Potential Herb and Supplement and Drug interactions

Many of us take a range of herbs and supplements in order to try and keep ourselves well throughout our often toxic treatment for Birdshot.  We should always check these herbs and supplements with our consultants, there can be adverse interactions between these and medications we are taking.  We should all remember that just because we can buy them over the counter, this does not mean they are always totally safe, especially when we are taking a range of medications.

We have attached here a PDF which identifies potential herb and drug/medication interactions.  It lists most of the commonly used herbs.

We thought that the most striking ones were:

  • Licorice which increases the level of drug in our body by decreasing drug metabolism (i.e. the rate at which our bodies absorb the drug).   **** (Please see comment number 2 below)
  • Polyphenol – contained in Chamomile and Green tea, lime flowers and Rosemary which is said to reduce the absorption of iron.
  • Bilberry and Tumeric might affect your aniplatelet activity (antiplatelets help ensure we don’t get thrombosis)
  • Valerian may increase the effect of CNS depressants (sedatives or tranquillisers) or alcohol

Hopefully, this article will alert us all to the potential consequences of taking large doses of some herbs, if we are on medication.

6 thoughts on “Potential Herb and Supplement and Drug interactions

  1. Someone the US forum at lefora reported that peppermint seemed to increase her levels of ciclosporin in her system dramatically. So if you this happens to you and are consuming a lot of peppermint, tea, ice- cream etc, try stopping it. She did and apparently it worked! She says her doctor is mystified by this. Annie

  2. This is another comment we have received from one of our members. It points out that we have not interpreted the effects of licorice correctly.

    Thanks so much for your help with this.

    “As a pharmacist and medical writer I would like to commend you for highlighting the concern of drug/herb interactions. However some of the information from the pdf was not interpreted correctly. For example, ‘Licorice which increases the level of drug in our body by decreasing drug metabolism (i.e. the rate at which our bodies absorb the drug)’. The latter sentence has two problems. The most important concern with licorice is its potassium-sparing effect, far more than its potential interference with drug metabolism (note that is only a theoretical not a clinical concern). Moreover drug metabolism is not the rate at which the body absorbs drug but the rate at which it inactivates and excretes the drug – very different processes. “



  4. Hi Joanne

    As a pharmacist, generally I encourage people to save their money for proven treatments but I can understand why people with birdshot would want to try any means possible to preserve their sight.

    I have been looking this up for you in literature that I have access to. So far I could not find any report of interaction between mycophenolate or cyclosporin with devil’s claw or boswellia. The only interactions between herbs and Cellcept (mycophenolate) that I did find were echinacea and cat’s claw, primarily pharmacodynamic interactions because those herbs are immunostimulants to some degree. Cyclosporin is more prone to interactions because of how it is metabolized. I will continue to keep searching the literature. LoriB

  5. For those of you who wonder about peppermint – see my earlier comment, Medline has a very good section on supplements and warns of the interaction of peppermint with neoral: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginformation.html. This is what it says:-

    “The body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) to get rid of it. Peppermint oil might decrease how quickly the body breaks down cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune). Taking peppermint oil products along with cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) might increase the risk of side effects for cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune).”

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