Herb-Drug Interactions

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Herb-Drug Interactions

Postby karen joy » Thu Aug 03, 2006 2:05 pm

This is a subject often questioned. We want to know if an herb is contraindicated with a particular drug. This is an important topic in my opinion, so I would like to start a thread here. I am only beginning my deeper search on this so can post websites as I find them that pique my curiosity. I would also love to know what other resources you have - websites, books, periodicals....

Many of us ask "what herb can we use when dealing with...?" And some pop in with one sentence or several word answers "Take this....!" It is up to us taking our care into our own hands to know the details and this is one. Only occasionally do I hear, "what drugs are you taking?" As one who like to say "Try this...!" I want to know even better possible concerns especially the more blatant ones. The most common I hear of is with Hypericum, but even want to know this more thoroughly. Plus I imagine the "facts" change and it would be nice to have a central source to keep up.

Looking at some of the websites, they say very general info like "may increase effects of anti coagulation drugs, and cause excessive bleeding" I would like to know more detail about the effects... plus this always gets my curiosity.... If the drug thins the blood and the herb thins the blood, is it automatic that it is the herb I should discontinue?

Sometimes too there may not be a listing already done of possible herb and drug interaction, especially when the drug is new (as they often are it seems), so it would be helpful to be a step ahead and know more about the action of the herb and the action of the drug on the body, to judge for ourselves.

I add a word of caution for the simplicity of sites that say this herb is contraindicated for.... They rarely describe what part of the herb, harvested when, prepared how, administered in what dose.... and we all know this is essential information!!

This is the first site of interest to me. It lists links to studies and writings on the topic, seeming to be from various viewpoints, i.e. doctor, herbalist, acupuncturist, pharmacist, etc.
http://www.interactionreport.org/resources.html
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Postby wildflower » Fri Aug 04, 2006 8:36 am

You know, I have a really good book for that somewhere in my collection... But I can't find it and can't remember the exact title. In my opinion, they were so thorough with "Don't take this herb with these drugs" that it was almost taking it too far.

Let me look for it and I'll pop back here once I find it.
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Postby GrannySam » Fri Aug 04, 2006 9:45 am

I have used this site before, when working with people who are on several drugs but want to try herbs as well.

http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/Interactio ... 9,,00.html

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Postby WindDrinker » Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:04 am

Hello Karen Joy -
The following site is excellent. It deals directly with interaction of herbs to prescription drugs.

www.drugdigest.org (go to the drug library section)
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Postby karen joy » Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:41 pm

Ooh winddrinker and granny sam, thank you for the links! Looks like you both have the same site :) Wildflower, yes, I would love to know the name of the book. I remember a few years back talking with a nurse who mentioned a good book. I am not too patient with searching through the internet and instead prefer to lean back with a book... though then there is the issue of keeping up to date. I look forward to hearing the name, thank you all.

Karen Joy
...You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves...

from "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver
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Postby Willow » Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:02 pm

I have the 2nd edition of the PDR for Herbal Medicines.
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Postby karen joy » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:38 am

Willow and Wildflower is this the book... PDR of Herbal Medicines. 3rd Edition?

Ah, here is an example of my concern on the simplicity of these sources...

From Drugdigest.com on Chaste Tree, Vitex: "Women with hormone-dependent conditions such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and cancers of the breast, ovaries, or uterus should not take chaste tree berries due to their possible effects on hormone levels."

So because this herb may effect hormone levels we should not take it if our hormone levels need effecting!!! Way too simplistic, when I understand this herb to help nourish our own regulation of hormone levels making it supreme for those with fibroids especially! This is like all the books and even herbals that say "do not take this herb while pregnant" when some people actually wish the effect that herb will have on their pregnancy.... Also reminds me of conversations with people that vascilate between poo-poo-ing herbs as ineffectual for anything serious, and admonishing me for suggesting them since they are so dangerous!! Do they affect us or not, yes they do, so we need to know how they affect us and if the effect is one we want.... a little bit of a blood boil on this subject for me.... Oh yes, reminds me of another story, after listening about how my sister in law (at the time) had added to her social work practice by studying for the past couple WEEKS drugs so she could prescribe them to the inmates she was working with. It was a registered course through which she would get credentials or some such thing and she and her husband, my brother in law were very proud of her new knowledge and ability. Within the same day he came and visited me on the computer answering herbal question emails, something I have been doing for over 4 years now, while studying herbal medicine for nearly 15 years! and asked if I actually gave advice or just referred people to other sources, since I was not qualified in his eyes to be messing with such a dangerous thing. The man who opted for sleeping pills over my "useless" herbal preparations to help him sleep....

