Taking prescription or over-the-counter medications with dietary supplements could create risky interactions, according to FDA officials.
Some dietary supplements can negatively impact the effects of medications by changing absorption, metabolism and excretion, officials said in a report published in October. St. Johns Wart is among the examples given by the FDA, which notes the herbal supplement can make drugs for HIV/AIDS, depression, heart disease, treatments for organ transplant and birth control pills less effective.
Some dietary supplements may increase the effect of your medication, and other dietary supplements may decrease it, Robert Mozersky, DO, an FDA medical officer said in the report. You may be getting either too much or too little of a medication you need.
Other combinations can have fatal consequences. Warfarin, ginkgo biloba, aspirin and vitamin E all thin the blood, so taking any of them together puts consumers at risk for internal bleeding or stroke. People often make the mistake of assuming an herbal supplement or oil is safe because its considered all natural the report said. Natural does not always mean safe, Mozersky said in the report.
Weight loss drugs are frequently billed as being all natural, but may contain ingredients that dangerously interact with medications or could harm people with certain conditions, the report said.
With their bodies still growing and developing, youngsters in particular could be at risk from drug interaction. Parents should know that childrens metabolisms are so unique, that at different ages they metabolize substances at different rates, Mozersky said in the report. For kids, ingesting dietary supplements together with other medications make adverse events a real possibility.
Patients should be proactive when planning surgery and understand dietary supplements could interact negatively with any drugs given or prescribed for the procedure. Pregnant and breastfeeding moms also should alert their healthcare providers before taking any supplements.
For more information, visit http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm420349.htm.