Herbal-Drug Interactions (be sure to scroll for the beneficial interactions)
With so many folks taking ongoing prescription medication, it is important to consider the possibility of interactions between herbs and drugs. Fortunately when taken in appropriate combinations and with proper timing, there is far more to be gained through taking herbs than to be feared.
When properly used, most all herbal-drug interactions can be avoided. This includes both which herbs to take given your drug prescriptions and when to take them.
When herbs are taken at least two hours apart from pharmaceuticals, any potential chemical reaction becomes nominal at best (three to four hours is recommended).
Here’s a quick example of "which herb": Herbs that “dry phlegm” should be used with caution when taking drugs with similar goals, such as anti-histamines. When used cautiously, the combination can actually be beneficial- scroll below to see beneficial ways of actually using them together.
These herb-drug interaction rules apply to all herbs, including those that many buy from their drugstores and even their grocers. These may come in the form of herbal teas, "Airborne" type products, "health drinks/ energy drinks" and a plethora of other shape, sizes and chemical states.
Beneficial Herbal-Drug Interactions
It is just as important to focus on the positive herb-drug interactions, as it is on potential concerns (measure the reward, not only the risk). Ignoring these abundant combinations is truly the equivalent of crossing the street after looking just one way.
In particular, we need to start taking advantage of herbs that mitigate harsh side effects of prescription and over the counter drugs e.g. many prescription drugs have side effects of dry skin, rashes and hives. This can be remedied by plants that 'moisten' the skin and clear rashes and eruptions. Use of this combination may create an opportunity for patients to take a prescription medicine that they previously dismissed, because of this "dry" side effect.
Recalling the previously mentioned caution of using drying herbs with anti-histamines, there are herbs that can be used with anti-histamines that reduce the likelihood of any over-drying, (which can lead to respiratory infection.) This is another great use of combining herbs with western medicine.
Cumadin / Warfarin and their reactive nature with food
Despite a lack of statistically significant interactions with herbs, both the fickle nature of cumadin/warfarin and their impact on cardiac conditions leads herbalists to avoid adding herbs to the care of patients already "on" these powerful drugs .
Robert Thompson, Lic. Ac., MAOM