Embargoed materials for Complementary & Integrative Medicine Conference

-year follow-up interviews. Potentially dangerous drug-herb interactions were analyzed for individuals taking cardiovascular agents including digoxin, furosemide and warfarin, and neuroleptic agents including alprazolam, levodopa, lithium, phenelzine and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. The concomitant use of St. John's Wort with cyclosporin, spironolactone, or venlafaxine was also examined.

At the 5-year follow-up, 81 % of the original participants were remaining, the average age was 70 years (range 31-99), and 70% were female. Of the 7652 participants remaining, 1069 (14%) were taking at least one of the prescription medications for which drug-herb interactions were assessed. Only 14 (1.3%) of these 1069 participants were using at least one contraindicated drug-herb combination.

Of the 514 subjects on one of the cardiovascular medications, 13 (2.5%) were concomitantly using a contraindicated herb. Only one of the 514 subjects taking a neuroleptic agent was identified as at-risk for a potential drug-herb interaction (lithium and psyllium). No subjects were concomitantly using the potentially dangerous combination of St. John's Wort with cyclosporin, spironolactone, or venlafaxine.

"In this randomly selected, population-based sample we found a relatively low rate of potential drug-herb interactions, most of which were among subjects using specific cardiovascular medications," the authors concluded.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine advises that individuals to consult their health care providers before taking any herbal supplement, especially if it is being taken in addition to another medication.

Abstract 373 A Preliminary Assessment of Potential Drug-Herb Interactions in a Canadian Population-based Study
Vik SA, Hanley DA, Patten SB, Verhoef M, Brasher P, Hopman W, Anastassiades T, Tanveer T.

May 26, 2006 at 11:30 AM
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