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Ask the Herbalist--Drug/Herb Interactions

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QUESTION: Just wanted to know if it is safe to take vitex while taking Zoloft, I have been recommended to take vitex to assist with low progesterone. 

ANSWER: You will more than likely be fine combining these two, but to be on the safe side please consult with your physician. Make sure that you use an extract or tincture of Vitex, as the shelf life of pills is often unreliable.

QUESTION: I was wondering if some supplements I'm getting ready to start taking is safe to take together. For weight loss: Chromium Picolinate(200mcg), Apple cider vinegar(200mcg),  Raspberry Ketones(100cg) For stress I was also going to start taking GABA(500cg). I also have been taking a multivitamin, a coconut oil (for brain health) and a prescribed medication for a low thyroid problem.  Thank you for your help,

ANSWER: Not knowing your medical history places a big disadvantage on us, but generally speking you are okay taking these.  I do not suggest the coconut oil. 

What I do suggest is taking 3 capsules of extract of Green tea 3xs day; also, L-tyrosine plays an important part in maintaining healthy thyroid function. Take 500 mg two times daily and if you have an iodine deficiency take Kelp, 1 baby spoon 1x day. 

  There is evidence that soy products interfere with the absorption of thyroid hormone, so if you are taking thyroid hormone medication, talk to your doctor before consuming soy products.

  Eat antioxidant foods, including fruits such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes and vegetables.

  Avoid refined foods, such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.

  Eat foods high in B-vitamins and iron, such as whole grains.

  Use olive oil which is a much healthier cooking oil.

  Avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine.

  Eat fewer red meats and more lean meats.  Supplement your diet with cold-water fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, halibut, anchovies), or beans for protein.

  Certain foods interfere with thyroid function, these include broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, spinach, turnips, soybeans, peanuts, linseed, pine nuts, millet, cassava, and mustard greens.

  Avoid white sugar

  Avoid dairy products

  Avoid all fried foods

  Avoid processed foods  

I hope this helps.

Hi, I'm taking 50 mg of Topral for blood pressure. Could you please tell me if Sea Buckthorn juice powder capsules will interfere?

ANSWER: I can find no research that addresses your question in a specific manner.  I would suggest starting with a low dose and noting any changes. Avoid if it triggers problems.

QUESTION: Is it safe to mix Maca and PuerarIa mirifica together in a smoothie?

ANSWER: Yes, but as to the amount, dosage and form it would depend individually. If I am correct you may be trying to improve your testosterone levels, for that I would also suggest Sasparilla extract 25 drops 1x day, Zinc 50mg 1x day, Carnitine and L-Arginine 3 capsules of each 1x day.

QUESTION: I would very much appreciated it if you could help me. I started to take GNC be wholesome vitapak but Im worried if the herbs in it can negatively interact with my birth control pill Yaz.

ANSWER: You would need to send formula's ingredients, the amount of each and the suggested dosage, the link provided loads very slow and is not informative enough. GNC is certainly not one of my favorite stores for anything. Overpriced and the staff more often than not, not knowledgeable enough. I much prefer the old herbal shops.  Since I am not too familiar with drug interaction here, I would refer you to your practitioner who is prescribing the Yaz fo you.  If he or she wishes they may communicate with me.

QUESTION: What supplements interfere with the nuvaring?  Since it is not an oral estrogen, but it is inserted vaginally and the ethinyl estradiol and etonogestrel is directly absorbed into the blood stream.  The manufacturer treats it the same as oral contraceptives.  I am under the impression that a lot of the failure comes from changes in the GI flora (ie antibiotics and antifungals).

ANSWER: Good question, but one best posed to your doctor. Supplements and herbs are two different things.  If you are on any seizure medication you should consult with your physician, as well if you are taking or about to take antibiotics. I will say that you should avoid is St. John's Wort, and during menstruation Chinese angelica.  As to safe supplements and foods Fish oil, fresh garlic and onions are safe and garlic possesses plenty of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal properties and will not change the flora.

I suggest that you consult with your doctor. since there are, I believe, better solutions to your goals other than nuvaring.

