Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Those supplements can affect your heart

Herbs and supplements are drugs as much as a prescription drug. In fact, some drug companies go to the jungles of the world looking for substances that are then so strong they are available only through a doctor.

Go check on PubMed and you will see that herbal supplements such as Gingko biloba and even garlic can interact with blood pressure, anti-clotting, and cholesterol meds.

If you take the anti-coagulant coumadin (warfarin), avoid alfalfa, angelica (dong quai), bilberry, fenugreek, ginger, and khelia, as well as ginkgo and garlic, or you may be a little too bleedy. Capsicum, ginseng, licorice and St John’s wort can increase BP.

Also watch the grapefruit juice if you take a lot of meds. It can inhibit an enzyme that helps break down drugs, letting the medicine get to toxic levels. The juice can also increase cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood pressure lowering drugs (calcium channel blockers, anyway) and a transplant drug called cyclosporine.

The general take-home here: Herbals actually do something to you, pro and con. Be smart.

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