someone with a background in natural remedies.
Let’s take a look at a few commonly used herbs and see what drugs they interact with. Garlic is one of the most popular herbs on the market and is used for his heart benefits as well as the immune system support, however garlic can create problems if taken with birth control pills. Coumadin or generic warfarin should not be taken along with garlic supplements. Warfarin is used to slow blood clotting. Garlic might increase the effectiveness of warfarin. Taking these two substances together might increase bleeding or bruising.
Another popular herb is echinacea. It is commonly used to boost the immune system and reduce the symptoms of a cold or flu if started when his symptoms first began. However, echinacea cannot prevent colds or flu. The one big interaction with echinacea is with immuno suppressant medications. These drugs are used to treat cancer and suppress the system after or transplant so the new organ is not rejected by the body. Because echinacea can bolster the immune system, people should not use it with immuno suppressive medication, especially when they are used for organ transplants.
The subject of herbal interactions is one that will continue to get more and more attention as folks look to natural remedies for answers. I suggest doing your research using a drug interaction Checker on the Internet, or consulting webmd drugs. Your doctor or pharmacist can also be of great help. Just do your homework first.