QUESTION: I was visiting HerbNET, and was looking thru it. I am taking Lisinopril, and was wondering what Herbs and Vitamins, that I can take safely? I will be starting the DASH Diet soon. I am hoping to be able to take Benicar instead of what I am taking now. I heard it was a better choice. Lots of good Reviews from people using it.

Here is a list of what I was taking prior to going on Lisinopril.

Vitamins: Balanced B-Complex 100, C 500MG., Calcium 600mg, D3 400IU, E 200IU, Grape seed Extract 150mg., Flaxseed Oil 1200mg 2 X's a day, Magnesium 250mg., Potassium

Gluconate 99mg., Zinc Gluconate 50mg., Ginger Root 550mg. I know I cannot take the Potassium, according to Lisinopril interaction, will be same for Benicar as I have learned too. So, which of these are good and which is not. I also just started Hawthorn Berry. Is the Zinc, the right one to take, or is Zinc Picolinate better? Please, I really do need to know, for my own health.

ANSWER: Both Benicar and Lisinopril have a lot of side effects. Always avoid drinking alcohol when taking these, as well avoid sitting up or getting up too fast.

View: http://www.drugs.com/lisinopril.html and http://www.drugs.com/benicar.html

Hawthorn will definately be of help to you, but the principal avenue to take is following a healthy diet.

I would suggest to start getting rid of any toxins that may be influencing your progress by a 48 hour fast. During this time drink only infusions of Green tea, and adding 30 drops of extract of Dandelion root and 15 drops extract of Hawthorn berry. Extracts work better and faster. Sweeten only with a bit of honey and drink 4-5xs for 48 hours. During this time, also drink plenty of fresh water. If hunger overtakes you, you may eat yogurt or unsalted crackers.

You may continue the infusions after the fast, just change to 10 drops of Dandelion and 20 drops of Hawthorn extracts. Drink 2-3xs day.  After this time comes the most important part. Nothing helps more than following a healthy diet. After your fast, eliminate all red meats, white sugar, all dairy, pork and all fried foods. As well eliminate all foods containing preservatives, sodas, colas, chips, candies and chocolates.

Enhance your diet with plenty of fresh salmon and mackerel (both of these are very high on Omega-3), eat plenty of fresh garlic and onions daily, raw and steamed vegetables, brown rice, and fresh fruits. Always try and buy fruits and veggies form no more than 300 miles from your location, these have been grown in the same climatic temperatures as you experience and they are much better for you. Deep greens, dark reds, and bright yellow vegetables are full of antioxidants which would prove to be of benefit also. 

You also will benefit from a low-level program of exercise, such as Yoga, Tai chi or Qi Gong. Your local library will have videos on these to help get you started. 

As to Zinc it depends which one your system would absorb better. There are great food sources that contain Zinc you may wish to incorporate them into your diet: Oysters, Alaskan King Crab, Chicken legs (roasted), Lobster, Fortified breakfast cereal, Baked beans, Raisin bran, Chick peas, Yogurt and Almonds are some of them.

Here's link on more: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/types-of-zinc/

The Dash diet may help some, but if you do the 48 hour fast before starting on it, the benefits will be greater.

:    My acupuncturist has me on Xiao Yao for my panic attacks and anxiety and Nuan Gong Yun Zi for fertility...however Ive been having panic attacks and ended up in the ER. Since then went to see my Doctor and he said to take .5 mg of Xanax or Klonopine when I start to have a panic attack. Should I be taking the Xiao Yao and the Nuan Gong Yun Zi together? And if so, can I take a Xanax or klonopine when needed while taking these herbal medicines?  Please help me,

ANSWER:  Although you do not mention the dosage or frequency, you are quite safe in taking the Xiao Yao Wan, but it is not used for panic attacks. It is rather a formula used for nourishing the liver and blood, menstrual disorders, infertility, depression, irritability and hypoglycemia. For panic attacks ask him/her to look at Bu Nao Wan (Cerebral Tonic Pills). Yes, you can take these together (Xiao Yao Wan and Nuan Gong Yun Zi), and you can also include the Xanax or Klonopine.

QUESTION:  Im trying to see if it is okay to take Hawthorn Berries with Passion Flower and Fish Oil- How do we know when not to mix herbs- Is there book or guide to herbal mixology?  I take Melatonin to sleep- does that mix well with the above herbs that I take daily?

