AVOID MEDICATION SIDE-EFFECTS AND INTERACTIONS – TOP PHARMACIST TIPS
Do you regularly take alternative or complementary medications such as vitamins and minerals, herbal treatments or essential oils? If so, you should tell your pharmacist. Such products – no matter how natural – could interact with your prescribed medicine even if you’ve not had any previous problems.
Side–effects may occur when mixing medications. The drugs suggested by your doctor could prove less effective – or potentially stronger – in combination with other substances. In either case, your treatment and possibly your health might be negatively affected. In this blog, we’ll look at some interactions to note.
Complementary medicine side effects
Natural treatments have long been used to treat a range of ailments. However, the active compounds contained in these treatments can react with a range of prescription medications. Here is a guide to some of the most common combinations to watch out for. Notify your pharmacist if you think there may be an issue.
|Ginseng||Chemotherapy, HIV medication, blood-pressure and cholesterol-lowering medication, antidepressants||Decreased effect of medicine|
|Ginkgo||Warfarin (anticoagulant)||Increased risk of bleeding|
|St. John’s Wort||Blood-pressure HIV, depression, cancer and anxiety medications. Also anaesthetics, oral contraceptives||Decreased effect of medicine|
|Echinacea||Antipsychotic and antidepressant medications. Also etoposide chemotherapy treatment||Increased effect or risk of side-effects|
|Feverfew||Omeprazole, lansoprazole, pantoprazole, diazepam, carisoprodol, nelfinavir and others.||Decrease in effectiveness of the liver breaking down the medication|
|Chamomile||Central nervous system depressants||Increased effect of medicine|
|Evening primrose||Warfarin (anticoagulant)||Increased effect of medicine|
|Fish oil supplements||Antihypertensive drugs
|Lowered blood pressure
Increased bleeding risk
|Garlic supplements||Oral contraceptives
|Decreased effect of medicine
Increased bleeding risk
|Hawthorn||Betablockers||Increased effect of medicine|
|Senna||Diuretics||Increased effect of medicine|
|Valerian||Alprazolam and Central nervous system depressants||Increased effect of medicine|
|Vitamin E||Warfarin (anticoagulant)
|Increased effect of medicine
Decreased effect of medicine
When talking to your pharmacist, be sure to provide the following information on your complementary medicines:
- The name of the supplement you are taking
- How often or for how long you have taken the medicine
- The amount of active ingredients in each dose – take the medicine with you if possible
- Why you are taking this treatment
- Any effects or side-effects you have experienced with the complementary medicine
Your pharmacist may advise you to stop taking your alternative choice temporarily. This will be for the benefit of your health and for a quicker recovery. Do not assume that health professionals are automatically against “rival” treatments – it’s just that they have a deeper knowledge of the body’s functions. Feel free to ask questions!
It is especially important to speak with your pharmacist if you are:
- Pregnant or intending to become pregnant
- Scheduled for an operation or other medical procedure
- A child
- Over the age of 65
- Currently or previously diagnosed with a disease
Food-drug interactions with medications
Many patients are surprised to find out that some common foods can react with prescribed medicines. Here’s a list to be aware of:
|Dairy: milk, yoghurt, cheese||Antibiotics
|Pickled, cured and fermented foods or aged cheese||Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAIOIs) and Parkinson’s medication||Increased blood pressure|
|Kale, spinach and other vitamin K-rich foods||Warfarin (anticoagulant)||Contrary effect to the drug|
|Masked level of intoxication
|Grapefruit||Statins||Increased effect of medicine|
|Licorice||Aldactone (diuretic)||Renders drug ineffective|
|Cranberry||Warfarin (anticoagulant)||Increased effect of medicine|
|Ginger||Warfarin (anticoagulant)||Increased bleeding risk|
|Any food||Hypothyroid medications||Medicine requires an empty stomach|
Again, talk to your pharmacist if you eat a lot of one kind of food. If you are advised to avoid certain foods while taking prescribed medication, take the guidance seriously because negative interactions could prolong your recovery or harm your health.
At Doctors Express, we have the benefit of having all medications at one location in our on-site pharmacy, so a qualified pharmacist is able review all medications and talk to you. Please tell us about any other treatments you are taking and be assured that we will give you the best advice for your health.
For more information about our pharmacy, visit the website.