okay enough of a rant, back to work

Karen Joy :D ;)
...You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves...

from "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver
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Postby karen joy » Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:45 am

hmmm, and looking at a sample page of the above mentioned PDR I wonder if an herb can increase the effect of a drug if this is always a bad thing? I imagine it is automatically assumed "can't take" but I wonder if any study how to work with these together. I know it would need monitoring, but perhaps if an herb increases an effect of a drug one might opt for less drug dosage and the herbs to compliment... hmmmm...

kj
...You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves...

from "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver
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Postby lindasu » Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:51 pm

well, i think that can get a bit tricky. an example of drug enhancement that might be ok is when caffeine enhances the pain killing qualities of aspirin but i'm not so sure we'd want to enhance the blood thining effects of coumadin by giving ginko.
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Postby Willow » Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:56 pm

I have the second edition. I remember, years ago, an ER doctor freaked when I told him I took some herbals...he really tried to put the fear of herbs in me. :roll: And I don't think that it is always a bad thing if an herb can increase the effect of a drug. I think, depending on the situation,
and the drugs and herbals involved, it can turn out to be a good thing. But that's just my opinion.
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Postby seekerofspirit » Tue Aug 15, 2006 2:59 pm

Karen Joy,
I'm impressed at your desire to truly understand how herbs effect the body's physiology. Do you have any personal ways of describing or theories concerning how an herb effects the body's functions when it is ingested? I graduated college with my degree in Emergency Medical Services, and one of the things that I had to learn in depth was pharmacology.

I wonder if herbs work in the body the same way drugs do, which is by binding to specific target receptor sites, and causing a physiological response? Unlike pharmaceutical drugs however, these herbs mediate and balance the bodies reaction to them due to the herbs immeasurable qualities, and innumerable amount of other constituents that may work in a balancing, mediating and complimentary way.

That is just one possible explanation, and it is based on scientific ideas, so I don't know how true it is pertaining to herbal medicine. What are everyone else's ideas concerning the way herbs effect the body?

If we can learn herbs on a deep level, as in how each individual herb effects physiology, it might help us understand naturally what types of symptoms and drugs are contrandicated with this particular herbs use.

Also, it seems that in reality no one is really sure how herbs and drugs interact. Think about it: MOST ALLOPATHIC PRACTITIONERS DON'T HAVE A CLUE THEMSELVES AS TO THE EXTENT OF HOW THEIR OWN PHARMACEUTICAL MEDICINES ARE WORKING. If you add the mystery of an herb, plus the uniqueness of an person, plus the science of a drug there is no telling what the end result would be!

So I think as herbalists, it is very wise of us to learn for example that Angelica thins the blood, and therefore is contraindicated or should be used with caution in those who are prone to heavy bleeding due to any imbalance, or those who are on pharmaceutical drugs that thin the blood. However, like you mentioned Karen, these things MIGHT not mean that Angelica is absolutely contraindicated and can't be used.

I'm really thinking now...thanks Karen!

One more thing: Is it not true that the majority if not all of our Drug/Herb interaction resources are scientific based. This to me sends up a red flag as the few times I have referenced these sources, I was not impressed with the information they had concerning the herbs.

Does anyone know of any HERBAL resources concerning drug/herb interactions?

Also, as far as drug/herb interactions are concerned, if a person came to me with a long list of suppliments and or pharmaceutical drugs, or even herbal medicines they were taking, I would probably want to wean them off as many of these medicines as possible, starting with nourishment. Maybe just ONE nourishing herbal infusion that could potentially provide symptomatic support as well. In my humble opinion, it isn't safe for a person to have a list of any type of medicine that they are required to take for long periods of time, with an exception maybe with the herbs that can be used as food-stuffs.


Interesting topic,
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Postby wildflower » Tue Aug 15, 2006 3:34 pm

No, it was something else. I need to organize my books but there are a lack of bookshelves in my house right now.
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oatstraw

Postby knittyknatty » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:14 am

I used drugdigest successfully, but Oatstraw was not on their list. Is it not well known enough? Is it mild enough that I should not be too worried about it? Currently, I am taking it just as a tea, so should I be concerned about interactions?
:?:
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Postby lindasu » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:55 am

I can't imagine that Oatstraw would be listed in anything regarding drug interactions. It would be like listing oatmeal. :D
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Postby knittyknatty » Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:59 am

:lol: Thank you, I hadn't though of it that way.
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