Advice about Drug Interactions and Contraindications

Sometimes you can be so zealous in your attempt to rid your body of ill health, that you take matters to hand with a little too much gusto!

Many people – in the belief they are doing their bodies justice- begin on a health supplements regime and natural remedies and natural products approach, without fully understanding the complex inter-relations of substances that are being jingled and jangled and mixed up inside them![1]

Yes, it is important to take supplements at times. But you must always do so with the right knowledge.[2] A good naturopath or Traditional Chinese Medicine specialist may be able to guide you so that your goal for natural health is not obstructed or thwarted by a careless and even dangerous mix of chemical supplements/vitamins in your system.

The problem of interaction or contraindication as it is known in natural therapy contexts is not restricted to prescription medications. Vitamins, supplements and herbs and other remedies, as well as foods can interact with each other to create dangerous combinations of interactions that can adversely affect you.

The main types of drug interactions you need to be concerned about can be categorised in the following groups:

  • Drugs that interact with other drugs

This includes both the over the counter variety and the prescription variety. Always make sure you read the fine print, and if you are on any medications already make sure to inform your naturopath or health carer so they can be fully informed when prescribing.

  • Drugs that interact with dietary supplements

Herbs and vitamins can interact with OTC (over the counter) and prescription drugs. For example, St. John’s Wort interferes with and reacts with the blood thinner Warfarin and heart medicines such as Digitalis. Vitamin K can neutralise blood thinning medications also. If you combine allopathic treatments with naturopathic treatments or homeopathic or Chinese Medicine treatments, make sure you inform ALL your practitioners regarding what you are taking.

  • Drugs that interact with beverages and food

The drugs you are taking may even react with certain foods. For example, ciprofloxacin should not be mixed with coffee, and grapefruit juice should not be combined with certain blood pressure medications. Always ask your specialist and always seek advice.

What Causes These Interactions?

It is now thought that a certain class of enzymes known as the CYP group of enzymes is responsible for the metabolisation of drugs in the body. These enzymes may also hold the key to drug contraindications but more research is ultimately required.

So remember to always consult a specialist if you are receiving a number of drugs and taking supplements. The easiest way to ensure against medical problems and adverse interactions is to stay informed and inform the specialists treating you.

Have a great day.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_interaction

[2] http://ncp.sagepub.com/content/20/1/33.abstract