What You Need to Know About Mixing Drugs and Herbals

By: Bel Marra Health | General Health | Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 02:43 AM

natural healthIn the last few years, the use of herbal products for the promotion of natural health has increased around the world.  Historically known for its use in Asia, most natural supplements are supported by centuries of use for specific ailments and for improvement of the body and mind.  The current usage of natural supplements has now expanded to the Western world, even including certain herbal products in the practice of modern medicine.  The World Health Organization has estimated that approximately 70% of the global population has now included herbal products, including vitamins and minerals, for maintenance of natural health.

Despite the extensive use of plant-based or natural supplements on a daily basis, the actual impact of these products in the presence of other drugs is limited.  The inclusion of vitamins and minerals as natural supplements for the promotion of natural health has been widely accepted for decades, even while taking other medications.  However, in the case of other natural supplements, there is a need to further examine actual reports and accounts on its interactions with other common prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Why Vitamins and Minerals are Now Staples

Vitamins and minerals are important natural supplements that are commonly included for the maintenance of natural health.  These natural supplements serve as important cofactors in various biochemical reactions in the body, thus facilitating the production of essential proteins for natural health.  For example, vitamin C helps in the repair of tissue damage based on its inherent nature of acting as an antioxidant.  On the other hand, potassium is a very useful mineral in maintaining electrolyte balance in the body.  Taking vitamins and minerals on a regular basis may thus enhance various activities of the body.

The Positive Effects on Your Natural Health

In the case of herbal products other than vitamins and minerals, its positive effects on natural health are likewise endless, yet investigations on its interactions with other drugs are limited.  Similar to safety issues related to taking several medications at the same time, mixing herbals and drugs may also result in drug interactions. According to a latest report published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Medicine and Outcomes Research, possible interactions between herbal products and drugs should be examined to determine whether this might generate a reaction that could be of clinical significance.  The report recognizes the diverse uses for natural supplements, including vitamins and minerals, and thus it has been employed in the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions.

Unfortunately, most of the studies on herb-drug interactions were conducted using non-human subjects and thus it may be difficult to directly determine its actual significance to natural health.  Our current understanding of these interactions thus includes changes in the functioning of the gastrointestinal system, thus altering the rate of absorption of either the herbal product or the drug.  The same may also occur with vitamins and minerals, wherein the effects of these natural supplements may be decreased in the presence of another drug.

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