If you’re using an herbal supplement to improve your health, you should beware of some deadly combination’s with prescription medications. Most of us think herbs are natural so they are safe, but that’s not always true. I will only discuss some of the more common herbs and prescription drug combination’s that could have devastating effects:

1) Garlic– Other than bad breath, most of us take garlic for our immune system or to lower our cholesterol. However, if you are taking any kind of blood thinners like Warfarin or aspirin, it could cause excessive bleeding. In addition, if the individual is taking Immunosuppressant medications, it may decrease there effectiveness. For diabetics, it could cause a drop in blood sugar.

2) Gingko Biloba– An herb that’s used to help with memory and depression is also dangerous when combined with anti-depressant medication. When taken with anti-depressants, Ginko Biloba may increase prescription drug levels in the blood. Like Garlic, Ginko may also increase the risk of bleeding when combined with blood thinners.

3) Kava– This herb is primarily used for relaxation and sleep. It can be damaging to the liver and cause comas when taken with sleeping pills, anti psychotic medicine, alcohol or drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

4) Sam-E- Used to ease the symptoms of depression and sometimes joint pain. When taken with SSRI antidepressants, a person can have a small risk of developing Serotonin Syndrome, which is dangerously high serotonin levels that can cause headaches, upset stomach, restlessness and even coma.

5) Saint Johns Wort– Another herb used to treat depression, can weaken the effectiveness of antibiotics and birth control pills if taken together. It can be especially dangerous when taken with cancer drugs, heart medication and immunosuppressant medications and may also cause serotonin syndrome if taken with SSRI anti depressants.

6) Dong Quai– This herb is often used to ease the discomfort of premenstrual syndrome and cramps. It too can increase your risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinning medication. When taken with Saint Johns Wort, and certain antibiotics it can increase a persons sensitivity to the sun.

7) Echinacea- The herb most commonly used to boost the immune system, may cause liver damage, when taken with anabolic steroids, hormone precursors like DHEA, benzodiazepines, calcium channel blockers or HIV protease inhibitors. It may also interfere with immunosuppressant medications for organ transplant patients.

Remember to always check with your doctor before taking anything with prescription medication. Always rule on the side of caution, especially before surgical procedures. As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
The above information was obtained from SHAPE Magazines, March 2005 issue- Deadly Combos by Mary Jane Horton.