Did you know that many herbal or dietary supplements may interact with your prescription
medications? According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, as many as 25% of U.S. adults
take a dietary or herbal supplement in addition to prescribed medication. While many of these
supplements are harmless and may even be beneficial on their own, there can be potentially serious
adverse effects when taken with certain prescription medications. In addition, most herbal
supplements are not actively investigated or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Here is a list of common supplements and their potential interactions:
Commonly taken to strengthen the immune system. It is known to interact with
certain chemotherapy agents, some anti-depressants, and antipsychotics.
Known for improving cardiovascular health and bone support. Studies show it may
interact with hypertension medication, Xenical, and some anti-coagulants. It may increase
bleeding risk, especially if already taking medications such as NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Motrin,
naproxen), aspirin or other drugs that increase bleeding risk. It may accentuate blood pressure
reducing medication effects, causing low blood pressure.
Commonly taken for poor circulation and to improve memory. Studies show it may
interact with aspirin, diuretics, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants. In addition, it may interact
with aspirin, coumadin, Plavix, and other blood-thinning medications.
To best prevent interactions, take your full medication list to visits with your physician or advanced
practice provider. Be sure to include over-the-counter medications, herbal and dietary supplements, and
prescribed medications. Review these with your practitioner to determine potential interactions and
your best course of treatment. Be aware that some supplements can have unwanted effects before,
during or after surgery. Advise your surgeon of your full medication list. You may be advised to stop
taking some of your supplements 2-3 weeks prior to surgery.
Dr. Brian Cooper, D.O., CMD
Regional Medical Director, Texas