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Interactions between medications and one or more nutrients, known as drug-nutrient interactions, can occur. Nutrients refer to the vitamins and minerals found in herbal supplements that we consume. When a medication interacts with a nutrient or herb, it can lead to unwanted side effects. Let’s explore common mistakes people make with herbs, supplements, and food.


Herbs are potent natural remedies that should not be underestimated. They can act as antagonists to certain medications, enhance their effects, or interact with them. When taking herbal supplements or vitamins enriched with herbs, caution is necessary as these combinations can be harmful, especially when taken with certain prescription medications.

Chrysanthemum Flowers, Cinnamon, Feverfew, Gingko, Turmeric, Ginseng, Golden Seal, and St. John’s Wort interact with blood thinners. These herbs act as natural blood thinners and can interfere with blood thinner medications like Warfarin, potentially causing bleeding or thromboembolism.

Echinacea interacts with immunosuppressants. It stimulates T-cells and should not be used if you are taking immunosuppressants.

Saw Palmetto should be avoided with estrogen (oral contraceptives), digoxin, cyclosporine, and MAOIs.

St. John’s Wort interacts with many prescription medications. It can increase drug metabolism and reduce effectiveness. Avoid St. John’s Wort when using oral contraceptives, omeprazole, lansoprazole, SSRIs, Warfarin, tricyclic antidepressants, and protease inhibitors.

Licorice increases digoxin toxicity, intensifies side effects of MAOIs, and interacts with diuretics.

Gingko might reduce the efficacy of anticonvulsants (phenytoin) and intensify the side effects of MAOIs.

Ginseng interacts with aspirin and Warfarin (increasing bleeding), antihyperglycemic drugs (lowering blood sugar), corticosteroids and estrogen (intensifying side effects), digoxin (increasing digoxin levels), and reduces the effectiveness of opioids. It is also incompatible with MAOIs.

Anise has an estrogenic action, which means excessive consumption can lead to an excess of estrogen in the body.

Eucalyptus compounds have a hypoglycemic effect, reducing blood sugar levels.


When food affects the way medications work in the body, it’s termed as a food-drug interaction. Drugs can also alter how the body processes food.

Grapefruit can either increase or decrease the absorption of certain medications into the bloodstream. It alters the absorption of statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) like Lipitor, potentially leading to increased side effects.

Dairy products decrease the absorption of antibiotics.

Pickled, cured, and fermented foods containing tyramine can cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure when consumed with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and certain medications for Parkinson’s disease.

Alcohol prolongs the effects of insulin or oral diabetic medications, leading to low blood sugar levels.

Garlic, green tea, and ginger act as natural blood thinners and can increase bleeding if taken with antiplatelet drugs or Warfarin.

Black tea inhibits iron absorption.

A high protein diet accelerates drug metabolism, while a low protein diet diminishes medication metabolism in the liver.


Coenzyme Q-10 may increase blood clotting and decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin).

Green, leafy vegetables high in vitamin K can decrease the effectiveness of aspirin in thinning the blood and can interfere with the action of warfarin.

Vitamin C deficiency decreases drug metabolism in the elderly.

Low calcium, magnesium, and zinc levels impair drug metabolism.

Checking for interactions between drugs, food, herbs, and supplements is crucial because they can affect how medications work, increase the risk of side effects and toxicity, or worsen a medical condition. Always read labels on your vitamins and supplements and consult with a doctor when taking prescription drugs.



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