7 Drugs, Vitamins, and Herbs You Should Never Mix
Can you safely take vitamins and herbs with pharmacological drugs? For the last two decades, most of my patients have used combinations of vitamins and minerals with conventional drugs (while reducing their reliance on medication) without any serious side effects.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't be cautious, however. The literature is loaded with studies demonstrating that herbs—like drugs—can trigger adverse and dangerous reactions. The New England Journal of Medicine, for example, reported that eight patients who used a commercial combination of herbs to treat prostate cancer experienced negative side effects like swelling of the veins, blood clots and skin rash.
Here are 7 mixtures you should avoid:
1. Never take long-acting niacin if you take statin-like drugs. A combination of the two could cause excessive metabolic stress to the liver. Remember, long-acting niacin in gram doses acts like a drug. Small doses of short-acting preparations are fine.
2. Do not take standard dosages of Gingko biloba (120-240 mg daily) if you're on the blood-thinner Coumadin or aspirin, bleeding may occur.
3. If you're on Digoxin, take hawthorn berry only under a physician's guidance. This combo could slow your heart rate too much.
4. If you're taking Digoxin with beta blockers, avoid large doses of vitamin E (more than 800 IU) and magnesium (more than 600 mg), as this combination may cause an additional heart-rate slowing.
5. Never use St. John's wort, a natural supplement for depression, with anti-depressive drugs like Paxil, Prozac, or Zoloft. An overdose of serotonin, the brain's "happy hormone", may occur, resulting in serotonin excess, which manifests itself as irritability, dry mouth and insomnia.
6. Do not use the herbs valerian root or passion flower if you take tranquilizers like Valium or Xanax because this combination can make you drowsier.
7. Never take grapefruit juice with any prescription drug. The liver can be literally overwhelmed metabolizing grapefruit. It does so via the P450 pathway—the same metabolic superhighway your body uses to break down and absorb many common drugs.
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Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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