supplements vs. medications

Supplements and Medications May Not Mix

Some prescription medications that Americans are taking is directly proportional to the amount of supplements that they also take. However, combining medications with supplements can be detrimental. The effect of taking both at the same time is internal bleeding. Moreover, it can also produce contradictions that can decrease the efficacy of the medication.


According to the assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Dima Qato, the risk of combining supplements and drugs is a serious concern. In the study conducted by Professor Dima Qato, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, it was found out that many people take multiple supplements and drugs at the same time.


medications vs. supplements consumers warningThe research also looked into the dangerous combination of medications and supplements. They discovered that intake of omega-3 fish oil and warfarin together could increase the risk of internal bleeding. Some drugs, when combined with other supplements, is shown to enhance the occurrence of the drugs’ side effects. However, according to Andrea Wong, who is the vice president of the scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the concurrent intake of drugs and supplements has potentially little interaction and thus poses a low total overall risk to the general population.


Unfortunately, most patients believe that the products–particularly, supplements–are safe because they are natural, but this is not always the case. In Qato’s study, they noted that more than 25% of ill adults took herbal medicines alongside prescription drugs. Thus, experts urge the consumers to discuss whatever supplements they are taking with their doctor to pinpoint possible drug interactions.


Specific Supplements to Watch

So which supplements are known to have deleterious effects when combined with prescription medicine? Below is a list of the different types of supplements and how they may interact with conventional medication.


Supplement Possible Benefits Possible Drug Interaction
Calcium Prevents bone loss, cancer, and heart disease. May reduce the absorption of some medicines and antibiotics.
Garlic Can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. May increase the risk of bleeding when taken together with blood thinners. It can also lessen the efficacy of saquinavir (anti-HIV drug) and lowers blood sugar thus insulin may not be needed.
Ginger Relieves vomiting and nausea. It can also stimulate the appetite as well as ease the digestive system. May increase the risk of internal bleeding when taken with anti-clotting medications. It may reduce levels of cyclosporine antibiotic in the blood.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Obtained from fish oil; it can protect the heart against cardiovascular diseases. It also has protective benefits against cancer and mental health. May increase internal bleeding. It can also increase the side effects of steroids like hydrocortisone and prednisone.
Saw Palmetto Promote urine flow among patients with an enlarged prostate. May increase internal bleeding when taken with anti-clotting drugs. It can also interfere with the enzymes that affect the metabolism of certain drugs.
St John’s Wort Can help reduce depression, premenstrual syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome. May reduce levels of the drug in the blood. It can also lessen the efficacy of other drugs like birth control pills, statins, and anti-HIV medication. It can also increase the side effects of anti-depressants as it increases its sedative power when combined with alcohol.


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