With the rising costs of doctors’ visits and prescription drugs, especially among those with limited or no insurance coverage, many are randomly choosing vitamins and supplements found at their local grocery, department, or health food stores to heal their woes. However, many don’t realize that some over-the-counter (OTC) dietary and herbal supplements can result in serious harm when mixed with certain medications prescribed by your doctor.

The month of July is designated as Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month serving as a “public health awareness campaign…to inform the public that herbal supplements can cause potentially dangerous drug interactions when taken with certain medications.” For example, The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health outlines specific herbs that cause interactions with medicines, such as St. John’s wort, Goldenseal, Asian Ginseng, Echinacea, Gingko Biloba, Kava, and some “concentrated garlic extracts” and even green tea supplements. With hundreds of dietary and herbal supplements available on the market and in the wild, most doctors are ill-informed about these herb-drug interactions. Yet, you should still do your part and inform your healthcare provider of any and all medications consumed especially herbal or homeopathic remedies to minimize the risk of serious harm.

Since people of all ages – not just the elderly – are now looking for ways to keep themselves healthier on a budget, it would behoove you – to be your own advocate – share what you are taking with your doctor but also do your part by researching the drugs you take or are offered. Below is a link to a website that empowers you to explore any possible interactions between two or more prescription drugs against common herbs and other OTC medicines. Please note that such checkers are based on scientific research, so it’s not all inconclusive. Basically, not all herbs have been tested against every drug out there. Nonetheless, this is a great start for the DIY healer.

Drug & Herb Interactions Checker: https://reference.medscape.com/drug-interactionchecker

NOTE: This article was originally published in the July 2021 newsletter: Mixing Herbs and Prescription Drugs. Want to stay in the know? Click here to join our mailing list.

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