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Reactions between medicine and one or more nutrients called a drug-nutrient interaction may occur. Nutrients are the vitamins and minerals in herbal supplements that we consume. When a medicine interacts with a nutrient or herb, many unwanted side effects may happen. Let us take a look at common mistakes we make with Herbs, Supplements, and Food.



Herbs are a powerful natural pharmacy. Do not underestimate herbs. Herbs can work as antagonists to certain medications, can reinforce medications, or interact with them. When taking herbal supplements or Vitamins enriched with herbs, be careful: these combinations can be harmful for you if you take certain RX medications.

  • Chrysanthemum Flowers, Cinnamon, Feverfew, Gingko, Turmeric, Ginseng, Golden Seal and St. John’s Wort with blood thinners.

The herbs above are natural blood thinners and interact with blood thinner medications (Warfarin),  and can cause bleeding or thromboembolism.

  • Echinacea- Immunosuppresants.

Echinacea stimulates t-cells and should not be used if you take Immunosuppresants.

  • Saw Palmetto

Should not be used with Estrogen (Oral contraceptives), Digoxin, Cyclosporine, MAOIs.

  • John’s Wort

Interacts with many RX medications. It can increase the metabolism of drugs and reduce effectiveness. Avoid St. John’s Wort when use oral contraceptives, Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, SSRIs, Warfarin, Tricyclic antidepressants and Protease inhibitors.

  • Licorice

Increases Digoxin toxicity, increases sideffects of MAOIs, interacts with Diuretics.

  • Gingko

Might reduce efficacy of anticonvulsants (Phenytoin) and intensify side effects of MAOI.

  • Ginseng

Interacts with Aspirin and Warfarin (increase bleeding), Antihyperglycemic (lowers blood sugar), Corticosteroids and Estrogen (Intensify side effects), Digoxin (increases Digoxin levels), reduce effectiveness of Opioids and non-compatible with MAOIs.

  • Anise

Anise has an estrogenic action, which means over-consumption of the herb can lead to an excess of estrogen in the body.

  • Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus compounds have a hypoglycemic effect, which means that they can reduce blood sugar.



When a food affects medications in the body, this is called food-drug interaction. Drugs can also change the way the body uses food.

  • Grapefruit

Can cause body to absorb either too much or not enough medicine into bloodstream. Grapefruit juice alters the way the body absorbs statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) like Lipitor in the blood. It can cause these drugs to be absorbed in higher than normal amounts resulting in a greater risk of side effects.

  • Dairy products

Decrease the absorption of antibiotics.

  • Pickled, Cured, and Fermented Foods + MAIOs
    This food category contains tyramine, which has been associated with a dangerous increase in blood pressure among patients taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAIOs) and certain medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • Alcohol

Prolongs the effects of insulin or oral diabetic pills, which leads to low blood sugar.

  • Garlic, Green tea and Ginger

Work as natural blood thinners and can increase bleeding if the patient takes Antiplatelet drugs or Warfarin.

  • Black tea

Inhibits Iron absorption.

  • High protein diet

Accelerates metabolism of drugs.

  • Low protein diet

Diminishes medication metabolism in liver.



Coenzyme Q-10 may increase blood clotting and decrease the effectiveness of warfarin (Coumadin)

Green, leafy vegetables, which are high in vitamin K, can decrease how well aspirin thins the blood. They can keep warfarin (a blood thinner) from working properly.

Vitamin C deficiency decrease drug metabolism in the elderly.

Low calcium, magnesium and zinc impairs some drug metabolism.


Drug, food, herbs and supplements interactions are important to check  because they can:

  • Affect how your medication works by changing levels of the drug in blood
  • Increase risk for side effects and toxicity
  • Worsen a medical condition

Always read labels on your Vitamins and supplements and consult with a doctor when taking RX drugs.

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