Herbal supplements and heart medicines may not mix – Mayo Clinic

by health and nutrition advice journalist

Many herbal supplements can interact with prescription drugs. Some of these interactions can be life-threatening.

Herbal supplements are natural, so they must be safe, right? Not necessarily.

Herbal supplements can have strong effects in the body. Some can interact with prescription medications used to treat heart and circulatory problems, such as high blood pressure and heart failure. Some of these interactions can even be dangerous.

About half of U.S. adults report taking supplements. But research suggests that most don’t tell their doctors about this use — even those who also take prescription medications.

Yet many herbal supplements may interact with prescription medications, including some used to prevent or treat heart disease.

That’s why it’s so important to talk with your doctor before taking herbal supplements if you take prescription medications. Your doctor and your pharmacist can help you avoid risky interactions.

Herbal supplements and drug interactions

Several popular herbal supplements interact with common heart medications. This list covers only some interactions. It’s important to talk to your doctor before taking any herbal supplements if you take prescription medications.

Coenzyme Q10

Taking coenzyme Q10 can decrease:

Danshen can interact strongly with certain heart medications, including:

Evening primrose

Evening primrose may increase your risk of bleeding if you also take an anticoagulant, such as:

Garlic increases your risk of bleeding if you also take an anticoagulant, such as:

Gingko biloba

Ginkgo biloba increases your risk of bleeding if you also take:

Licorice decreases levels of warfarin and can increase the effects of digoxin.

Saw palmetto

Saw palmetto increases your risk of bleeding if you also take:

St. John’s wort

Taking St. John’s wort reduces the effectiveness of:

Playing it safe with herbal supplements

If your doctor tells you it’s OK to use an herbal supplement combined with a medication, make sure you follow dosing instructions carefully. Watch for any signs that you could be having a drug interaction, such as:

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  6. Danshen. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020.
  7. Licorice. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020.
  8. Moore J, et al. Dietary supplement use in the United States: Prevalence, trends, pros, and cons. Nutrition Today. 2020; doi:10.1097/NT.0000000000000402.
  9. Coenzyme Q-10. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020.
  10. Evening primrose. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020.
  11. Garlic. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020.
  12. Gingko biloba. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020.
  13. Hawthorn. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020.
  14. Saw palmetto. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020.
  15. St. John’s wort. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020.
  16. Sirois FM, et al. Use and disclosure of complementary health approaches in U.S. adults with cardiovascular disease. American Journal of Cardiology. 2018; doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2018.03.014.

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