Natural supplements and vitamins can provide many health and pain management benefits for the body, from vitamins to willow bark to coenzyme Q10.  These benefits are gained only when these supplements are used effectively and with full thought, though. Moreso, users must thoroughly research these natural supplements, as there is no government oversight on their ingredients or claims.

Mixing medications and natural supplements can produce dangerous effects if the products interact harmfully.

All medications and supplements are used based on their ability to have a therapeutic effect on the body. When there’s an effect on the body, however, there’s also a chance of the compound having an unwanted reaction. Since 20% of people in the U.S. take supplements daily, there is a great need for the public to be aware of the risks of mixing medications with these supplements.

Common medications and supplements that can have dangerous interactions include:

  • St. John’s Wort and antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, as mixing these can cause serotonin syndrome, a sometimes fatal condition
  • Antihypertensive drugs and dong quai, an herb used for menstrual problems, that can cause cardiovascular problems when used together
  • Antibiotics can alter the effects of oral contraceptives
  • Natural supplements like garlic, ginkgo biloba, ginger, and saw palmetto supplements can cause an increased of bleeding
  • Echinacea taken with drugs like Lipitor, Celebrex, and Aleve can lead to liver damage

The best advice is to always consult with your doctor before taking natural supplements or vitamins. Discuss any daily vitamins, natural or fitness supplements, and energy drinks or foods with added supplements. Always tell your doctor all of the natural supplements and vitamins you are using before he or she prescribes a medication.

Additionally, stick to the prescribed length of use and dosage for medications. Too much of a drug or a shortened timeline can also adversely affect health. 

Natural herbs and supplements are a great option for many individuals, but users should be careful about their use and discuss any new products with their doctor or other healthcare practitioner. Even something that seems relatively safe could bring about large problems if taken with the wrong medication.

Do you take any herbal supplements or medications? Have you discussed their use with your doctor? 

Image by Sheila Sund via Flickr

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