ANSWER: Yes, you may take them both and the Fish oil also. The herbs will not interfere with the Melatonin. No, there's actually no guide to herbal "mixology". That is why its important to always consult with an experienced practitioner before self-medicating. A practitioner can adjust the form, dosage and frequency. Please remember that tinctures and extracts always work better and faster. If you still experience problems sleeping just eliminate taking the Passionflower at night.

QUESTION: Im taking Paxil medication for anxiety .. and I want to take a natural body cleanse . Could it affect my medication and me ??

ANSWER: It all would obviously depend on the detoxifying formulation you are planning to take.

To be on the safe side, I would suggest that you use 10 drops of extract or tincture of Dandelion and 5 drops of extract or tincture of Red Clover in an infusion of Green tea. Sweeten only with a bit of honey and drink 3xs day for 7 days.  Dandelion is the very best natural detox agent around.

: Are hawthorn berries  and Plavix safe to take together

ANSWER: I checked the best source I know for Herb, Drug, and Nutrient Interactions, Mosby 2008, and found no interactions between Plavix and Hawthorn berries. With monitoring by the provider who prescribed the Plavix, there is a reasonable expectation of beneficial anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective effects from Hawthorn. By the way, the flowers, leaves, and berries combined provide the best heart-healthy combination of compounds.

: My mother takes only 3 prescription medications: Plavix, Lisinopril and Domperidone.  I have read that Hawthorn berry is fine to take with Lisinopril, but is there any untoward reaction with Plavix or Domperidone?

ANSWER: I have been looking and can find no known interactions between any of these three drugs and Hawthorn berry, leaf, and flower (Crataegus oxyacantha, C. monogyna, and other Crataegus species). Plavix has enough potential side effects of its own! Domperidone, sometimes given for g.i. problems, also carries risks. If your mother had a recent heart attack, or is prone to bleeding, her requirement of these three in combination may be revisited by her primary provider.
              You are correct in your view that beta blockers such as lisinopril does not have a marked negative interaction with Hawthorn, as far as we know at this time. Hawthorn has an effect on blood viscosity, vessel strength, heart rate and force of contraction, and blood pressure, though milder in comparison to the drugs your mother is taking. The best recommendation is to inform her prescribing physician(s) that she is adding Hawthorn to her regimen. It has a variety of benefits for her, and may be cardioprotective as well as useful in calming any gastrointestinal concerns she may have. A standard dose of a high quality Hawthorn product, liquid extract, tablet, or tea, is 2-4 grams three times a day. That's about an ounce of the dried herb per pint of water, steeped 20 minutes, one cup twice a day. The equivalent amount of herb represented in products is usually on the labels. You can expect good things from this combination, but be sure your mother's improvements are monitored in case any of the drugs can be reduced, or unexpected effects can be traced to their source.

QUESTION: I would really appreciate if you could help me out with a question I have. I have currently had to start taking some medications for a neck injury and I'm not sure if there is any danger in taking the normal
supplements and herbs that I usually take while I'm on this medication. The medication I'm currently taking is an anti-inflammatory called Lodine and a muscle relaxer called Soma. The supplements I usually take include Ultra-Mega Multivitamin-Multimineral, Kelp Lecithin and B-6, Coral Calcium, Amino Acids, and Ultra Blue Green Algae. Could you please let me know if there are any of these that I should not be taking along with this medication. I contacted a local Pharmacist but they were unsure what to tell me and I have not been able to get in contact with my Doctor about it. Thank you very much for your time.

ANSWER: Sorry, I can't comment on drug interactions with herbs. I'm an herbalist, not a pharmacist. If your pharmacist doesn't know, other than finding another pharmacist, I would suggest talking with your doctor about possible interactions. I don't see anything in the supplement that looks particularly scary, but again, I'm not qualified to say.

QUESTION: I know that one should not take Clomid and vitex together.  I am currently taking an herbal blend called Precious See (by Giovanni Maciocia).  This blend contains dang gui, among other things.  Would it be ok to take this with Clomid?

ANSWER: I have no idea. I don't know what's in it. It isn't a pure herb, it's some formula and when you start adding things to herbs, that's when you get into trouble. Sorry.