As millions of Americans consume over-the-counter herbal and botanical supplements in a bid to boost health, there is increasing evidence that these products can interfere with a wide range of prescription medications used to treat everything from cancer to depression to high blood pressure.

Recent studies have found that a greater number of supplements than previously thought may affect the way certain enzymes in the body metabolize drugs. Some supplements may inhibit the enzymes’ ability to break down a drug and clear it from the body, causing medication to build up to potentially toxic levels and even cause overdose. Other supplements may increase the rate at which a drug is broken down, clearing it from the body too quickly to be effective.

Botanicals, for example, can interfere with drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver, stomach and intestines and proteins in the blood that can alter the way drugs are distributed throughout the body.

What you need to understand about how precisely supplements connect to prescription drugsResearchers at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis happen to be exploring interactions between tumor drugs and health supplements, predicated on data extracted from 23 million scientific publications, relating to lead writer Rui Zhang, a medical assistant professor in wellbeing informatics. In a scholarly research published this past year by a meeting of the American Medical Informatics Association, he says, they discovered some that were previously unknown.

For instance, the herb Echinacea, quite often used the belief it boosts wards and immunity away colds, is already recognized to affect just how certain chemotherapy drugs do the job. However the researchers also determined a possible interaction with a breast cancer drug that could reduce its effectiveness.

Kava, which can be used to treat sleep problems and relieve stress and anxiety, can decrease the effectiveness of a breasts cancer drug aswell potentially. And the researchers discovered that grape seed extract, which is employed for a few cardiac conditions, could increase unwanted effects of the cancer drug.

Philip Gregory, an associate professor of pharmacy and director of the Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., says many patients who are admitted to intensive care units have supplements circulating in their system that can interact with drugs and cause bleeding, liver, heart and nervous system complications, so it is important to ask about supplements in medical history-taking.